Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has warned his players that they will not be able to begin their end-of-season break until he says so.
The Italian is keen to get his squad to maintain their focus and professionalism after a tough campaign in the Premier League, insisting that he will reduce the number of days they are away from the club before reporting back for pre-season training.
Di Canio took over at the Stadium of Light in March and the six games he has overseen have seen them pick up eight points – enough to lift them out of the bottom three and avoid relegation to the Championship.
Sunderland’s final game of the season sees them travel to Tottenham on Sunday and the outcome of that match will be enable Di Canio to make a decision regarding player holidays, but he insisted they will be back in training on Monday morning whatever the result.
“It is crucial for me to see what happens on Sunday, then I will decide when the players can go on holiday,” he said. “They will come back for a couple of days next week.
“I don’t see professionalism if we fly down together on Saturday and then on Sunday they fly here and there.
“You can imagine their approach if that happens. Imagine we say, ‘From London you can fly where you want, Malta, Cyprus…’ It’s not serious.
“They will be packing their bags now, and an hour before the end of the game they will be thinking we are off soon.
“So we will fly back together and say thank you to everyone. We could
have some fun together, maybe some games and little tournaments, and
then they can go on holiday.
“If anybody has booked a holiday for
Monday, they are going to lose some money. Why would they book a
holiday on Monday? They are not being serious. They have to ask me.
they did it, it is wrong. If somebody gave them a chance to organise a
holiday in January or February, it is wrong – they will lose 50 percent on
“I will see what happens, and I will tell them when their holidays start.
“They have 44 days’ holidays, the minimum I am obliged to give them is 28, four weeks – 44 days is incredible. They have already had 100 days, probably!
“I don’t want to say 28, because for the modern football generation they will say, ‘This is too tough’, but 35 or 38?”
Under former manager Martin O’Neill, Sunderland looked to be falling towards relegation.
The risk paid off as they recorded back-to-back wins in April, including a victory over arch-rivals Newcastle, and two draws in their last two matches to guarantee survival.
However Di Canio admitted that there were some disciplinary issues within the club that he has already begun to deal with in an attempt to improve professionalism.
“There are many problems,” he continued. “In the last five days, I give out seven fines for silly things.
“For instance, (some players have been) missing signing sessions.
“It is seven steps upstairs to the room. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Every Friday morning, 20 items to sign. They forget! It’s in their contract. Just 20 signatures.
“It’s not fair. Before it happened many times. They didn’t get fined before, now they do.
“They have to start somewhere or never change – a small problem becomes a big problem. We have to respect rules, otherwise we never change. Seven in five days.
Wigan’s 4-1 defeat to Arsenal on Tuesday confirmed their relegation to the Championship and in turn guaranteed Sunderland’s safety in the Premier League, but the Italian did not celebrate the demise of Wigan instead focusing on rebuilding and improving the club’s fortunes next season.
“I didn’t celebrate (Wigan’s defeat), it was difficult for me to celebrate,” he added. “Obviously I was happy for Ellis, for the fans and the players. We have saved the club. I have delivered for them.
“I received the call from the chairman at midnight, he sung me a song, it was amazing! I was laughing and smiling. It was fantastic. I believe in something special for him.
“We have a chance to build something for the future. We need some players to join us, it will be tough but I prefer this.
“When a flower grows in front of you, the first days are crucial. Discipline can add six or seven points.
“You have a group of players that behave with strict discipline, more respect for each other, less problems. In the field you will see less anarchy.”