Di Matteo early favorite for Sunderland vacancy

The dust has barely settled on the end of Paolo di Canio’s controversial reign at Sunderland and already thoughts have turned to the Italian’s successor. Di Canio was sacked on Sunday night in the fall-out from Saturday’s 3-0 defeat by West Brom in which some players apparently contacted the club’s hierarchy to complain about the Italian’s man-management skills. Former Chelsea boss Roberto di Matteo is making the early running to fill the post, with Gus Poyet second favorite. Click here for the latest transfer rumors from the UK press.


Jozy Altidore’s absence creates cause for concern for US, Klinsmann

By Kyle McCarthy

The absence of Jozy Altidore from Sunderland’s 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday creates some cause for concern for United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann ahead of the upcoming qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico.

Sunderland announced Altidore missed the defeat at Selhurst Park with a hamstring injury on its official Twitter feed. The extent of the injury remains uncertain:

He is expected to link up with his American teammates in Miami and receive further evaluation by the U.S. medical staff, a U.S. Soccer spokesperson confirmed on Saturday.

Altidore’s importance to the side in recent months makes the diagnosis particularly influential. The former AZ striker has scored in each of his past five appearances, including a hat trick in the 4-3 victory at Bosnia-Herzegovina on Aug. 14. His recent form (he leads all scorers in the Hexagonal with three goals) and his status within the ranks leaves Klinsmann with a quandary if he is, for some reason, unable to feature.

Landon Donovan’s return to the ranks creates additional depth and flexibility in the attacking third, but Altidore plays a particularly vital role given his willingness to lead the line. Most of the players at Klinsmann’s disposal – including Donovan and captain Clint Dempsey – prefer to drift into dangerous areas from a variety of angles and operate in the space underneath a center forward. Altidore instead provides the touchstone required to allow other players to thrive. And there is no player in the current squad capable of replicating those exact contributions.

If Altidore cannot feature against Costa Rica or Klinsmann opts to hold him out to provide him with more recovery time (or sidestep a potential second booking), then the Americans must figure how to adapt without him.

There isn’t a simple answer to the quandary. Eddie Johnson probably presents the most natural swap – he isn’t a prototypical target player, but he does stave off defenders and surge behind the line – on a night when the Americans might have to soak up some pressure. Dempsey supplies the primary alternative given his dexterity and the potential opening created for Donovan, but a tethered position up front reduces his ability to influence the game in other ways. And Klinsmann – as evidenced by his willingness to deploy Johnson on the left side of midfield and use DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Evans at fullback – possesses the imagination to explore other options as well.

Klinsmann will certainly hope he does not have to pursue any of them. Altidore remains the firm first choice up front. But he will have to wait and see whether Altidore’s health will dispel any uncertainty in the coming days and permit him to take his usual place up front in San Jose on Friday night.

Images: Getty Images


Paolo di Canio bans phones, singing, and… ice in Coke


As if Paolo di Canio’s hiring at Sunderland last season wasn’t already controversial enough, the manager of the Black Cats made sure to change the club inside and out this summer, bringing in 11 new players and, most recently, coming up with a long list of taboos for his players. While his ban on cell phones might not be too out of the ordinary, the taboos also include singing in the showers, ketchup, mayonnaise, and ice cubes in Coca-Cola. Read that last sentence again.

From The Telegraph:

“This is a complete revolution,” he said as Sunderland prepare to host Fulham on Saturday. “It’s not just in the way we play, but in how we approach everything. It’s been difficult.

“We’ve focused on changing the whole dressing-room environment. Imagine if for years your habit is to use the phone when you’re having a massage on the bed, even one minute before going out to train? For 25 days I accepted this, because my first priority was to work on the field. However, I’ve said that from now if someone comes inside with a mobile phone, even in their bag, I’ll throw it in the North Sea. They’re banned. […]

“We need to have lectures about why we can’t have every day things like mayonnaise, ketchup and coke.

“They can cause chemical problems to the liver, to the stomach. If you have ice with coke you can have indigestion. I know players who’ve had ice with their coke the night before a game and then couldn’t play. Even coffee can be a problem. You can have one when you get up, but not an hour before you go out training or playing. We give the players diet sheets to follow.

Ah yes, ice in Coke, the root of all evil. This coming from a guy, of course, who sports a giant tattoo of Benito Mussolini on his back and has been forced to deny that he is a fascist.

Rumor has it, the list of banned items included other no-nos such as…

- Hugs

- DiGiorno’s

- Christmas

- Tea or coffee. (Cappuccinos are allowed)

- Girlfriends

- Hair (except for sideburns)

- Seeing movies in 3D. (Actually a solid point by di Canio. 3D movies are totally overrated and your eyes hurt like 20 minutes in)

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like di Canio’s revolution has paid dividends so far, as Sunderland lost its Premier League opener to Fulham, 0-1.

Let’s hope “goals” weren’t on this list, too.


10 Questions: Jozy Altidore talks Premier League, Di Canio and more


By Leander Schaerlaeckens, FOXSoccer.com

On July 5, Jozy Altidore sealed his transfer from AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands to Sunderland of the Barclays Premier League. The Black Cats will be the 23-year-old’s seventh club. His reported transfer fee of $13 million broke his own American record of the $10 million Villarreal paid the New York Red Bulls in 2008. On Friday, FOX Soccer caught up with Altidore to chat about his transfer and the reasoning behind the move:

FOX Soccer: During your last spell in the Premier League with Hull City in the 2009-10 season, you faced a steep learning curve. Do you think you’re better prepared this time around?

Jozy Altidore: “I don’t think it’s about being better prepared. Looking back on it, I think I was the number one striker on that team, not the greatest team in the world, I was always going to be up against it. It wasn’t easy. Now I’ve played in Europe more, I think I’m a little bit of a different type of player now than I was when I was 19 years old.”

FS: You matured rapidly with AZ. How did that help shape your career?

JA: “Just being there and training every single player day was good, you learned every single day. It was a really good two years for me, in every aspect. Just becoming a target man became a bit more natural for me.”

Read More


Most soccer fans will remember the moment Sheffield Wednesday striker Paolo Di Canio went down in Premier League history for pushing over referee Paul Alcock.

Step forward Alakanideh Omega of Liberia, who took it upon himself to attack the referee and several officials after his country lost to Uganda. The video speaks for itself…

Via 101GG


Paolo Di Canio goes into furious rant at his own team

You’d think that with the season being over, it might be possible for Paolo Di Canio to finally take a nap.

Nope. Not so. Instead, the Sunderland manager launched an angry attack on the discipline of his team after Phil Bardsley was pictured laying on the floor of a casino covered in £50 notes.

Yes, we suggest watching the entire thing.

(H/T kckrs.com)