Paolo Di Canio has been named as Sunderland's new head coach, the club have confirmed.

The 44-year-old Italian has agreed a two-and-a-half-year deal at the Stadium of Light, and has met his players for the first time today (Monday).

Di Canio's first game for the Black Cats will be a trip to Stamford Bridge this Sunday to face the mighty Chelsea, which will be a tough first game for the Italian as he aims to lead the club to Premier league survival.

Soon after, Di Canio has the small matter of a Tyne-Wear derby at St. James' Park to contend with, where both teams will do everything they can to ensure victory after enduring difficult domestic campaigns this season.

And with Di Canio only having experience in League One and League Two, having guided Swindon Town to promotion and a Wembley final, it's a giant step up for the West Ham legend to make.

In a statement on the club's official website, Sunderland chairman Ellis Short spoke about his decision to act quickly after the sacking of Martin O'Neill, and that he's confident Di Canio is the man to preserve the Black Cats' Premier League status.

"Paolo is hugely enthused by the challenge that lies ahead of him," said Short. "He is passionate, driven and raring to get started.

"The sole focus of everyone for the next seven games will be to ensure we gain enough points to maintain our top-flight status.

"I think that the chances of that are greatly increased with Paolo joining us.

"Our fans have shown tremendous patience and understanding this season.  They have continued to back the team in huge numbers, both home and away, and that is something that continues to inspire all of us in our drive to give them the successful club they deserve.

"That remains our primary aim."


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