It was a surprise when Paolo De Canio was appointed as the new Sunderland manager yesterday – but there again it was a surprise when Martin O’Neill was fired on Saturday night – and it seems the club already had Paolo lined up after he resigned his position at Swindon Town in mid February, over what he called broken promises.
Paolo De Canio – new Sunderland manager
Di Paolo had Swindon promoted from League Two last season when they won the league, and it was the Italian’s first full season in charge – and when he resigned his position in February, Swindon were well positioned in League One, and at the moment are in a play-off position in 5th place.
When Martin O’Neill signed on at Sunderland in early December of 2011 replacing Geordie Steve Bruce – we thought in a couple of season he could have Sunderland in the top six in the league, a scary thought, but consistent with the success he had at Celtic and Aston Villa over the previous eleven years.
And even before Celtic, Martin had done very well at Leicester City, and won the Football League Cup in 1997 and 2000 and City were beaten finalists in 1999.
Time finally ran out for Martin O’Neill
So it’s a real surprise that Martin couldn’t do better at the Black Cats, and it’s his first real failure in management, and that after making a great start with a run of seven wins in his first 10 league games as manager at the Stadium of Light.
But maybe Martin’s demise was that he didn’t have his right hand man, John Robertson at his side at Sunderland, and previously the duo had enjoyed great success together.
The top candidates for the job on Sunday were thought to be Roberto Di Matteo and Martin Hughes, but American owner Ellis Short plumped surprisingly for Di Canio – and the Italian has ensured Sunderland fans he will put fire in the bellies of the Sunderland players.
And we think he will do just that, and it makes the Newcastle – Sunderland derby a week on Sunday look a more difficult game for Newcastle.
We think Paolo will have a positive influence on the Sunderland side and they will avoid relegation, but his appointment at the Stadium of Light has already been surrounded by controversy with politician David Milibrand, a Jew and Vice Chairman of Sunderland resigning because of some racial comments previously attributed to Di Canio.
And Di Canio proclaimed back in 2005 that he was a Fascist, but not a racist.
Paolo was surrounded by controversy while at Swindon for heavens sake – so we think the controversy will continue at Sunderland, and at some time in the next couple of years – if not sooner – he will leave the club – probably by abruptly resigning – as he did at Swindon.
It’s a high profile job at Sunderland and we wonder if Di Canio has the stability of personality to stay in the job for anything longer than say a couple of years – if that.
What do you think?
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org