SUNDERLAND, England (AP) – Sunderland fired manager Paolo Di Canio on Sunday after less than six turbulent months in charge, with the Premier League club without a win this season.
Sunderland announced in a short statement that it had ''parted company'' with the 45-year-old Italian a day after a 3-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion left the northeast club bottom of the standings. Having helped Sunderland avoid relegation last season, Di Canio becomes the first Premier League manager to be fired this campaign.
A club statement read: "Sunderland AFC confirms that it has parted company with head coach Paolo Di Canio this evening. Kevin Ball will take charge of the squad ahead of Tuesday night's Capital One Cup game against Peterborough United and an announcement will be made in due course regarding a permanent successor. The club would like to place on record its thanks to Paolo and his staff and wishes them well for the future."
Critics not only questioned his lack of coaching experience - just 21 months at lower-league Swindon - but also his past statements that expressed fascist leanings. On the evening he was appointed on March 31, former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband resigned from his positions as vice chairman and non-executive director of the club in protest.
Following an outcry over his previous comments and actions regarding his political beliefs, Di Canio eventually renounced his links to fascism following a stormy first few days in charge. The Italian achieved his objective on the pitch - keeping Sunderland in the topflight. But his offseason rebuilding of the squad - with 14 new recruits - has so far not worked.
The team has just one point from five games, and now Di Canio is without a job.
Di Canio had a colorful playing career in the top divisions of Italy, England and Celtic, marked by sublime goals and headline-grabbing antics - notably when he pushed a referee to the ground after being sent off while playing for Sheffield Wednesday in 1998.
He scored more than 100 goals in over 500 appearances as a player with Lazio, Juventus, Napoli, AC Milan, Celtic and West Ham among other clubs before retiring in 2008.
Sunderland AFC confirms that it has parted company with Head Coach Paolo Di Canio this evening.
-- Sunderland AFC (@SAFCofficial) September 22, 2013