For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Tuesday Topic: Di Canio needs results - and quickly
AFTER a third defeat in four Premier league games this season, Sunderland already find themselves cut adrift and propping up the rest of the division. Regardless of what Paolo Di Canio has said – and there has been plenty – it was not supposed to be that way.
And it could get worse. With a double header against Liverpool and Manchester United on the horizon, the up-coming fixtures puts even greater emphasis on this Saturday’s trip to The Hawthorns, where Sunderland will come up against a West Brom team without a win themselves.
While Sunderland could quite easily spring a surprise and defeat the likes of Liverpool or United – as they have done in previous years – it is not inconceivable to suggest Sunderland could be looking at a tally of just four points from the opening 21 available to them. Assuming, perhaps wrongly, they will at least pick up something positive over the course of the next three games.
Only last Thursday, before the defeat to Arsenal, Di Canio suggested it would take a few more weeks before supporters would see Sunderland become one of the best teams outside of the Premier League’s top six.
His comments were borne out of a belief his new-look squad will develop greater understanding and fluency once the players have had more time to gel.
The problem by that time, however, is Sunderland will already be right in the thick of relegation concerns, unless they have won two of their next three games. That is not a challenge any club would relish after such a frustrating start.
Di Canio has already realised the task facing him at the Stadium of Light is a very difficult one. In being afforded the responsibility of completely changing a club’s whole outlook, while keeping them above the relegation zone in his first full season, he needs quick results.
The Premier League does not normally offer patience to managers, regardless of the amount of changes that have taken place on Wearside, and Di Canio will know that.
Yet the fact of the matter is he deserves more than a few months to succeed at Sunderland. While he is in charge of getting the best out of the team on the pitch, the bigger picture is that this is the first season of a new era at the club.
Owner Ellis Short wanted to change the way things were done and has done so. In appointing a director of football, Roberto De Fanti, and a chief scout, Valentino Angeloni, the manager no longer has the power the likes of Martin O’Neill, Steve Bruce or Roy Keane enjoyed after Bob Murray sold the club to Drumaville in 2006.
Di Canio might have described the type of player(s) he wanted in his squad, but the recruitment side of things was in the hands of De Fanti and Angeloni. Fourteen new arrivals later and Di Canio is working on integrating them all with one another as quickly as possible.
A new country for most of them and a new lifestyle, not to the mention the frenetic pace the Premier League is played at compared to the Italian, Dutch, Swedish, French, Portuguese, Italian or even Swiss leagues that many of the summer recruits have previously played in.
Foreign imports should not be judged immediately, but there has hardly been an outstanding performance to be excited by from any of the signings – just hints of more encouraging times from individuals such as Ondrej Celustka, Jozy Altidore and Modibo Diakite.
The situation with Cabral has summed up how hard the the transition from an overseas league to Premier League can be, with Di Canio speaking out over the weekend in a manner which may not bode well when he needs to rely on individuals to turn Sunderland around.
“At this moment he is behind three I’ve got in the middle.” Hardly a ringing endorsement from Di Canio of one of his summer signings, suggesting Seb Larsson, Craig Gardner and David Vaughan are all ahead of him for a central midfield berth. Before adding: “Vaughan can interpret the game in England better than Cabral, who is slow paced.”
Too many changes, too soon? Perhaps. Sunderland, though, are stuck with that and Di Canio must conjure up a way of delivering results.
His honest and outspoken views might not be the way to achieve short-term targets. He is already known to have annoyed members of his dressing room in the past, which has contributed to the situations faced by Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole.
Spend time in his company and dissect what Di Canio has said and it is understandable Sunderland supporters like what he has to say. Much of what he says strikes a chord with the every day supporter.
There is a growing consensus that footballers are over-protected and hold too much power in an era of extraordinary riches, so it is refreshing when a Premier League boss says so.
It is a monumental risk to adapt such an approach so early in to his reign. He might have kept his thoughts close to his chest initially to keep Sunderland in the Premier league after taking over in April, but he has let everyone know who is boss since July.
Sunderland need results and better performances already before increased worries and concerns take a grip on the whole club. Two wins from his 11 matches in charge dating back to April is not good enough by his - or the club’s - standards and the majority of the 2013/14 squad are yet to experience a league win in a red and white shirt.
For now the Sunderland fans remain on Di Canio’s side and such a summer overhaul at the Stadium of Light means there will be no one in the boardroom rushing to push the panic button just yet.
Improved fortunes, though, are required sooner rather than later, otherwise the recent battles to avoid relegation with Sunderland squads boasting average players under O’Neill, Bruce and Keane might not seem as bad after all.
PAOLO DI CANIO’S SUNDERLAND RECORD
Chelsea 2 Sunderland 1
Newcastle United 0 Sunderland 3
Sunderland 1 Everton 0
Aston Villa 6 Sunderland 1
Sunderland 1 Stoke City 1
Sunderland 1 Southampton 1
Tottenham 1 Sunderland 0
Sunderland 0 Fulham 1
Southampton 1 Sunderland 1
Crystal Palace 3 Sunderland 1
Sunderland 1 Arsenal 3
* Premier League only
Comments are closed on this article.