PFA chief tells Di Canio he 'can't be a law unto himself'
SUNDERLAND manager Paolo Di Canio has come under attack from both his players and the Professional Footballers' Association for trying to impose a strict new disciplinary regime at the club.
Di Canio has labelled his players "ignorant and arrogant" and claimed former Manchester United full-back Phil Bardsley will not play for him again after he was pictured lying on his back in the early hours of the morning covered in £50 notes at a casino last week.
That incident has been the highest profile of a series of clashes between Di Canio and the players he inherited from Martin O'Neill in April and led Bardsley's partner, Tanya Robinson, to describe the manager as a "psycho drama queen" in a series of tweets which have since been removed.
Following the revelations Di Canio made in passionate fashion following Sunderland's 1-0 defeat at Tottenham, PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor yesterday launched a counter-offensive.
"We are aware of the situation and of Paolo Di Canio's comments," said Taylor.
"It is something we had to deal with at Swindon as well. One hopes he will be respectful of our rules of discipline, which are agreed with the Premier League and the FA. We expect him to abide by these. He cannot be a law unto himself."
It is understood that one Sunderland player was fined two weeks' wages for leaving the training ground early when he was supposed to be doing a weights session. The player, who had done his other gym work, insists he had not been told about the session.
Another was fined for leaving the training ground with an "infection" and then turning his phone off.
More significantly, Bardsley and Matthew Kilgallon were fined and dropped from the squad for the Spurs match after a Sunday newspaper printed the picture of Bardsley at the casino. Both players have called in the PFA as they had been on a team night out, which had begun with a meal while watching Wigan's defeat at Arsenal – a result that made sure of Sunderland's top-flight safety.
A large group of players then went on to a nightclub and some of them decided to continue drinking at a casino. Bardsley and his team-mates insist they were not breaking any rules as, although they were due to train on Wednesday morning, they did not have a game until Sunday.
Sunderland's players have been impressed with Di Canio as a coach, but they are unhappy at his management style, the length of their training sessions and the impact he is having on their lifestyles. (© Daily Telegraph, London)