He was never being boring. Paolo Di Canio sacked at Sunderland

He was never being boring. Paolo Di Canio sacked at Sunderland
Di Canio - taking it on the chin

Di Canio – taking it on the chin

Sunderland have parted company with manager Paolo Di Canio.

In the job for less than six months, Di Canio confronted supporters after the team lost at West Brom last weekend.

With only one point from five games, fans were growing increasingly angry at results and at post match comments from Di Canio.

The manager had been publicly critical of his players and one of the players he offloaded in the summer, Sessegnon, scored for West Brom in their 3-0 defeat of Sunderland.

The club that had backed him to bring in 14 players in the summer, while releasing 15, has lost patience with a man who is never far from controversy.

When hired it was his political beliefs that made the headlines.

But many did wonder if such an inexperienced manager could cut it at the highest level.

Paolo Di Canio was, to quote Ron Atkinson, “a nutter” to manage when he played for him at Sheffield Wednesday.

I shall always recall Di Canio going out of his way to get sent off in a game at Hillsborough. He picked a needless fight with a linesman over a throw in. Big Ron had a right go at him in the dressing room, blaming Paolo for the outcome of the game.

Di Canio picked up the not inconsiderable frame of Atkinson, plonked him against the dressing room wall and informed his manager that he would not talk to him again in that manner. I have not used the exact words Di Canio employed to get his message across. Though I have always thought since that profanities sound better with an Italian lilt.

Di Canio wanted out of Sheffield and wanted to play for a London club. His playing career at Sheffield Wednesday came to an abrupt end when he infamously pushed referee Paul Alcock to the floor. He had spent several weeks telling fellow players that he would be “getting out of this hellhole.”

I have always looked upon that incident with the referee as constructive resignation.

Paolo Di Canio pushes referee Paul Alcock to the floor

Paolo leaves Alcock reeling

Fast forward many years and Di Canio the manager is angrily confronting players at Swindon and Sunderland. The way he dealt with one Swindon Town goalkeeper was crass.

One former Swindon player I know personally was signed by Di Canio. He told me: “He is a charming man. Away from football he is a wonderful host and was so good with players families. But he could lose it in the dressing room and he did have his favourites. I know. I was one of them.”

The difference between when Di Canio was playing, and today, is that it is the players who hold all the aces. Especially in the Premier League.

If they don’t like their manager they simply down tools and get them sacked. I’ve seen it happen.

Sunderland Football Club said they employed the man for his passion. That helped keep Sunderland up last season.

But passion alone is not enough and, when it boils over, the very people who thought it an attractive characteristic decide it can be a destructive quality.

I have little doubt that another club will be willing to take a chance on hiring Paolo Di Canio.

Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United could be among the first to call him. The current managers of both clubs are under pressure and, should Sheffield Wednesday lose at home to Doncaster Rovers next weekend, I could see Dave Jones being sacked at Hillsborough.

Di Canio once said of the steel city: “There is nothing to do on your day off than go to Meadowhall shopping centre. It is so boring.”

Not something that can be said about the man himself.


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