New Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has dismissed his Sunderland successor Paolo Di Canio as a `managerial charlatan’ and claimed he would have kept the Wearside club up at the end of last season.
O’Neill has clearly been stewing since his sacking in March and is still upset at claims from Di Canio that Sunderland players were unfit when he took over,
And, when asked about the end of his stint on Wearside, O’Neill said: "Paolo di Canio? That managerial charlatan? Paolo stepped in there and basically, as weeks ran on, he ran out of excuses. I had a wry smile to myself.
"It’s like a 27-year-old manager stepping in and the first thing you do is criticise the fitness of the team beforehand.
"The one thing I pride myself on is teams being fit.
"What you’ll find interesting is that when he started, the team wasn’t fit for the Chelsea game. Then the following week when he won at Newcastle, not being fit wasn’t mentioned.
"Then about two weeks later they got mauled by Aston Villa, someone asked him about the fitness.
"Suddenly, he didn’t know where to go.
"Because the team, as it progresses, should be getting more fit. And then, at the start of the season, when he lost by a late goal at Southampton, he was asked about the fitness regime, that he was going to have them the fittest team in the league.
"Suddenly, the fitness wasn’t for that game but for Christmas, when the winter months set it. You know I did have a wry smile at that one."
Commenting on Di Canio’s ban on certain foods, including ketchup,
O’Neill: "I’m hoping at some stage or another when John O’Shea asks me at the dinner table to pass him the tomato sauce, I will dispose of it immediately.
"But then if I feel you can’t win games without tomato sauce I will empty it on his plate, with the chips.
"Sunderland were my team. Absolutely. I was very disappointed at the outcome. I think I would have garnered the five points necessary to have stayed up and the chance maybe to have changed the side in the summer."