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Just what did the Sunderland owner really mean by his programme notes on Saturday ?

Sunderland owner Ellis Short justified his decision to axe head coach Paolo Di Canio when writing in the programme Saturday.

Short, who appears to have axed Di Canio for being - well, Di Canio, told the Sunderland fans:

'Unfortunately sometimes the quest for stability can be interrupted by the absolute necessity of staying in the league.

'This is because the long-term aim becomes irrelevant if we aren't at the top level'.

Well it's difficult to look at a club like Sunderland - with 7 permanent managers / head coaches in 10 years - and think stability. And with the club remaining on 1 point from 7 Premier League games this season, and the team have won only twice in the Premier League since January (against Newcastle United and Everton), it's also difficult to see how Sunderland will still be playing 'at the top level' next season.

Quite what Short really meant in his programme notes yesterday is open to question - was he justifying the hiring of Di Canio, who saved the club from relegation last season ? Or was he simply attempting to justify the decision to let the same head coach go after just 5 games this season ? In truth, it was probably a bit of both. But was Short also suggesting that the NEXT Sunderland manager might just be selected as a short-term fix, in order to ensure 'the absolute necessity of staying in the league' ?

It's all a bit intriguing over at Sunderland, and it's difficult to know who is really likely to be (or will want to be) the next head coach.

Short said yesterday: 'The appointment of a replacement head coach is our priority and I urge you to ignore the speculation in the media about the selection process, because most of it is completely wrong'.

The media, though, has mostly given up speculating. Gus Poyet and Tony Pulis head the betting, and Ralf Rangnick might be a good bet (with Mauricio Pochettino demonstrating at Southampton that foreign managers with no Premier League experience can do well), but in truth it's anyone's guess who will follow Di Canio in the Sunderland hot seat.

Whatever happens, you suspect it's going to be a long old season for Sunderland fans. It's all a bit of a mess.

image: © Kristian D

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