Steven Fletcher: 'Paolo Di Canio didn't want us to smile'

Steven Fletcher of Sunderland celebrates his goal with Adam Johnson during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland at Selhurst Park on August 31, 2013
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Steven Fletcher claims the atmosphere at Sunderland while Paolo Di Canio was in charge was intimidating.

Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher has claimed that former boss Paolo Di Canio created an atmosphere that was too intense at the club.

Fletcher, who has just recovered from injury, felt that laughter and jokes should have been encouraged more among teammates.

Instead, when he returned from injury he found a strange and intimidating feeling around the club.

"When I came back into the first team after being injured, it was a shock to see how intense everything was," Fletcher told The Guardian.

"Not the training - it was hard but anyone can do hard training - it was the intensity of the atmosphere. It was just weird. You had a little laugh and you had the feeling the head teacher was going to tell you off. It was intimidating.

"He [Di Canio] can't deny that he didn't want us to smile and laugh in training but at every other club I've been at laughter's been a big part of things, of creating togetherness."

Fletcher could feature as Sunderland take on Newcastle United this afternoon.

Manager of Sunderland Gus Poyet gives instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Sunderland at Liberty Stadium on October 19, 2013
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