Sunderland can prosper if Di Canio has a united dressing room, says Niall Quinn

Niall Quinn, former Sunderland chairman
Niall Quinn, former Sunderland chairman

NIALL Quinn says Paolo Di Canio MUST have a united dressing room if Sunderland are to prosper in the new season.

The former Black Cats’ chairman has watched with interest as the Italian head coach has favoured revolution rather than evolution at the Stadium of Light this close season.

But the Irishman says it is absolutely vital Di Canio creates a new team spirit to go with the new team of players.

Looking ahead to the new season, he told the Echo: “Paolo came in and did the job he was asked to – which was keeping the club in the Premier League.

“Now he’s going about the job of putting his own stamp on the club and he’s not wasting any time doing it.

“He’s making massive changes on and off the pitch and already the club is pretty much unrecognisable from the one I left not too long ago.

“It’s a high-risk strategy.

“But it’s not unlike what Roy Keane did during my time at the club, which was to try and make a positive, no-nonsense impact from the start.

“And that worked for Roy. It helped get us up from the bottom of the Championship, it helped get us promoted and helped keep us there.

“But it had gone wrong by the end and Paolo has to look to avoid that – it is so important to carry the dressing room with you in what you are trying to do.

“I’m sure he knows that.

“And I imagine that a lot of what Paolo and his staff are working on now is building that camaraderie, trying to get a sense of togetherness and bonding during close season.

“It’s so important that you do that because that’s the danger when you make sweeping changes, you also have to work hard to make sure everyone feels part of it and everyone’s pulling together.”

Quinn was speaking after the release of yesterday’s Sky televised fixtures, several of which he will be commentating on for the satellite station.

Sunderland’s away trip to Crystal Palace will be the first of five fixtures televised by Sky followed by home games involving Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Newcastle.

He mused: “When I first got involved with the club as chairman, we used to dream of Sunderland regularly having fantastic fixtures like these; of the club playing regularly in the Premier League.

“That was the aim.

“And it’s fantastic that we have that and have done for a number of seasons now.

“It’s a great thing for Sunderland supporters to look forward to.

“You get the feeling that it’s going to be some season for Sunderland, one way or another.

“And with Paolo, the club’s got a great character who is going to give everything and will certainly make headlines.

“We have to remember that he’s a young coach and still learning, and maybe he learned a few lessons from last season because there was plenty going on in those last seven games.

“He’s a very bright and talented coach and obviously looks at things in great detail.

“But you can’t underestimate the importance of unity in the dressing room.

“And if he can get that right, Sunderland could have a very interesting season ahead indeed.”

Twitter @sunechograeme