Di Canio shows his class after hostile welcoming

It was apparently, according to the media, a foolish appointment, given his previous affiliation with fascist symbolism and ideology. Perhaps di Canio does have a touch of fascism about him, maybe more. But that was never really the point,, was it? At Swindon Town the BBC let him write a column for them, and then their reporters turned on him as he was appointed at Sunderland.

Fascism is of course, a dangerous and foolish ideology, responsible for some of the worst atrocities in human history. Political beliefs in line with fascism should be dismissed as the lunacy they are. Yet there was never really any concrete proof that di Canio was a raving Mussolini lite fascist wanting to take Italy on expensive wars of conquest overseas. Di Canio is simply a football coach. His views on politics are irrelevant. No one is electing him to run the country, so what really did it ever matter what his beliefs are, as ridiculous as they may indeed be? Unless he was to start discriminating against players based on skin colour or other inherent characteristics, then it really doesn’t matter.

As it is, the Italian has responded to his critics in the perfect way. After a desperately unlucky defeat to Chelsea, where they were outrageously beaten by two unbelievably fortunate and freakish goals, both lucky deflections which happened to end up in the net, Sunderland have won two games in a row. 3-0 at Newcastle in the derby, a huge result, before beating Everton 1-0. It’s a highly satisfactory start for the new Sunderland coach.

Well done then. But how has he done it? Well his passion is key of course. It is noted often how he removed goalkeeper Wes Foderinhgam 20 minutes into a game against Preston once, so angry was he with the player’s display. He also fought with another player during his time at Swindon, epitomising the rage and passion of the fiery former West Ham forward.

Of course English fans remember well his push on the referee Paul Alcock once in a Premier League game, that brought with it a 12 game ban. And the time when he caught the ball rather than scored to allow an opposing goalkeeper to receive treatment.

Di Canio has brought his passion and fervour to the Sunderland job. He has reinvigorated his team. Suddenly they look fired up. It is hardly surprising why. Players are being asked to do a job they are capable of, rather than being run into the gorund as they were by Martin O’Neill. Di Canio has Stephane Sessegnon playing predominantly as an attacker, rather than having him tracking back all of the time as his predecessor did. He has also got Adam Johnson doing the same, and it is having a great effect on the team. Players are enjoying their roles and it seems to be working well.

Sunderland also look sharp. They have scored four counter attack goals, capitalising on opposing errors, under di Canio. Suddenly look they look so much fitter than they did before . Again this is partly an O’Neill failing. The Northern Irishman tended to run his players into the ground by getting them to play week in week out. The old fashioned former Aston Villa coach did not seem to understand the concept of rotation, so often did the same players play under him. That was a feature of his time at Villa and at Celtic too, and it is no surprise his teams tend to finish seasons limply. That would be skirted over by a mainstream media who fawn over O’Neill in the way they do over Harry Redknapp, but this was an out dated and out moded manager who could not keep up with the modern game.

In Di Canio, they have someone who understands modern football, who gets the idea of rotation and getting the best out of individual players by getting them doing what they do best, rather than rigidly trying to fit them into a limited system. It is working a treat. Suddenly a team sleep walking to relegation has awoken and is set to stay in the Premier League for another season. With a fiery character like di Canio controversy is never far away, and you wonder how long he’ll last, but his impact will surely not be forgotten, whatever the future holds for him and for Sunderland.