Pete Sixsmith would like to think Paolo Di Canio’s outburst will cost him hard in the pocket – and also herald the start of a period of silence …
Before setting out for the snooze fest on Saturday, I tuned into Football Focus on BBC 1. It is a long time since I watched this particular programme – indeed, the last time may have been when Scots hack Sam Leitch was the host back in the days when football coverage was considerably less than it is now.
Sam, a pugnacious and thoughtful journalist of the old school, has long departed to that great pressroom in the sky, and the presenter now is some 12 year old called Dan Lewis, a clone of Jake Humphreys and various other young men who seem to believe that all football started in 1992 and that the only clubs worth talking about are Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.
However, for this programme, they decided to slum it with “minnows” Sunderland (we were described as that in at least one paper/web site after putting Manchester United out of the League Cup which shows what the current press gang wants to know about history, ethos and passion) as they had an interview with former manager Paolo Di Canio.
Interview or monologue? Difficult to tell the way it was presented, but I got the distinct feeling that there was a fair amount of film left on the cutting room floor, as one thing everyone agrees on is that Di Canio can talk for Italy, the rest of the European Union and the entire solar system.
And talk he did. The gist of his TV piece was that it was everybody else’s fault but his. The players had snitched on him to the Chairman and Chief Executive. The Director of Football had brought in the wrong players. He had wanted British players and Di Fanti had given him anything but. Certain players were trouble makers etc. etc.
Not once did he say “Well, I might just have handled things better.” Not once did he say “Maybe I went in a bit too hard. I will know better next time. It has been a learning experience for me”.
The next day, The Sun on Sunday, whose daily stable mate had called Di Canio a Fascist and castigated Sunderland for employing him, published an interview with the Italian which was far more forthright than the TV appearance.
Now I have to say that I have not read it, not being in the habit of subscribing to the profits of the reprehensible Murdoch regime, but the interview was paraphrased in all the other rags that I read and once again, everyone else was at fault but him.
John O’Shea was two faced and wouldn’t look into his eyes when he spoke to him, spread tittle tattle about O’Neill and the other players and he wouldn’t make any complaints to me. Hmmm, wonder why not?
Cattermole and Bardsley were dreadful people who he wanted out of the club asap and they didn’t wear the right clothes or brush their hair properly and they smelt a little bit and never did their homework on time.
Fletcher was so used to relegation that he didn’t work hard. That particular fox was shot last Wednesday
Any residual sympathy that he might have had on Wearside for guiding us to those two wins in April disappeared in an orgy of whingeing that far exceeded anything that Steve Bruce came out with. I half expected him to reveal that he had been born in Walker or Gosforth and that he had been dismissed for having Geordie roots.
He left us in September with a side so lacking in confidence and belief that a repeat of the 15 point season looked on. Established players were so appalled by his behaviour and attitude that they quite rightly went to the owner and told him how low morale was. The new players who had come in must have thought that they had entered a mad house.
Compare his style of management with that of his successor. Where the Italian used the stick and the mailed gauntlet, his Uruguayan successor has opted for the carrot and the silk glove. And look where it has got us; in with a chance of avoiding relegation, in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup and the final of the League Cup.
The one positive that Di Canio’s regime has given us is the fact that the players are fit. He did say that we would see the benefits of his pre-season later in the year when players needed to draw on their reserves of strength. The extra time games against Chelsea and Manchester United showed that. The players did not complain about that or the lack of ketchup and mayonnaise. What they objected to was the sheer unpredictability of a man who said one thing and then did the other.
We seem to have in Poyet, a head coach who will trust players when he has to and who will crack down when it is needed. His comments after Saturday were sharp and clear and he knew that some of his squad were not good enough. By keeping his thoughts to himself, any comments he makes to individuals later, counts for far more. I suspect that had Di Canio been in charge, it would have all been about him and what he did when he played and how the players were lazy, disobedient etc. etc.
The club have made it very clear today that he has broken a deal that he made when he left not to blab to the press. By making his mouth go, he has probably lost a fair bit of his pay off. Good. The club should use that to help supporters travel to away games in what is becoming a very expensive period for us.
As for Paolo Di Canio, I hope that is the last we hear of him – although I suspect it won’t be.