Di Canio defends public criticism of Sunderland players

The former Swindon boss believes he has received unfair treatment and says singling players out for individual mistakes will help ensure they do not make them again
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has defended his decision to publicly criticise his players and says it is a way of keeping control of egos.

The 45-year-old's management style has been questioned throughout his short tenure at the Stadium of Light and comments made about captain John O'Shea after the 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace a fortnight ago, when an individual error led to a penalty and a red card, prompted further debate.

But Di Canio says holding players accountable will help ensure the same mistakes are not repeated and he believes he is being unfairly criticised.

"I did it at Swindon as well and we won the league," Di Canio told reporters. "It's strange this criticism only happens to Paolo Di Canio. Harry Redknapp did many interviews last year and no one asked why he said his team was playing rubbish football.

"My relationship with my players is closer than you think. It means that for me I can point the finger straight away and say, 'For your level, it's rubbish.'

"If something silly happens behind closed doors, I can punish but I won't put it in the public. But if you don't give stick for public mistakes, they might keep repeating those mistakes."

Di Canio sees public criticism as a way of keeping his players in check, claiming a manager must be strong to control dressing room egos, and referring to a recent lecture given by Sir Alex Ferguson at the Harvard Business school.

"Ferguson point number one: Never, ever cede control," he added. "The common theory is that if you upset big egos you have problems. Egos need a stick. They need a slap.

"If 11 egos have a very weak manager you sink and sink and sink.

"You can't be passive about it, you have to fight it. To do this costs something. You upset people. They have to become stronger. You have to have a meritocracy.

"The club have to back their manager. Players should not have power. If they feel they are stronger than the manager, the manager is finished. And also the plan might be finished."