Eccentric, unpredictable, talented – just some of the Italian’s traits which he has taken from his professional career into management.
Paolo Di Canio has been appointed as Sunderland manager, replacing veteran Martin O’Neil. This sacking was surprising to me as the Northern Irishman is an experienced coach with a great resume, and it just goes to show the amount of trigger-happy owners in the sport at the moment.
Di Canio, the charismatic ex-West Ham striker, has impressed in his first managerial position at Swindon Town. Although frequently surrounded in controversy like his playing career, he had impressive managerial statistics and has instilled a winning attitude in the League One side who he achieved a promotion with.
Di Canio was a fantastic player who had the ability and the audacity to score unbelievable goals. He was devoted to West Ham, but had many notably negative incidents in his career. He is best remembered, along with his goals and talent, for the display of sportsmanship against Everton and the dramatic game against Bradford City, in which he went on strike so to speak.
It remains to be seen what kind of an impact he makes but, good or bad, he will make an impact. Di Canio was rather enigmatic in his first press conference as Sunderland manager, evading questions regarding his politics and claiming he would bet everything he owned on keeping the Premier League side up.
And they need a boost, because they’re currently in free fall. Sitting just one point from the relegation zone, the Black Cats haven’t won in eight, and lost again at the weekend against soon-to-be champions Manchester United.
The problem isn’t with Sunderland’s desire or effort, but with their personnel. It’s difficult to define Sunderland’s greatest attacking threat. They have strong strikers, but not particularly fast wide men to get into good crossing positions.
There’s no doubt that Adam Johnson and Seb Larsson can cross, but they’re struggling to get into viable positions. Stephane Sessegnon is talented, but is he the type to lift the players and drive them to victory? I don’t think so.
Di Canio’s job is simple. Win the football matches remaining to keep Sunderland in the division. He seems confident — can he deliver?
Regardless of the job he does, he’s going to be entertaining for neutrals. He believes in the beautiful game, and his random interactions and explosive moments in the media are bound to be exciting.