ONDREJ CELUSTKA admits he has some sympathy for Paolo Di Canio, despite the player revolt which prompted his dismissal as Sunderland head coach.
Sunderland face their first Premier League outing since Di Canio’s dismissal when Liverpool visit the Stadium of Light this weekend.
Di Canio was relieved of his duties last Sunday after a delegation of senior Sunderland players approached the club’s hierarchy to describe how life under the Italian had become unbearable.
Summer signing Celustka is not thought to have been among those players and the Czech right-back says he had no great issues with Di Canio’s strict disciplinary regime.
Yet the on-loan Trabzonspor defender understands the decision of Sunderland’s hierarchy, with the Black Cats propping up the top-flight table after a return of just one point from the opening five games.
“I’m obviously happy that I got a chance from the start and I’ve played all the (league) matches,” Celustka told Czech press agency CTK.
“This is a great experience for me and a big challenge, so I’m happy with it.
“But I’m disappointed with the start of the season and, unfortunately, Paolo Di Canio has suffered for that.
“In my opinion, the decision was a bit hasty because he was building the team and in the summer, 14 new players – including me – arrived. It needs some time to settle down.
“But, on the other hand, to win just one point from five is simply not good.”
The 24-year-old added: “It was forbidden to use mobile phones in the dressing room or near the physios and masseurs in the stadium.
“Players had to listen to the same music before the game too.
“He (Di Canio) was strict, but I respected it and minded my own business. I didn’t have a big problem with the restrictions.
“Perhaps not every single player liked it, but, as I said, it was no problem for me. I am thankful to him for giving me the chance to play.”
Celustka missed Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup victory over Peterborough due to a minor injury, but he is hopeful of being back in contention against Liverpool on Sunday.
And with Sunderland desperate for points, he knows the importance of caretaker manager Kevin Ball’s first Premier League game in charge of the Black Cats for more than seven years.
He added: “There are still plenty of games in the Premier League. We must keep on working hard and believe we will turn it around.”