With just seven games to go this season, Sunderland fired coachMartin O’Neill on Saturday and swiftly replaced him with the volatile Paolo Di Canio, who on Sunday signed a two-and-a-half year deal to succeed O’Neill at the Stadium of Light. The Black Cats have failed to win any of their last eight Premier League games, picking up just three points during a slide down the table to where it now hovers just a single point above the relegation zone.
Di Canio, who once described himself as a “fascist,” has never coached in the Premier League before. The former West Ham United striker resigned from his post as Swindon Town boss in February after fighting with club management over the sale of star winger Matt Richie. On Di Canio’s appointment, Sunderland owner Ellis Short said: "The sole focus of everyone for the next seven games will be to ensure we gain enough points to maintain our top flight status. I think that the chances of that are greatly increased with Paolo joining us.”
The Italian tactician faces a baptism of fire for his first game at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea will be motivated to pick up maximum points in its quest to solidify a spot in the UEFA Champions League next season.