Sunday People: The fiery Italian remarkably showed his anger at the team’s display against West Brom with his party trick before a furious verbal assault on his flops.
Di Canio took a drink of water, sprayed it upwards, let it fall on his face and rubbed it in. He did this a few times in front of his shocked men.
Then the Black Cats' under-pressure boss told his team “that is what you have done to me, spat in my face” before telling them to do it to themselves.
Di Canio made an even more rude suggestion about what he would like to have thrown at his team – one we cannot print in a family newspaper.
This prompted a war of words, with some players saying that is exactly what he has been doing to them with his insults.
Di Canio would not back down and then questioned their character and willingness to get hurt in tackles.
One player said they would have shown more spirit for a manager they respected rather one who criticised them in public.
The rage between Di Canio and his disenchanted side went on – and continued the next day at the training ground.
Di Canio ended the ranting session by telling the players they could phone owner Ellis Short if they wanted him sacked.
The Italian gave the team permission to call Short and apparently did not think that would make any difference – as he felt he would be backed.
However, a series of calls were made to the London-based American and that swayed the decision and forced his exit.
Short had told confidantes that Di Canio “would get until the Newcastle game” to turn it around.
He made that decision in the aftermath of West Brom but his time-table changed entirely when he found out the depth of anti-Di Canio feeling.
But he has got some support.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is sorry Di Canio is not dancing around the dug-out against him on Sunday – and hopes he will be back.
Rodgers is a fan of the madcap Italian and genuinely regrets his axeing just days before the Sunderland clash.
And as a manager who has felt the sickening pain of the sack, Rodgers sent a message to Di Canio as he looks for a friend – with words of advice on how to bounce back.
Rodgers left Reading after a brief spell before getting back on the managerial up escalator that took him to Liverpool – and he believes Di Canio can do the same if he learns.
The Kop chief said: “I met Paolo a few times and friends of mine who knew him from his Celtic days told me all of the stories.
“You can see his passion and professionalism. I am sad for him. I can see what he was trying to do.
“He was trying to create a culture of work and devotion to the game. It’s not the worst thing to do. He has devoted his own life to football.
“Sometimes when you are a top player it is difficult. You get to a certain level and if you see other players not in that same level it can be hard for you to manage that.”
Rodgers thinks Di Canio can come back a better manager.
He said: “You learn from your mistakes. I am sure he will go away and reflect on it.”
Sunderland’s caretaker manager Kevin Ball will look across at the opposing dug-out for inspiration.
Ball, who has been given no indication as to whether he will lose his caretaker tag, will be hoping to go as far as his old pal Rodgers.
Ball, who has spent nearly 20 years as player and coach with Sunderland, said: “When I did my pro license with Brendan he was very honest and open and got on smashing with everybody.
“When you see him now, you see the same Brendan as I saw then. Which is a great person.
“Brendan did a similar role at Chelsea to my role here. He’s finally ended up at Liverpool which is one of the best clubs you could wish to be at.”