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Di Canio's approach could work both ways admits Johnson
AFTER Paolo Di Canio's insistence that he will not change his ways, winger Adam Johnson thinks Sunderland's players must accept the manager's honesty and use any criticism as a tool for inspiration.
Di Canio's willingness to highlight his players' mistakes in public has been a source of debate since the defeat to Crystal Palace a fortnight ago, with many suggesting he should keep his comments to individuals behind closed doors.
But the Italian, speaking in his pre-match press conference on Thursday, rubbished such thoughts by claiming a manager afraid to say what he feels could be perceived as a sign of weakness in an era where player power is strong.
And Johnson, who had to deal with public criticism of aspects of his displays from Roberto Mancini during his two years at Manchester City, thinks Di Canio has every right to take such an approach - even if it might not be to every player's liking.
Johnson said: “You just have to accept he is the manager and get on with it. It depends on which type of player you are, I suppose - to how you take it. It could kill players' confidence and things, but with other players it could inspire them.
"It is all about how you take it really. You might not even listen to it. You have to just get on with it and go with the manager's ways. We have seen in a few games where it has really worked. In others it hasn't, so he has to just stick with it. We need to do the best we can and start to pick up some points – and deal with criticism."
Mancini quite often demanded greater work-rate from Johnson during his time at the Etihad Stadium, although it was in his younger days under Gareth Southgate and Steve McClaren at Middlesbrough when he first had to cope with hearing negativity about his displays.
“My biggest critic is myself," said Johnson. "If you don't know by my age … you don't need your dad to tell you. If you do I think you are struggling to be fair. You just know when you have done well.
"There are always times when a manager is not happy. Throughout your career, whoever you are with. It's definitely harder when you are a young lad coming through.
“The young players are obviously easy targets. That's how you learn. Some of my younger days at Boro it happened. You learn the hard way as a young lad. You probably get more criticism because they want you to learn. That will always stand you in better stead for the future."
The 26-year-old has been frustrated with a start to the season which has left Di Canio annoyed and disappointed. The manager still holds a confidence that Sunderland will do well this season and Johnson agrees.
Arsenal provide a difficult test today as Sunderland go in search of a first win after defeats to Fulham and Palace and a draw with Southampton. Whatever happens at the Stadium of Light this afternoon, Johnson thinks fans should remember it is very much a work in progress after seeing 14 new players arrive.
“When a new manager comes in, with new players, it doesn't just happen overnight," he said. "It takes time. We have found that out with a lot of new players coming in, getting to know each other and getting to know how each other plays.
"It does take time, the same as anything does. Hopefully in the next few weeks it will start clicking together and we can start to get some points that we need."
None of Sunderland's new arrivals commanded the sort of price-tag which Arsenal's latest recruit cost the Londoners on deadline day. Mesut Ozil's £42m fee was almost double the entire transfer spending of Sunderland.
Johnson remembers facing Ozil for England Under-21s in 2009, when Germany went on to European Championship glory in Sweden.
The Sunderland winger, who is intent on forcing his way back in to England's World Cup plans for next summer, said: “I have played against him a couple of times before. I played in the group game which we drew (1-1) in the group, we battered them, but then they battered us 4-0 in the final.
“He has got a big price tag, a big signing, and it will be very interesting. He didn't really stand out at the time when we played them. But they were much more of a team, there was not one specific individual who stood out. A typical German side.
“There was not one particular star but he has gone on to do great things. I am really quite surprised he decided to leave Real Madrid, he still had a lot to offer there.”
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