Di Canio: Players don't fear me
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has brushed aside suggestions his players fear him as the countdown to the season continues.
Di Canio is known for his fiery personality and has introduced strict training regimes since taking the place of Martin O'Neill in the latter stages of last season, when the Italian led Sunderland to English Premier League safety.
There have been reports Di Canio's management style has sparked confrontations with some of the players but when asked whether his squad are scared of him he laughed off the idea, describing the club as a 'family'.
"The players cannot fear the manager, it's not possible. I don't kill people, I let them train," he said.
"No, they are not worried. Obviously, they don't love me and I told them they don't need to love me, they have to follow me, and then they're going to be OK.
"Sometimes we have a fight and sometimes they drive me crazy and then I'm going to get angry, but to be honest, it is more like a family, with respect. Sometimes the son or the daughter goes away from the right road and I pull them back."
Sunderland finished in 17th place last season and Di Canio is keen to avoid a repeat this time around, placing particular importance on his side's fitness.
"To reduce the gap between us and the top clubs it's obvious that we need a strategy and tactics and technical quality," he said.
"But physical condition is also one of the main parts, otherwise it is difficult to reduce this gap."
Sunderland are currently in Hong Kong taking part in the Asia Trophy where they will face Manchester City in the final on Saturday having already beaten Tottenham 3-1.