Titus Bramble claims that Di Canio was all about his own image rather than building a successful squad.
Sunderland defender Titus Bramble on Wednesday labelled manager Paolo Di Canio a “strange person” and claimed he was more interested in improving his image than establishing successful relationships with his players.
Di Canio joined the Premier League club in April and succeeded in saving them from relegation, but he was deeply critical of the players, branding some of them “ignorant and arrogant”.
He also made liberal use of fines to punish what he considered unacceptable behaviour, and Bramble, whose contract expires this month, said the result was that players felt angry and alienated.
“He was fine at first, but he’s a strange person,” Bramble told the Daily Telegraph.
“We all remember what he did as a player, shoving a referee over. He was no angel and players know that. Then he comes in and starts trying to make out he’s an angel and does everything perfectly.
“There are a lot of strong characters in that Sunderland dressing room and he is upsetting them. It isn’t just those who are leaving.”
Bramble added: “I’ve never played under anyone like him and I’ve played for some of the best managers around. Steve Bruce, Roberto Martinez and Sir Bobby Robson. He thinks he knows everything, but he has got a lot to learn.
“He’s got a long, long way to go before he gets anywhere near as good as Sir Bobby Robson. He’s a young manager trying to stamp his mark on things, but he’s making some big mistakes.
“He’s targeted the easy players, the ones who are leaving anyway, trying to show he’s the boss. I was fined for not going to a weights session. Everyone else at the club thought it was ridiculous, but he’s trying to be tough. He comes out in the media and hammers players and he hasn’t said a word to them.”
Di Canio’s appointment created a media storm over his previous declarations that he was a fascist, but the Italian subsequently insisted that he “does not support the ideology of fascism”.
Bramble said he saw no signs that the former West Ham United striker held troubling political views, and praised his work on the training pitch.
“Everything is so detailed. He’s one of the best I’ve played for in that respect, but his man management skills need a lot of work,” he said.
“I never got any impression he was racist. From what I saw of him, he doesn’t care about a player’s colour or creed.
“Obviously, we were aware of the fascism thing, and the pictures of him doing the salute in Italy (while playing for Lazio), but I’ve always refused to prejudge anyone and he never gave any indication he held those sorts of views.”