PAOLO DI CANIO wants Sunderland to win next month’s Barclays Asia Trophy, despite the tournament arriving at an early stage of the Black Cats’ pre-season preparations.
The bulk of Sunderland’s squad will return to training on Wednesday to undergo their first pre-season under head coach Di Canio’s stewardship.
Sunderland are yet to announce full details of their friendly schedule, but the main event of the club’s pre-season will be their participation in the Barclay’s Asia Trophy, in Hong Kong, from July 24 to 27.
Di Canio’s side will face Spurs in the semi-final of the four-team tournament before taking on either Manchester City or South China FC in the final or third place play-off.
Fitness will be Sunderland’s priority from the competition, with another three weeks to run until the start of the Premier League after the second Trophy game.
But Di Canio wants to foster a winning mentality among his troops and is eager for the Black Cats to emerge victorious.
Di Canio said: “I want to win every game. Even when we have a friendly game I have a winning mentality.
“Even when I play cards with my daughter I want to win every time. I want to upset her because I want to win. My mentality is to win every game.
“There are obvious priorities, the Premier League is more important than friendly games.
“But only if we deliver this mentality can we take every competition seriously.
“So the Barclays Asia tournament is very important because we are going to face the top sides and that’s the dream of every player – that is the mission, to play every game against a top side.
“The fact that we have the chance to do this in Hong Kong means only the country changes, not the desire, the commitment that we have to deliver on the field, so it’s a good opportunity.
“We want to win the tournament and we will do everything we can.”
Di Canio is relishing the prospect of having a sustained period with his squad during pre-season after being thrust into an emergency survival situation, following his appointment as Sunderland boss in March.
“My primary objective is to have a team that will fight every single game together, so for this we have to spend as much time as we can together to bond and to become a very united team,” he added on the premierleague.com.
“I want to deliver my message in the way we want to play and this period can help me a lot because we have the chance to stay all day together.
“We can do double sessions, then some friendly games and when something goes wrong I can have a chat with them straight away rather than during the season when they run away after the training session.
“This is a very important period for every coach because these two months can decide the outcome and the destiny of the season.”