• Premier League

Di Canio brands players two-faced and unprofessional

ESPN staff
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Phil Bardsley was one player heavily critised by Di Canio in a newspaper interview © PA Photos
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Former Sunderland boss Paolo di Canio has declared senior players unprofessional and two-faced in a blistering interview with the Sun on Sunday.

Di Canio was sacked by the club earlier this season with them cut adrift at the foot of the table, but the Italian has bitten back at the likes of John O'Shea, Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole in a scathing interview.

"I don't like people who, when they speak to you, don't look into your eyes," said Di Canio. "He [O'Shea] should say sorry to some of his team-mates for the many times he came into my office to say something unfavourable about them.

"This is the same person who also came to me when I first took over and said things about [Martin] O'Neill. Of course, he now says something different because he has to play for him again [with the Republic of Ireland]. So before deciding to speak out about me, he should be more intelligent."

Di Canio added: "I know things that can put him into trouble. My assistant Fabrizio Piccareta and I wrote down everything he said and did.

"I don't want to make it public as I'm professional. I also know he has to play in that team and for O'Neill. But one day I may do, if he keeps saying things about me."

Di Canio also laid into Bardsley and Cattermole, saying: "These two players were rotten, the most unprofessional players I've ever worked with.

"What Bardsley has done in the last year speaks volumes. Photos of him lying on the floor in a casino covered by £50 notes and laughing at the team losing on the opening day, that's public. It's no surprise these players were kicked out of my plans.

"The reason Sunderland stayed up at the end of last season was because Cattermole was injured and Bardsley played very little. In Alex Ferguson's book he says, 'Never give chances to players who feel more stronger than the manager, otherwise it's the end'.

"I'm not in Fergie's league but I'm married to his idea. And it was crucial to have the board's backing, for them to make it clear that the manager is the one in charge, not the players."

Di Canio also rounded on striker Steven Fletcher, who claimed he was not even allowed to smile during training during the Italian's six-month reign at Sunderland. "This is a man who last week was filmed spitting on the back of a rickshaw driver in London," said Di Canio. "What sort of a role model is that, who behaves like this?

"I don't like people fooling around when we're having a serious discussion about a strategy. I don't like people who laugh when they keep missing the goal in training or miss a tackle that leads to conceding a goal.

"What are they laughing about? Not being at their best? Do they laugh during a match, or in the dressing room after a defeat? No.

"You have to train as you want to play. It's called being professional and giving it maximum attention."

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