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The Italian boldly claims that the Black Cats would have been relegated with Martin O'Neill at the helm as he believes that he and the club could be a "magic combination"

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio claims that the Black Cats would have been relegated had he not taken over from Martin O'Neill in March.

The Italian's side secured survival after two consecutive 1-1 draws against Stoke City and Southampton combined with Wigan's defeat to Arsenal.

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Sunderland have claimed eight points from six games since the Italian assumed control and he cites the mental recovery following his takeover as the catalyst behind their survival.

"I have to be honest; yes, I think we would have gone down. In my opinion, this team was down," Di Canio told The Guardian.

"Some people said I would be too hard and would stress the players but we have recovered mental energy."

The 44-year-old Italian was typically confident in his own abilities as he lauded the connection that he has forged with the Black Cats, declaring them capable of winning silverware next season.

"After 40 years [since the 1973 FA Cup final win over Leeds United] can we win another final? I think we can have a magic combination," he continued.

"Only the future can tell if I'm right but I think Paolo Di Canio will be right. I hope we can celebrate one day."