Di Canio tried to rule by fear – Bruce

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DiCanio_sacked AP Paolo Di Canio has been sacked as Sunderland manager. Picture: AP Photo/Scott Heppell, File

London – Hull manager Steve Bruce believes Paulo Di Canio's heavy-handed managerial style was one of the key reasons that led to the Italian's downfall as he was sacked as Sunderland head coach at the weekend.

Despite saving the club from relegation last season, a woefall start to the new campaign leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table with just one point from five games.

“You cannot manage in the Premier League these days through a fear factor,” Bruce told talkSPORT. “You've got to be able to manage individuals.

“Man-management has become more relevant in my experience than coaching.

“Once you get yourself in the Premier League, they're all good players and you've got to find a way of getting the best out of them.

“It's never been my style to criticise anyone in public and I'm disappointed for Paolo. He's a character.

“A manager's lost his job. Management is a lonely place and he's lost his job this morning. I feel sorry for any manager in that position. I've gone through it and it's not nice.”

Reports of a bust-up with two senior players and lack of trust within the dressing room over Di Canio's approach were also believed to have forced club owner Ellis Short to bring down the axe.

However there was also disbelief at the sacking with former England captain and Newcastle icon Alan Shearer defending the Italian.

“I'm amazed, I really am amazed. Paolo Di Canio hasn't changed from the guy he was a year or two ago,” he told the BBC.

“I assume, maybe naively, that Sunderland owner Ellis Short and his chief executive did their homework on Paolo before they went and hired him to do the job.”

Short's next task is to find a replacement for the man he appointed in a storm of controversy last year.

Critics rounded on Di Canio's alleged fascist sympathies, prompting the club to make a stout defence of their new manager.

After debates about his political views had died down, Di Canio kept Sunderland in the Premier League thanks in part to a memorable 3-0 victory over rivals Newcastle at St James' Park, but little else in his regime went right.

Former Sunderland captain Kevin Ball, currently on the club's coaching staff, steps in to lead the team on a short-term basis, with the club saying a permanent replacement for Di Canio will be announced “in due course”.

Bookmakers immediately rated former Chelsea and West Brom manager Roberto Di Matteo as favourite, narrowly ahead of Gus Poyet, previously boss at Brighton.

Following Sunderland's 3-0 defeat at West Bromich Albion on Saturday, Di Canio walked over to face the travelling supporters, who made their feelings clear.

“I absorb the insults as it's part of the game – if I was in their position I'd be furious,” he said in his post match comments.

“But I'm professional: 24 hours a day I work for this cause. One day their reaction will be a different reaction.

“I knew that they were furious. I went to them because I wanted to see their faces. It's easy to go over when they're clapping or singing your name. I'm responsible but my head is up. I won't give up.”

“I'm never going to change my regime. I am what I am. My way to manage the team is for the top, top level. I have to be clear to everyone – the board, the chairman, the fans – I'm never going to change.

“One day, if I receive the full support from the players, we will turn the corner.”

That support never materialised as Di Canio became the league's first managerial casualty. – Sapa-AFP

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