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An Italian Revolution: In Pursuit of Excellence

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Sunderlands Pre-Season Preview

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Italian manager Paolo Di Canio is looking forward to spending his first pre-season with Sunderland following his appointment at the club towards the end of last season. After being appointed on the 31st of March, Di Canio led his side to two wins, two draws and three losses in the final seven games of the season to keep the club in the Barclays Premier League following a poor season under Martin O'Neill.

Having already signed ten players (Duncan Watmore, Valentin Roberge, Cabral, Modibo Diakite, David Moberg Karlsson, Vito Mannone, Jozy Altidore, El-Hadji Ba, Emanuele Giaccherini and Ondrej Celustka), Di Canio is keen to further strengthen his squad during pre-season in the hope of securing a mid-table finish in his first full season in charge. Despite already losing Danny Graham and Alfred N'Diaye on loan, Di Canio is also looking to ship out several players to reduce the wage bill and increase his transfer budget in order to sign some of his targets.

Sunderland have been heavily linked with Greek winger Charis Mavrias and Argentinian fullback Gino Peruzzi - although Di Canio is understood to have lost interest in Peruzzi due to recurring injury problems. The Italian has repeatedly stated he is scouring the market for a creative midfielder and also made it clear he may move for another striker with AS Roma forward Osvaldo strongly rumoured.

During pre-season, Di Canio's side will play 5 games - starting away at Scottish side Greenock Morton before facing Glentoran, Burton Albion and Burnley all away from home. Sunderland will round off their pre-season with a trip to linked club Asante Kotoko from Ghana.
 
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Good start mate, will check back to see how it goes :)
 
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Sunderlands Pre-Season Review

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Sunderland maintained a 100% record through pre-season as they won five games out of five. Italian manager Paolo Di Canio is said to have been impressed with the effort and drive of his players as they scored seventeen goals and conceded none. Despite playing five opponents his team were expected to beat, Di Canio said he was delighted with the results but more importantly - the performances.

In a press conference just days before the season, Di Canio said: "I am pleased with the way my players have played in pre-season. We played five games and won five so they've done what I expected of them in terms of results. In terms of performances, they've outdone what I had expected. When I arrived this team was made up of unprofessional and selfish boys - but now these lads are warriors; they're my warriors. We're ready to bring happiness to the supporters."

Pre-Season Results:
Morton 0-3 Sunderland
Glentoran 0-4 Sunderland
Burton Albion 0-4 Sunderland
Burnley 0-3 Sunderland
Asante Kotoko 0-3 Sunderland

Throughout pre-season, Di Canio mixed youth and experience as well as English and foreign players to create a family-like experience for his side heading into the new Barclays Premier League season. Seventeen goals were scored in pre-season - coming from nine different players which shows Di Canio isn't stuck for choice when it comes to attacking options. Steven Fletcher, Jozy Altidore and new signing Fabio Quagliarella will battle it out for the two striker positions in the team which also doesn't lack defensive options. During pre-season, five different centre backs were given playing time in the team and are all competing to make it into Di Canio's starting eleven for the first game of the season at home to Cardiff City. New signing El-Hadji Ba played in four of the five pre-season games and represented himself well - despite being considered the understudy to Swiss midfielder Cabral.

During pre-season, Di Canio managed to secure a further four signings which takes the total number of additions to the side to fourteen. Greek winger Charis Mavrias was the first to arrive during pre-season for £2 million before 18-year-old Belgian midfielder Dennis Praet also joined for £4 million. Experienced Italian striker Fabio Quagliarella then left Juventus to ply his trade at the Stadium of Light for a fee of £4 million and was soon followed by Manchester United full back Alexander Buttner who joined on a season-long loan deal.

When asked about his new signings, Di Canio had this to say: "My four new players are key to the new season. Mavrias, Dennis and Fabio all joined before our first game and have experienced pre-season with the squad. They all impressed me and fought hard like the rest of the team. Mavrias understands his role as an understudy to Giaccherini while Dennis knows he will be rotated with Seb regularly throughout the season and that is a big challenger for such a young man. Fabio has a lot of experience in World football and will bring some specific qualities to my team which I wanted. He will score goals for us this year. Buttner hasn't had time to play for me yet as he just signed but will provide competition with Colback. Obviously Jack had a fantastic pre-season so it is now down to Alexander whether he wants to play regularly as Jack is my first option."

Di Canio shipped out five players during pre-season; with three leaving permanently while the other two leave on loan deals. Strikers Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-Won left to Bournemouth and Augsburg respectively on year-long loan deals. Midfielder David Vaughan joined newly-promoted Crystal Palace for £2 million before Lee Cattermole and Phil Bardsley both joined Hull City Tigers for a combined fee of £7 million.
 
