Football - Sunderland must match fans' passion

Paolo Di Canio has warned his Sunderland new boys to beware a mighty shock to the system when they step out to launch the Italian's Stadium of Light revolution against Fulham.

PA Sport Report

Di Canio is concerned a number of his recent signings may have underestimated the passion for the game in the region which he believes is crucial to realising his ambitious long-term plans.

Most of the 10 summer arrivals are expected to feature against Martin Jol's men, including B£6.5million Italian Emanuele Giaccherini and Jozy Altidore, who scored a hat-trick for the US in midweek.

Di Canio said: "It was well known about the atmosphere in the north-east of England but once I moved here I was surprised a bit because I couldn't imagine the passion of the people every day.

"It is something amazing. Everybody is talking about what reception they will have but in my opinion three or four players don't understand exactly. It is something magic and will come as a positive surprise.

"We don't have the history of Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal but in terms of potential we are a massive club. They (the players) are starting to realise the potential we have and what we can build for the future."

Despite Di Canio's natural inclination towards bombast, he is acutely aware of the need to dampen expectations of those supporters who might be expecting instant positive results.

Instead of making lofty predictions of pushing for a place in the Europa League, Di Canio said his hope was simply "not to suffer" like last year, adding: "We'd like to save the season six or seven games before - that is our target."

Di Canio added: "It's obvious that we've changed a lot and I hope straight away on Saturday you can see the main part of the puzzle, and the fans can understand what they can expect for the future.

"I'm sure we're going to deliver the performance and show we will have in the future a clear identity, even if we need to work to improve everything.

"The fans can always dream, but there is work to do behind the scenes and some times it takes longer to make sure everything goes in the right direction. I hope they can see in the future we are going to have very good results."

Di Canio's summer revolution, during which he has introduced all-day training sessions and banned players having single rooms on away trips in order to foster a better team spirit, is still not over as he hunts for two more new faces.

On-loan Turk Ondrej Celustka is expected to assume the problematic left-back berth against the Cottagers while Di Canio concedes he is still short of a talismanic midfield influence to make his summer dealing complete.

Despite an encouraging pre-season campaign, defender Wes Brown will definitely miss the season opener with a slight recurrence of a knee injury, although Di Canio stressed Brown's absence would be mainly a precautionary measure.

Di Canio will make clear his intention to attack through Altidore, provided he returned unscathed from his heroics on Sarajevo on Wednesday, when he scored three in his nation's 4-3 win over Bosnia.

Di Canio said: "His three goals show the quality and the talent he's got but I hope it can be an extra lift for him rather than let him relax. He is a young genuine guy but it is not always easy to recharge the battery."

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