Paolo Di Canio and Andre Villas-Boas took to the media following their teams’ Premier League finale to voice displeasure with how their final fixture played out.
Tottenham defeated Sunderland 1-0 on Gareth Bale’s late strike from long range, but it wasn’t enough to send Spurs to the Champions League.
Spurs boss Villas-Boas believed if his side had been given a penalty decision in the opening minutes, it would have put pressure on Arsenal and could have changed the outcome of not just Spurs match but the Gunners as well, who ultimately won 1-0 to grab the 4th position.
Villas-Boas said, “The penalty was decisive. I don’t want to put the spotlight on the referee, but I think it would have been absolutely decisive in these kind of fixtures where emotions are felt very, very strongly. Obviously certainly be felt at Newcastle. It could have potentially changed the nature of the other game and it would certainly have changed the running of our one.”
The Spurs manager continued to say there was a conference call in January where he spoke with referees about decisions involving Gareth Bale.
Sunderland boss Di Canio ripped his team’s discipline following the match, with the outrage centered around defender Phil Bardsley’s controversial photo which appeared on the internet. With Sunderland’s safety assured following Wigan’s loss to Arsenal midweek, Bardsley and teammates went out to celebrate, but Di Canio believes this disrespected the club. Bardsley was pictured laying on a casino floor covered in 50-pound notes.
Di Canio ranted, “It’s obvious. How I can play a player that probably is blurry for three, four days after what’s happened? More important I want to deliver a very clear message since the beginning that there is not excuse to behave like he did. If we don’t punish this kind of behaviour, how do [the academy players] grow up? Thinking they can laugh about what they saw on the website picture? Maybe they think it’s fantastic; to be like a gangster. But what mentality are we going to deliver?”
He continued to say he found the situation worse than his former job at Swindon Town. “I thought that at Swindon, League Two, arrogant, ignorant footballers in some way so they don’t know exactly because they’ve not had many chances to stay at the top level. I have to tell you unfortunately I found a worse environment in terms of discipline in this club.”
Finally, going forward, Di Canio believes changes are necessary. “They can’t stay with me, people who behave like that” he said. “I told them that we can win or draw [at Spurs] – or lose with dignity, respecting the club’s name and the fans that will follow us at the game. “Otherwise I will reduce their holiday. I will give them only the minimum I can give them, which is four weeks – 28 days, instead of probably 38 or 40. Because in some way we have to start a change of mentality. I am going to sit at the table with the chairman. Obviously if we want to have a different future in terms of results we need to bring in good players but with a professional ethic.”