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Matchday 1: 18th of August
Sunderland 2-1 Cardiff City

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Sunderlands first game of the new season ended in a 2-1 victory over newly-promoted Cardiff City who put in a battling performance against the hosts. English winger Adam Johnson gave the hosts the lead while the game was still in it's infancy when he cut in from the left wing and hit a right-foot strike from 20 yards which beat the keeper at the near post. After Johnsons goal, the first-half went unusually quiet as both teams struggled to make any impression on their opponents. At half-time, Italian striker Fabio Quagliarella was replaced by Jozy Altidore who injected some much-needed fight into his side's cause. Just five minutes into the second half, Cardiff drew level. An outswinging Peter Whittingham corner was headed home by Kim Bo-Kyung. Later in the game, some fine passing from several Sunderland players saw an opportunity arise which allowed Emanuele Giaccherini to smash home to restore the hosts' advantage.

Man of the Match: John O'Shea

Managers Opinion: "Today the performance pleased me but maybe the result not so much. With no disrespect to Cardiff I wanted to see my team scoring more and today we did not do that. We enjoyed domination throughout and yet we only win by one goal so we will work hard on the training ground before next week. The last goal was exactly how I wanted to see my team playing - I think six or seven players were all involved in the build up with short, precise passes so I am pleased with my team in some aspects but not others."
 
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Matchday 2: 25th of August
Arsenal 1-1 Sunderland

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New signing Alexander Buttner had a game to remember at the Emirates Stadium as Sunderland earned a deserved point with a battling performance. The Dutch full-back gave his side the lead midway through the first-half thanks to a superb strike from the edge of the area. Swiss midfielder Cabral played a reverse ball into Buttner's feet before the 23-year-old smashed across goal and into the bottom corner. At half-time, young French midfielder El-Hadji Ba was replaced on his debut by Wes Brown as Jack Colback moved into midfield. With just five minutes remaining of the game, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain equalised for the hosts as Carl Jenkinson played in the 19-year-old.

Man of the Match: Cabral

Managers Opinion: "Today I am very happy with my lads. Young Ba had to start today because of one or two injuries and he really stepped up and made me happy today. Cabral was my warrior today in the centre of the park, he was an absolute animal. But overall, I am pleased with my group. We adapted well to a good team and this means we should have a good season. I am very happy."
 
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COC 2nd Round: 28th of August
AFC Wimbledon 0-5 Sunderland

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Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio made 8 changes to his starting eleven for the game against AFC Wimbledon which came just three days after the visit to the Emirates Stadium. The only survivors from Saturdays game were Alexander Buttner, El-Hadji Ba and Fabio Quagliarella. With just 12 minutes on the clock, the favourites had taken the lead. Winger David Moberg Karlsson smashed home from 5 yards after Quagliarella had nodded down for the young Swede. Greek winger Mavrias then smartly ran at the Wimbledon defence before neatly chipping the ball to forward Sessegnon who slid home from outside the area. Moments before half-time, Karlsson returned the favour to Italian striker Quagliarella as he slid a through ball for the forward to capitalise and make it 3-0. At half-time, El-Hadji Ba and Quagliarella both left the field with Cabral and Jozy Altidore their replacements. Midway through the second half, American striker Altidore beat three defenders before pulling back a low cross for
Sessegnon to tap home. The Benin international rounded off the scoring in the 80th minute when he struck into the top left corner from the edge of the area.

Man of the Match: Stephane
Sessegnon

Managers Opinion: "I am very pleased with todays performance. The result doesn't matter to me too much because we were heavy favourites but we played very well and scored some positive goals. Several younger lads got a game today and they all impressed. There isn't much to say because it was an expected victory but I am impressed with my boys right now."

COC 3rd Round Draw: West Bromwich Albion (Away)
 
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Would you guys like to see me continue with individual match updates or do monthly updates either way?

I personally have no preference so it's down to you guys. Also, this will be the last story I do of FM13 and I chose Sunderland as I support them myself and thought it'd be good to have them as my final story. Let me know!
 
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Would you guys like to see me continue with individual match updates or do monthly updates either way?

I personally have no preference so it's down to you guys. Also, this will be the last story I do of FM13 and I chose Sunderland as I support them myself and thought it'd be good to have them as my final story. Let me know!
I prefer monthly updates mate but these individual match updates have been great so I'm not too fussed. I would say if doing the individual reports means it is slowing down you playing the save then just do monthly updates.

Oh... and 4 points from those two games is a good start and it is nice to see many of our new lads getting chances and performing well!
 
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I prefer monthly updates mate but these individual match updates have been great so I'm not too fussed. I would say if doing the individual reports means it is slowing down you playing the save then just do monthly updates.

Oh... and 4 points from those two games is a good start and it is nice to see many of our new lads getting chances and performing well!
Yeah, I get you mate. I was just wondering, I don't mind either way, but I guess in the long run it will slow me down if I get 5/6/7 games in a month then it'd take me ages just to get through one month so I'll try monthly updates out.

Yes, I was very pleased with the results - especially Arsenal.

I'm trying to keep it very realistic i.e the way we play football, who plays, transfer targets and Di Canio's thoughts etc because I really like him. Were you at the match on Saturday?
 

