Paolo Di Canio says he will be pitting his wits against one of the best managers in the Premier League this weekend.
The Italian is set to lock horns with David Moyes for the first time as a boss when the two clubs meet at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.
Since taking control of the Black Cats at the end of March, Di Canio has presided over a narrow 2-1 defeat away at Chelsea and a headline-grabbing 3-0 triumph over Newcastle last Sunday.
The Tyne-Wear derby victory lifted Sunderland to 15th position in the Premier League table after a dismal run of nine matches without a win.
And Di Canio believes that this weekend’s test against Everton will provide evidence as to how much progress has been made since his arrival on Wearside three weeks ago.
“You are talking about one of the best sides in the league and a side which has been one of the best for many years now,” Di Canio said of Everton.
“I like the way they play, thanks to their manager David Moyes - who is one of the best managers in this league.
“They are a solid team, physically strong - their size is something we have to concern ourselves about because they have four players who are well over 6ft tall – and they have quality.
“So it is a tough team to play against but we are happy to be playing against them because you enjoy playing the top teams in this league and it will be a good challenge for us.”
Former Swindon chief Di Canio also praised his counterpart Moyes for establishing Everton as a consistent contender in the top half of the Premier League.
“If I am not wrong, in the last eight years he has only one time finished out of the first eight places,” explained the Italian. “That shows you the level and quality David has as a manager.
“You must remember, he has not spent a fortune every summer. Always, he has brought in one or two players each summer to add to the main group.
“They have a clear identity and really good, effective players.”