Football - Redknapp backs Di Canio appointment

QPR manager Harry Redknapp has welcomed the appointment of Paolo Di Canio at Sunderland and claims the Italian's political views are only coming under such severe scrutiny because he is now managing in the Premier League.

PA Sport

Since his appointment last weekend Di Canio has been forced to distance himself from comments he made in the past in which he described himself as a fascist, claiming in a club statement earlier this week that he does not support the ideology of fascism.

Speaking about his appointment, Redknapp, who managed Di Canio at West Ham between 1999 and 2001, said: "It's fantastic, I'm delighted for him. It's amazing how suddenly he's a fascist now he's at Sunderland and wasn't at Swindon."

Redknapp went on: "No one mentioned anything about him when he was at Swindon, suddenly he goes to Sunderland and all the dirt in the world gets dug up on him. I'd love him to do great at Sunderland, I really would. He was a great player for me, a good lad, a great trainer, the fittest guy you would ever wish to see.

"He will want his players to be the same, to live right, conduct themselves and eat right and be as fit as they could ever be. He will demand that from them. Like I said, no one started on him when he was at Swindon, as soon as he goes to Sunderland people start digging things up about his past.

"He was loved at West Ham, he was absolutely idolised by the fans. He was a fantastic player. I don't know (if he will keep them up). He has a tough job on his hands, but he will give it his best shot."

Although the media reaction was far less pronounced when Di Canio was appointed by Swindon, the Italian's previous political statements did cause the GMB trade union to withdraw its sponsorship of the club. Stoke manager Tony Pulis was pragmatic about the Black Cats' decision to sack Martin O'Neill and install Di Canio.

"Clubs have to do what they have to do, and if the chairman of Sunderland wanted a change of manager, then he has changed it," Pulis said.

"He owns and runs the football club, and that is his decision, and then everybody has to get on with it. Martin will have been disappointed. I think there are a lot of people in football who were surprised and probably disappointed for Martin. The king is dead, long live the king. That's the way football management is."

On Di Canio's arrival, Pulis added: "They have seven games to go and we'll see. I'm sure the press and media are delighted to have him on board."

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