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Pope on Sunderland: They not do so well at the moment

The Sunderland chaplain who presented a red and white striped shirt to Pope Francis said the pontiff was "delighted to keep it" and took the gift back to the papal apartments.

Father Marc Lyden-Smith said the Pope was aware of the Wearside club's struggles and told him: "They not do too well at the moment."

"I said no, no, Holy Father. They are bottom of the Premier League. We need you to pray."

"Very diplomatically, he said: 'I pray for all footballers that they reach their potential.'"

"I'd like to think that he'll be wearing [the Sunderland shirt] on Sunday afternoon," the chaplain added.

Winless Sunderland face fierce local rivals Newcastle United in Wear-Tyne derby this Sunday.

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Gus Poyet named as the new Sunderland manager

Gus Poyet previously managed Brighton and Hove Albion. Credit: PA Wire

Gus Poyet has been named as the new Sunderland manager, the club has announced.

The Uruguayan has agreed a two year contract with the club and will take charge of the Black Cats with immediate effect.

Poyet, 45, replaces controversial Italian Paolo Di Canio, who was sacked last month by bottom-of-the-table Sunderland.

The former Chelsea midfielder previously led Brighton and Hove Albion into the Championship during a successful four year tenure before leaving in acrimonious circumstances in June.

Di Canio denies team bust-up at Sunderland

Paolo Di Canio denies there was a bust-up with his players
Paolo Di Canio denies there was a bust-up with his players before being asked to leave Sunderland AFC Credit: John Walton/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Paolo Di Canio, who was sacked as manager of Sunderland AFC in September, has denied that there was a "training ground bust-up" with his players before he was asked to leave.

"There has been a lot written in the media in recent days, much of it wholly untrue," he said.

"There was no training ground bust-up as some are reporting, and many of the players have since sent me messages thanking me for my time as their manager and helping them to improve as footballers."

Sunderland AFC confirmed on 22 September that it had parted company with Di Canio.

Football fan who punched horse admits violent disorder

A football fan who punched a horse after his team lost to their arch-rivals has admitted violent disorder.

Barry Rogerson punched a horse after Newcastle lost to Sunderland in April. Credit: ITV News

Barry Rogerson, 45, was charged after trouble started when Newcastle United lost 3-0 at home to Sunderland in April.

He appeared in the dock at Newcastle Crown Court today with five others who also admitted violent disorder.

Rogerson, of Bedlington, Northumberland, previously denied the offence.

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Football pundits' mixed reactions to Di Canio's exit

Football pundits had mixed reactions on Twitter to head coach Paolo Di Canio's exit from Sunderland AFC:

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Di Canio signed 14 players, brought in an entire back-room staff, and now he's gone. Football madness. Match that Downton!

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Di Canio sacked. Not sure what to make of that. He saved Sunderland last season but they have been awful so far this season.

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Suprised about di canio? Not me,not just about the results, treatment of players big factor also

For more on this story, visit the ITV Sport website

Sunderland's statement on Di Canio's exit

Sunderland AFC has confirmed it has "parted company" with head coach Paolo Di Canio.

The club said in a statement:

Sunderland AFC confirms that it has parted company with head coach Paolo Di Canio this evening.

Kevin Ball will take charge of the squad ahead of Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup game against Peterborough United and an announcement will be made in due course regarding a permanent successor.

The club would like to place on record its thanks to Paolo and his staff and wishes them well for the future.

Police called to row at Sunderland team hotel

Paolo di Canio
Paolo di Canio's Sunderland team drew 1-1 at Southampton after the fracas. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Officers were called to a hotel last night following a clash between coaches of Sunderland’s football team and a group of Southampton fans.

Police spoke to three men – aged 20, 45 and 47 – following the altercation but none were arrested.

Sunderland manager Paolo di Canio said: “It was a stupid moment from silly guys under effect of lots of alcohol...

“No footballers, no fight. This is the real situation and the way it happened."

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