After the grim display at Villa Park, Sunderland started against Stoke City as if someone had persuaded them life in the Championship isn’t so bad, after all, so why not give it a shot? Paolo Di Canio’s post-match e-mail rightly makes no attempt to excuse Craig Gardner, rightly praises the qualities of pride and commitment shown by the 10 men and – having previously, post-Chelsea, described the remaining games as being six FA Cup finals – freely acknowledges that the one against Southampton is now our Champions League final …
I’m very proud of the pride, passion and quality that were on display tonight.
All of that together has made this a very big result for us. The win over Newcastle will go down in the club’s history, but for me, what the players did tonight is 2,000 times bigger than what we did that day.
Although we didn’t get the three points, the fight and spirit that I saw in my players and how they remained organised and didn’t lose their brains makes me very happy and very proud.
When I see my team play like that it makes me confident and that combined with the tremendous atmosphere in the stadium makes tonight a game to remember.
Craig [Gardner] has said sorry to everyone in the dressing room. I would prefer it that players do not get themselves in a situation to have to say sorry for their actions, but we know Craig, we know he has a big heart but he has to learn, he has made a mistake and he has to handle the pressure.
I can’t defend his challenge, it was very bad, but it’s done and it’s possible that it [Gardner’s sending off] gave us the motivation to go on and get something from the game.
We started playing more freely and after going down to 10-men the players reacted really well.
We got a point; it was a fantastic effort and a fantastic performance. We now have to look forward to the next game – it is a Champions League Final for us.
When I hear the fans I feel as though I have my family in the stands, they are amazing. They were so loud for the whole game – they are something unique.
All the best
Paolo Di Canio
See what Monsieur Salut made of it at ESPN: