Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Forget his politics what about his managerial career?

Bobby Charlton once told his fellow Manchester United board members that if they sacked Sir Alex (or plain Mr Alex) Ferguson during his early non-trophy laden years they would be making the biggest mistake they had or would ever make. Presumably the directors at Arsenal feel the same about Arsene Wenger after his trophy years dried up and over at Wigan they are just happy to have Roberto Martinez in charge, Man Utd, Arsenal and Wigan currently have the three longest serving managers in the English Premier League.

Meanwhile up in the North-East at Sunderland the merry-go-round of managers continues with the jumping, hyperactive, man-child of Martin O'Neil replaced by the jumping, hyperactive, man-child of Paolo Di Canio. Leaving aside the jokes about Paolo being able to get the players to train on time you have to ask what football grounds are there for appointing him in the first place?

I have to say I as horrified when stories started circulating that West Ham might be interested in appointing him as a successor to Big Sam and I was shocked when the Interweb seemed to be filled with Hammers fans demanding his return. Have those people forgotten what happened under the last Italian in charge?

There is no football reason at all for employing Di Canio at Sunderland but then again we have long since learned that football reasoning and logic go together like a tall Swedish centre forward and a short Spanish manager. Swindon had the biggest budget in League Two when Di Canio went there and he won promotion, they had the biggest budget in League One and when he walked out on them they were second in the league, he has so far in his managerial career achieved the very least of his employers expectations.

You can't help avoiding the conclusion that Sunderland wanted a 'big football name' to follow the likes of Bruce, Keane and O'Neil rather than following Newcastle's lead and getting a manager witha half decent football pedigree on limited resources. Surely it would have made more sense to look at Chris Powell, a young manager who has achieved more at Charlton than Di Canio, or John Sheridan at Chesterfield. I suspect though that given the huge rewards lurking around the corner for the Premier League sides next season (at least £30 million extra per club over this seaon) Sunderland's board didn't want to be seen experimenting with a smaller name but instead threw all their Easter eggs into one basket with this appointment.

I've never been a fan of O'Neill's - as can be seen from some of my older posts - I think he has managed to survive on air and goodwill as a a manager, although he has a good reputation with players as a coach, the anointed successor to Sir Alex until the old bugger decided he was going to live and coach forever, with a very poor win record of 29.1% at Sunderland. He has however been more unlucky than most with injuries but also he has managed to sign players who couldn't score in the Premier League at their old clubs and who carried on that aversion after moving to Sunderland - and that's without pausing a while to consider what he has done to Conor Wickham, a player with a record of a goal every five games at Ipswich but now one in every twenty five at Sunderland, yet he manages a goal every three games for England U-21's.

The Di Canio era at Sunderland begins away at Chelsea, then is followed by Newcastle away. So by the time that they play their first home game under their new leader (Everton on April 20th) they could be, on current form, five points from safety with four games (Villa, Stoke, Southampton and Spuds) left. I think even the most anti-Fascist among the Stadium of Light faithful will forgive him any past indiscretions if he can pull this one out of the hat.


Edit: Thanks to Span who points out my error in leaving out David Moyes from the opening paragraph, stupid really because I was thinking about David Moyes when I began writing this!

9 comments:

Span Ows said...

Have you forgotten Moyes at Everton re the longest serving? Or am I going to get another shock when I read the sports pages?

The AF start at Man U is another point I always make about Wenger. His first 10 years (probably more) are the best ever of any English club.

I like O'Neill an dam ambivalent about Di Canio, in fact I'm more inclined to support him BECAUSE of all the stupid hyperbole, especially from Miliband (you may or may not have seen similar comment I posted all over the web on various forums: here's a man who served with, sat beside and communicated daily with liars, hypocrites, thieves and communists (and probably a few fascists) and he gets kudos because he leaves "on principle", pathetic (btw I know his father's story)

Wouldn't it be great if they beat Chelsea!..after marching out in the best uniform after having killed their personally raised-from-puppy dogs on the training ground...

Paul said...

Thanks Span - I have placed a paragraph confessing my error!

I agree about Miliband's comments being taken with a pinch of salt given he was buggering off to the States.

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