Less than 24 hours after sacking Martin O’Neil, Sunderland appointed the ever-eccentric Paolo Di Canio. Several questions have been asked of this appointment, the most important one being can it be successful in keeping Sunderland in the Premier League or not?
This appointment could go one or two ways it will either be a stroke of genius or ridiculous all round.
Firstly, the history of changing a manager at this point of the season and expecting dramatic changes just doesn’t seem to happen. Most recently was last season when Mick McCarthy was sacked and Wolves, if anything, got worse.
The same seems to be happening this season at Reading. Reading this season, in my opinion, have accepted their fate and will be relegated without a whimper. However, at Sunderland there still seems to be some fight in the squad and more importantly, Di Canio is a man that will fight until the bitter end. If he can pass his passion on to his players, it could be the difference between success and failure.
The temperament of Di Canio is something that could be a potential hurdle to overcome. His antics at Swindon Town didn’t go unnoticed, such as substituting Wes Foderingham, a goal keeper who went over 1,000 minutes without conceding a goal, and expecting this player to apologise for his poor performance in a single game.
The issue is whether or not Premier League players will accept Di Canio’s antics, as they might see it as an insult to their reputation and also their much bigger egos.
On the other hand, many Sunderland fans may feel that the players need to become aware of the harsh realities of the situation they’re in. If this involves using unusual antics, such as confrontation and public humiliation then so be it – as long as it keeps the players on their toes.
Another issue is whether or not Di Canio can produce similar success as he has in the lower divisions. Moving up two divisions from a League One team to a Premier League job is a big step.
His success at a club with limited financial resources is impressive. He enabled them to gain promotion in his first season and was in contention for back to back promotions this season, before things turned sour between himself and his employers.
His successful style and the way he wants his players to perform showing 100% commitment coupled with attacking intent, is one which given time may become a successful combination. The only issue is he doesn’t have time to produce this combination and needs to turn things round quick.
Overall, time will tell if Sunderland have made a brilliant or ridiculous decision but for now the pressure is upon Di Canio’s shoulders. The final seven games of the season are sure to be entertaining for Premier League fans whether or not it ends well for Sunderland.
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