The Italian - who replaced Martin O'Neill at the Stadium of Light towards the end of last season - helped to keep them afloat with eight points from seven games, including a win over rivals Newcastle United at St James Park for the first time in 13 years.
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But the 45-year-old is not worried about making friends on Wearside and is bullish over his ability to reach the pinnacle of management.
He told The Northern Echo: "I'm not happy being unpopular, but I know it can happen. This is the modern psychology. The current generation, in life as well as in football, don't want to have stick.
"I don’t want to say I’m God and that everyone else is average and I’m going to turn them into fantastic players, but with the discipline I instil I will get the best out of them.
"It is important to me that the players recognise I’m fair, that I’m honest when I tell them something. I don’t twist words. If you have their respect, if they know what you’re doing is for the best, you’re going to get more out of them.
"Anyway, I’m never going to change. If I change, it will only be helping myself to improve, so I will always analyse myself but in general I'm never going to change. One day, I will be one of the top managers."