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The QPR manager has singled out Paolo Di Canio's personality and enthusiasm as key to Sunderland's Premier League survival as the Italian prepares for his first game in charge

QPR boss Harry Redknapp believes that newly-appointed Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio’s ‘off the wall’ personality could inspire the relegation-threatened Black Cats to safety.

Di Canio, 44, whose first game in charge is away to Chelsea, took the Sunderland hot seat after Martin O’Neill was relieved of his duties following a 1-0 loss to Manchester United.

Redknapp is confident, however, that despite this change coming so late in the season, Sunderland chairman Ellis Short’s gamble can pay off.

"Paolo's off the wall. He's volatile but enthusiastic and you want enthusiastic people around you in life," Redknapp told Sporting Life.

"He's up for it and loves it when he wins. Hopefully from his point of view it will rub off on the players. They'll become more enthusiastic and the crowd will get involved.

"He's a great trainer and is super fit. I heard the new manager of Swindon said he can't believe how fit the players are....he can't believe he has taken over a squad that is so fit. I can believe that with Paolo."

Reports mid-week have focused mainly on Di Canio’s political beliefs and many have dubbed the Italian a fascist and a racist.

"I'd be a liar if I could sit here and tell you that I knew what a fascist was," Redknapp continued. "I'm sorry, I'm not educated enough so I couldn't tell you what their beliefs are.

"I don't know what Paolo's beliefs are, he's not a racist, that's for sure and is important. I've never discussed anything like that with him. I honestly didn't know that he had views that were different. No one did until he went to Sunderland, it seems! It's all come out now though.

"Where was all this talk when he was at Swindon? Why is it suddenly come out now he's gone to Sunderland?

"Why didn't someone write about it when he was at Swindon if it's upsetting everyone? It didn't make the papers when he was at Swindon."

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