3 April 2013

Why Sunderland's gamble could pay off

File:Paolo Di Canio at Upton Park.jpg
Photograph from Wikipedia Commons
The circus that is the Premier League continues to take twists and turns as more and more managers take part in the merry-go-round that is the industry.

The latest jester to join in the royal mess is Italian nut-job Paolo Di Canio. After initially refusing to reveal his political views he has now said that he is not a fascist. Former member of the Labour Party David Miliband left the Sunderland FC board after expressing his disagreement with the decision to appoint the man who once did a Nazi salute while playing for Lazio. 

File:Martin O'Neill Aston Villa vs FH.jpg
Photograph from Wikipedia Commons
The enigmatic former West Ham favourite is replacing well-regarded boss Martin O'Neill, who was sacked after a poor run of games left the Mackems in the relegation mix. 

The North-East side have gone eight games without a win and the Irishman paid the price after a dire first-half performance set the tone for a drab 1-0 defeat at home to champions elect Manchester United. 

The efforts of the Sunderland players, especially in the first half, would have been way below the standards that O'Neill would have expected of a team fighting for survival. There was no urgency to get forward and help the front man Danny Graham from anyone in the team, and no real pressure exerted on the United forwards. 

There has been plenty of pessimistic observations surrounding O'Neill's sacking as he is a well-proven manager who has never got the chop before in his career. But after an excellent start as Black Cats boss his  former side have struggled intermittently this season, with this latest run taking them down to 16th place and just one point clear of the play-offs with a very tough last seven games to come.

Many chairmen have reacted at this stage of a season by getting rid of their managers and usually it is just the final nail in the coffin. Phil Brown's sacking from Hull City, Mick McCarthy's departure from Wolves and it now looks like Brian McDermott's Reading exit, all sealed their clubs' fates. 

The Di Canio racism saga has rolled on as Charlton manager Chris Powell has refused to elaborate on the Italian's claims that their friendship proves that he is not a racist. 

Paolo Di Canio's managerial statistics:
Swindon Town11 May 201118 February 20139554182356.84
Sunderland31 March 2013Present0000
Although on purely football terms, the 44-year-old's record as the manager of Swindon Town is exquisite. After winning League Two last season he led them into the League One automatic promotion places before leaving the club after a dispute with those on high. 

His style of management brought as much criticism as it did praise as he fell out with players, had bust-ups on the side of the pitch and was all-round a journalist's dream. But what is certain is that he produced results and brought success.

It remains to be seen whether or not he can translate his techniques from lower league football to the big stage of the Premier League, and the huge club that is Sunderland. However he is sure to make sl28ctYoMnFQHfLBeO0MevpNlOpR56lLKthe club really need is someone who can transform their fortunes in an instant. 

He will split opinion, but he will definitely get a reaction from his players and the ones that don't get on board will feel the wrath of their new boss. Sunderland have taken a massive gamble with this appointment, but it will certainly provide a different approach and hopefully for the Wearside team, a different amount of points. 

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