The fiery Italian called his stars in for a crisis meeting at the club’s Cleadon training ground on Sunday following their disappointing 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
But the summit quickly turned sour after Di Canio pointed the finger at a number of his players, blaming them for their poor start to the season.
A clutch of his players, however, are understood to have responded angrily at Di Canio’s dressing down, telling the Italian in no uncertain terms what they thought of him.
It is believed certain players told the manager, who signed 14 players during the summer transfer window, they did not like him and did not want to play for him.
Di Canio is then said to have told his disgruntled players to tell the club’s hierarchy to sack him if they no longer wanted him in charge.
|Di Canio booed by his own fans|
‘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.’
Sports4G understands details of the stand-off were quickly relayed back to Ellis Short, who has taken the decision to axe the manager after just six months in charge.
Short immediately informed director of football Roberto Di Fanti of his decision.
A players’ meeting has been called for this morning, where the squad will be informed of the decision to let him go.
Di Canio will also return to the club’s HQ for the final time Monday to pick up his belongings.
DI CANIO'S 14-MATCH REIGN
April 7 - Chelsea 2 Sunderland 1 (L)
Apr 14 - Newcastle 0 Sunderland 3 (W)
Apr 20 - Sunderland 1 Everton 0 (W)
Apr 29 - Aston Villa 6 Sunderland 1 (L)
May 6 - Sunderland 1 Stoke 1 (D)
May 12 - Sunderland 1 Southampton 1 (D)
May 19 - Tottenham 1 Sunderland 0 (L)
August 17 - Sunderland 0 Fulham 1 (L)
Aug 24 - Southampton 1 Sunderland 1 (D)
Aug 27 - Sunderland 4 MK Dons 2 [Capital One Cup] (W)
Aug 31 - Crystal Palace 3 Sunderland 1 (L)
September 14 - Sunderland 1 Arsenal 3 (L)
Sep 21 - West Brom 3 Sunderland 0 (L)
On Saturday, Di Canio accused his Sunderland players of having 'rubbish in their brains' after they slumped to a 3-0 defeat at West Brom on Saturday.
The fiery Italian had a bizarre stand-off with the travelling fans after the final whistle, staring at them when some supporters made abusive gestures.
'It is my responsibility to receive their negative energy,' he said.
'It was a bad day for everybody. I wanted to show them I will never give up. We have to keep together. I still believe in myself. I will never change.
'The players need to release the rubbish from their brains. They have to have more confrontation, more anger with each other.
'They need to look into each other's eyes. They lost their belief after 20 minutes. They turned their faces away. They must try to discover their mentality.
'One result could be good medicine. One win and everything will become clear. As an honest, intelligent person, I know we have to quickly get out of this situation. Someone in 10th position can get sacked, but I am not worried about my job. But I am worried about the results.
'You will have to ask the board about me. They will of course ask why we are bottom of the table and think about their decisions. If we continue to lose, lose, lose, there will be consequences.'
It proved to be the final straw, however, as a Black Cats statement confirmed Di Canio’s departure.
It read: ‘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.
End of the road: Di Canio will return to the Academy of Light training ground on Monday to collect his belongings after being axed
‘The club would like to place on record its thanks to Paolo and his staff and wishes them well for the future.’
Short wanted to give Di Canio until after the international break to turn things around - but details of the angry confrontation has forced the issue.
Sunderland remain bottom of the Barclays Premier League without a win - and with fixtures against Manchester United and Liverpool on the horizon the task of climbing up the table will not be easier.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon and former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo will be contenders to replace Di Canio.
Di Canio arrived at the Stadium of Light in March, taking over from Martin O’Neill.
The Italian’s appointment had the desired effect as he saved the club from relegation but a series of bust-ups with his players placed huge question marks over his position at the club.
Members of the squad have been incensed by the former West Ham forward’s decision to publicly criticise players and have complained privately about his strict training regime.
It seems yet another confrontation has hammered the final nail in Di Canio’s Sunderland coffin.
OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE ITALIAN WHEN DI CANIO ARRIVED
Di Canio launched an Italian takeover at Sunderland in his first full day in charge at the Stadium of Light back in April.
Following his controversial appointment, he was given full rein to pick his backroom staff.
Fabrizio Piccareta, who was his assistant at previous club Swindon Town, joined him as first-team coach. Domenico Doardo joined as goalkeeping coach, Claudio Donatelli joined as fitness coach, and Giulio Viscardi completed the new-look backroom staff as physiotherapist and masseur.
The four all served alongside Di Canio at Swindon from May 2011 to February 2013. Steve Walford, Steve Guppy, Jim Henry and Seamus McDonagh all followed Martin O'Neill out of the club.
Abrasive: Di Canio was said to have fallen out with a number of players, including Phil Bardsley who was sold after being pictured in a casino surrounded by £20 notes
DI CANIO'S FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE IN CHARGE AT THE STADIUM OF LIGHT
Not for the first time, Paolo Di Canio left supporters open-mouthed at the Hawthorns on Saturday. After the 3-0 loss to West Brom, he marched up to the 2,500 visiting Sunderland fans and attempted to communicate with them.
He shrugged his shoulders, opened his arms then finally walked away as he received a mixed reaction. Later, Di Canio tried to explain his actions. It was to be his final press conference as Sunderland’s manager:
What were you trying to say to the fans?
Pick me. Blame me. Leave the players out. I have no worries about that because they (supporters) are right. They are absolutely right. If I was in their position, I would be more furious than them.
Some of them did blame you — do you understand that?
Absolutely. I did much worse when I was a fan. I can’t tell you what I did, otherwise I will be arrested. But I hope that one day those people will celebrate with a smile. They pay, they suffer, make sacrifices. One day I will leave, the players will leave, but they will remain.
Can you turn this round?
I believe in what I’m doing. I do this because I believe in my regime. My regime is for top, top professionals.
Discipline, practice. We completely dominated the game. The first ball in our box, our opponents scored. Then we lost our belief and finished playing football.
One win could turn this round.
Do you fear for your position?
You have to ask the chairman, Ellis Short and the board. It’s normal to think about what’s going on. If we keep going lose, lose, lose, it will be a natural consequence, not only for Paolo Di Canio... but what’s the result in the end?
How do you know the players still have faith in you?
I believe they are following me. I want them to share responsibility. Don’t turn your face to the other side. It’s better to have a confrontation. Look in each other’s eyes.
Fake Di Canio? It doesn’t work.
Would you ever walk away?
What? Never. I always believe that I am the best manager in the world. Those 24 players have to adapt to me. It doesn’t work the other way round.
INS: Modibo Diakite (Lazio, free), Duncan Watmore (Altrincham, undisclosed), Valentin Roberge (Maritimo, free), Cabral (Basle, free), David Moberg Karlsson (IFK Gothenburg, free), Vito Mannone (Arsenal, £2m), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar, £6m), El Hadji Ba (Le Havre, undisclosed), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus, £8.6m), Ondrej Celustka (Trabzonspor, season-long loan), Charis Mavrias (Panathinaikos, £2.5m), Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea, season-long loan), Fabio Borini (Liverpool, season-long loan), Andrea Dossena (Napoli, season-long loan).
OUTS: Ahmed Elmohamady (Hull, £2m), James McClean (Wigan, £2m), Titus Bramble (released), Matthew Kilgallon (Blackburn, free), Ryan Noble (Burnley, free), Alfred N'Diaye (Eskisehirspor, season-long loan), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool, £9m) Danny Graham (Hull, season-long loan), Billy Knott (Wycombe, one-month loan), Stephane Sessegnon (West Brom, £6m).