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The Manchester United manager has expressed an admiration of the Italian's passion and belief in an attractive style of football following his controversial appointment

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has handed new Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio his backing following the Italian's controversial appointment at the Stadium of Light.

Di Canio has come under the microscope since replacing Martin O'Neill, who was sacked following the 1-0 defeat to the Premier League leaders, having previously described himself as a fascist.

The 71-year-old, however, has admitted that he admires Di Canio's passionate style as well as his emphasis on developing an attractive style of play.

"I must confess to a liking for the fellow and his approach to the game," Sir Alex told United Review.

"As I wrote the other week, he wears his heart on his sleeve and I like his football philosophy, wanting to play the ball on the ground rather than in the air.

"I have this picture in my mind of him being in the technical area pointing to the sky and then the ground in an effort to get his players to keep the ball down.

"He has a tough challenge on his hands with his fight to keep Sunderland in the Premier League."

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