Paolo Di Canio's reign as manager of the club has long been over, but the Italian remains a tainted topic of discussion at Sunderland, who are weighing up the decision to take legal action against their former helmsman.
The Black Cats are reported by the Guardian to be consulting lawyers in regards to comments that were recently made by the axed chief, who has a penchant for letting his emotions run high.
A statement from the club's official website reads:
Sunderland AFC would like to express its disappointment in relation to the disparaging comments made recently by Paolo Di Canio, regarding the club and its players.
The club is immensely proud of its players for the dignified and restrained manner in which they have conducted themselves publicly since Mr Di Canio’s departure and it is particularly disappointing to read such comments when there are legal obligations in place to ensure such behaviour does not occur.
The club is now considering its position with its legal representatives. Neither the club, head coach Gus Poyet nor the players will be making any further comment on the situation. We are looking forward, not back and are focusing on the vital games we have ahead of us.
Di Canio has commented on various aspects of the north-east outfit in recent days, but some of his most disparaging remarks were made in reference to the playing staff at the Stadium of Light.
The Sunderland Echo's Chris Young says Sunderland are "disappointed" with the manner in which Di Canio has conducted himself since leaving the club:
The Guardian's Louise Taylor has quotes from the 45-year-old, who spoke of Lee Cattermole, John O'Shea and Phil Bardsley in a particularly bad light:
Those two players [Cattermole and Bardsley] were rotten. The most unprofessional players I ever worked with. What Bardsley has done in the last year speaks volumes. Photos of him lying on the floor in a casino covered by £50 notes and laughing at the team losing on the opening day, that's public. It's no surprise these players were kicked out of my plans.
He [O'Shea] should say sorry to some of his team-mates for the many times he came into my office to say something unfavourable about them. This is the same person that also came to me when I first took over and said things about [Martin] O'Neill.
Sunderland dismissed Di Canio last September and have shown growing pains under new boss Poyet but are now beginning to put pieces of their puzzle back together.
The club have lost just twice in their last 10 matches across all competitions and recently booked their place opposite Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final.
Along the way, the Wearsiders managed a shock triumph over Manchester United, drawing 3-3 with the Premier League champions across two legs before defeating the Red Devils on penalties at Old Trafford.
Poyet inherited a squad that was massively influenced by Di Canio, whose short spell in the north-east included a summer transfer window with no less than 14 new signings.
As Young also points out, Di Canio's comments represent a big change of opinion compared to what was previously shown:
With a tough challenge afforded to him, the Uruguayan boss has coped well with the task put ahead of him and will merely be concentrating on what his club are doing on the pitch, with no attention paid to what goes on off it.
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