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Great story, layout and detail m8 keep it up
 
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Matchday 3: 1st of September

Sunderland 2-2 Liverpool

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Greek winger Charis Mavrias made his league debut in the months opener as Liverpool visited the Stadium of Light. A strong Sunderland side took the lead thanks to a freak goal when former Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet cleared the ball straight to Stephane Sessegnon 40 yards out. The Benin international smashed the ball goal wards with his first touch and - with Mignolet stranded on the edge of the box - the ball ended up in the back of the net. On the hour mark, striker Steven Fletcher doubled the lead thanks to Mavrias' smart through ball which allowed the Scotsman to round the Belgian keeper. A Steven Gerrard free-kick and a wonderful solo effort from Brazilian Coutinho - who beat 5 Sunderland players - levelled the scoring to give Liverpool a point.

Man of the Match: Steven Fletcher

Managers Opinion: "I am very disappointed today. The first-half performance was very pleasing, so too was the second-half, but how can we let a two goal lead slip? We can't afford to do this in the Premier League - it's the best division in the world and we will drop too many points if we keep doing stupid things like this. My team must improve and not fall asleep because today Coutinho embarrassed us. It was a sensational goal but we should not let this happen to us. On a better note, Mavrias really impressed me today with that performance."
 
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Matchday 4: 15th of September
West Ham United 0-0 Sunderland

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Italian manager Paolo Di Canio named a slightly weakened side for the trip to Upton Park due to several injuries to first team players. Keiren Westwood earned his first start of the season in the Sunderland goal. Despite Emanuele Giaccherini hitting the crossbar from 20 yards and Andy Carroll's best aerial attempts, the game remained goalless. Di Canio introduced Jozy Altidore, Adam Johnson and Stephane Sessegnon at the break to hopefully add some impetus to his side's attack - but the game ended 0-0; with Di Canio cutting a frustrated figure on the sidelines.

Man of the Match: Modibo Diakite

Managers Opinion: "Again, I am very disappointed with my players. It is now the fourth matchday and I thought by now they would know what is expected of them but one or two players frustrated me today and they will have to do a lot better in the future. It is good to get a clean sheet but we have to pick up three points if we want to arrive where we want at the end of the season. This is not good enough because we didn't score and I will make my players work hard in training this week."
 
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Matchday 5: 22nd of September
Sunderland 2-0 Aston Villa

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Due to their impressive performances against West Ham, Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio again chose to play youngsters Charis Mavrias and Dennis Praet in his starting eleven at the Stadium of Light. Altidore started up front alongside Steven Fletcher while Cabral - who had been praised by Di Canio before kick-off - again started in midfield. An impressive first-half display from Sunderland killed Aston Villas chances of taking three points home despite only going in 1-0 down. Charis Mavrias - who impressed again - smartly beat his marker to cross for striker Steven Fletcher who nodded home with five minutes of the first-half left. At half-time, winger Adam Johnson left the field to be replaced by Dutchman Alexander Buttner. As the game neared an end, a long ball forward from goalkeeper Keiren Westwood was headed down by Steven Fletcher into the path of Mavrias who slotted home for his first competitive Sunderland goal.

Man of the Match: Charis Mavrias

Managers Opinion: "I am much more delighted with my group of lads after today. They trained hard all week and it showed today against a very, very strong Aston Villa side. The performance was brilliant today - something worthy of European football. The finishing was okay but maybe could be better; two goals after dominating so much may not be enough on another day so we are not 100% but for now it will do. We brought in 14 new lads and it is just the fifth match so we are still adapting to my style but we are getting there."
 
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Yeah, I get you mate. I was just wondering, I don't mind either way, but I guess in the long run it will slow me down if I get 5/6/7 games in a month then it'd take me ages just to get through one month so I'll try monthly updates out.

Yes, I was very pleased with the results - especially Arsenal.

I'm trying to keep it very realistic i.e the way we play football, who plays, transfer targets and Di Canio's thoughts etc because I really like him. Were you at the match on Saturday?
Yeah I can see what your doing, feels very Di Canio-esque.

And yeah I was at the match, didn't deserve to get beat at all but at least we actually played some decent football in the first half and Jozy looked very good up top too. At least we have a nice easy run of home games to look forward to now XD
 
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Yeah I can see what your doing, feels very Di Canio-esque.

And yeah I was at the match, didn't deserve to get beat at all but at least we actually played some decent football in the first half and Jozy looked very good up top too. At least we have a nice easy run of home games to look forward to now XD
Just trying to keep it realistic. Got some targets lined up for January who we're linked with atm :p

Yeah, I totally agree. Watching us pass the ball was a huge change from the football we played for the majority of last season and a vast improvement. Altidore was an absolute animal and if we can get someone in to stick close to him (or keep Fletcher fit) we'll be okay. We were unlucky to get beat but it's one of those things I guess. And yeah, 7 wins from the next 7 home games is my guess :p
 
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