Swindon Living La Dolce Vita With Di Canio


You can see it now. With a microphone in his hand, Paolo Di Canio dominates the centre-circle at Wembley Stadium with the adoring cheers of the Swindon faithful reverberating in the Italian's ears.

The Johnstone's Paint Trophy may be viewed as a hindrance to many threadbare lower league squads, but for Di Canio, it offers the chance of having his name scribbled into Swindon folklore. The Robins booked their spot in March's final against Chesterfield with a 2-1 aggregate win over Barnet on Tuesday, causing Di Canio to label life as 'incredible'.

Di Canio has never been a man to harbour modest ambitions. During a 23-year playing career the charismatic Roman gladiator garnered loving support from Glasgow to Naples. Admittedly the 43-year-old will regret not collecting an array of winners medals. Di Canio's honours list is relatively small; a Serie A champion with AC Milan in 1996 and a UEFA Cup with Juventus in 1993 were his only major achievements.

However, Di Canio the manager is aiming to be remembered as a kleptomaniac when it comes to trophies - the Johnstone's Paint will inflict him with a thirst for more.

Many football fans raised an eyebrow when Di Canio was named as the Wiltshire club's new gaffer. Chairman Jeremy Wray certainly believed in the former fiery forward's rhetoric though, backing Di Canio to bring twenty-six (six on loan, goalkeeper Wes Foderingham signed on a permanent deal after an initial loan spell) players in by the end of the January transfer window.

Predictably, Di Canio has not suffered fools gladly, Paul Alcock knows all about his temper.

Di Canio has already shipped two of his signings, Leon Clarke and Alberto Comazzi, out of The County Ground.

If you fall out with Di Canio there seems little leeway to work yourself back into his plans. Leon Clarke was the perfect example, the striker endured a very public disagreement with his manager following a cup defeat to Southampton. Di Canio had to be held back from physically harming a disruptive Clarke, but he would certainly damage the player's reputation.

The following day it was announced that Clarke would not play for Swindon again and he was eventually shipped out on loan to Chesterfield.

Mehdi Kerrouche has also fallen foul of Di Canio's iron fist. It all started so well for the Algerian, who scored eight goals in 18 appearances for the Robins before becoming unsettled under Di Canio's rule.

Kerrouche found himself isolated and then sent out on loan to bitter rivals Oxford United for a month.

If anything, Di Canio has demonstrated his political nous as the fans will most definitely favour their manager over a player who has gone on to represent their enemy; especially in a derby month, although the striker won't be able to face his parent club when the two sides meet on March 3rd.

Despite the numerous off-field distractions Di Canio poses, the fans are content with their leader, and why shouldn't they be?

Di Canio may have lost seven of his first thirteen games in charge, but he has since steered the side to within one point of the automatic places in League Two and a cup final.

The season so far has evidently been a steep learning curve for the the manager who possesses dreams of managing in the Champions League. His passion may override any logic at times - Di Canio has been sent to the stands three times this season - but fans love to see that.

Di Canio's obvious love for the game has always worked in his favour and he shows no signs of mellowing. There is no need to cool down when it is all going so well...

In terms of his transfer activity, Di Canio does have some work to do. The risk of signing so many players in the hope of gaining immediate promotion from the basement division is risky business. The judgement day will come in May but Di Canio clearly lives for now.

His heart will certainly be pumping when he, after never reaching Wembley during his eight year playing career in England, finally walks out on to the hallowed turf during his first season as a manager against Chesterfield on March 25th.

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