Martinez shock at Di Canio appointment

New Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio poses for photographers

New Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio poses for photographers

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ROBERTO Martinez admits he was taken by surprise at the managerial merry-go-round at relegation rivals Sunderland.

The Black Cats elected to make the big change with just seven matches remaining, relieving Martin O’Neill of his duties and replacing him with Paolo di Canio.

From the outside it looks a major gamble, with the Italian having never managed higher than League One.

Martinez says he was taken aback when he learned of O’Neill’s departure – but reckons things like this go with the territory of being in the Premier League.

“Obviously we don’t know what the internal situation is at the football club,” Martinez told the Evening Post.

“I have to say it has come as a surprise to everyone that Martin left before the end of the season. But changes are normal these days – you just learn to get on with it.

“The new man will bring in a completely different approach, and probably that is part of the reason why this league is the best in the world.

“It’s colourful, it’s exciting, it’s unpredictable. That’s why people love it so much.

“I’m sure the media will be happy, but Sunderland are a phenomenal club with a great tradition and they’re capable of finishing the season strongly.”

Di Canio, who previously admitted in a 2005 interview with an Italian news agency to being “a fascist, but not a racist”, refused to expand on his political views during his first press conference yesterday.

“It’s impossible for me to comment, I don’t know who has said what in the past,” the Wigan boss (pictured right) added.

“All I know is that when you are in this situation, you are focussing on yourself and your own football club – and I’m sure that is the case for every team involved in the relegation fight.”

DANNY Redmond twice put his side ahead before the Latics Development Squad was eventually beaten 4-2 at Coventry yesterday.