Tag Archives: sunderland

Di Canio may not win over some fans, but he needs to win over Sunderland's players

Paolo Di Canio‘s appointment as Sunderland manager has filled the back – and indeed some front pages – of our newspapers all week. But why? His fascist beliefs have come to light once more, of course. But that’s hardly news.

In his extraordinarily interesting 2000 autobiography, Di Canio said: “I am fascinated by Mussolini. I think he was a deeply misunderstood individual. He deceived people. His actions were often vile. But all this was motivated by a higher purpose.”

Coupled with his fascist salute to Lazio’s right-wing ultra supporters in the 2005 Rome Derby, it makes the former-West Ham and Celtic star something of a dodgy character because of his political beliefs.

When the Italian was appointed the managers role at Swindon Town in 2011, one of the club’s sponsors pulled the plug over his support for Mussolini.

So why are the media making such a fuss now?

Well, his appointment as manager of Sunderland prompted the resignation of former Foreign Secretary David Miliband from the club’s board last week, citing the head coach’s “past political statements”, that reignited the debate.

While the British media love to cause controversy on players personal lives, it doesn’t make Do Canio’s beliefs – whatever excuse he makes for his past statements – right. But the Italian is not in the north-east of England to talk politics, only football.

The truth is that Sunderland are currently in a relegation battle. And if I was a Sunderland fan, my thoughts wouldn’t be with Di Canio’s previous statements or actions, but with the crucial survival of the club in the Premier League.

League Two and League One may be miles away from the Premier League. But the passion, arrogance and theatre that is Paolo Di Canio may just precisely what’s needed.

He may need work to win over some fans, but he really needs to win over the players.


Is Paolo Di Canio the right man for Sunderland? Or is there no place for a man who once praised fascism in English football? Let Rob Smith know via Twitter (@robsmithireland)

What the hell is happening at Arsenal?

It’s been one of Arsene Wenger‘s worst weeks as Arsenal boss. After the midweek 4-0 demolition at the hands of AC Milan, Wenger watched Arsenal slump out of the FA Cup against Sunderland on Saturday evening. While his peers and his players believe otherwise, Arsenal fans generally believe that it’s time for a managerial change at the Emirates. It may not be the worst thing that could ever happen to the club.

Let’s face it, he’s idolised by the Gooners faithful. And rightly so. He’s brought in quite an amount of silverware including the Premier League, FA Cup and Community Shield numerous times – not forgetting the famous “invincibles” Arsenal team of 2003/4. But it’s now seven years since Arsenal last won a trophy. Arsenal fans are losing their patience and after the Sunderland game Roy Keane, working for ITV as a pundit, described Wenger’s current squad as the worst Arsenal team he had ever watched. Ouch!

I believe a new voice at the Arsenal dug-out might be a nice, fresh change for the club. Football can be a ruthless business at times and even Arsene Wenger wouldn’t be immune to getting the sack. A friend of mine, a complete Arsenal fanatic who absolutely adores the French boss, believes he should resign immediately for the good of the club. Well, if Wenger was to leave now, he would leave in the knowledge that the red half of North London will worship the ground he walks on.

At the moment things are going from bad to worse at Arsenal. And who could take his place, you ask? Louis Van Gaal? Fabio Capello? Mick McCarthy? Well, that’d be another story altogether. Arsenal play Spurs in the North London derby next Sunday – victory is crucial for Arsene Wenger.

Always read the small print

In January, Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam was linked with a move away from Bloomfield Road and was rumoured with a transfer to Liverpool. The seasiders’ manager Ian “Ollie” Holloway would make a percentage of any transfer Adam completes and came under criticism as many claimed this was the reason he held off bids from Liverpool even labelling their £4 million offer as “disgraceful”.

Adam eventually made the move to Anfield for £7 million last week, Ollie made a nice few bob out of the deal and the media said nothing about it. But Holloway personally making a nice lump sum of cash out of a transfer isn’t the first unusual clause in a footballer’s contract.

When former Arsenal midefielder Stefan Schwarz joined Sunderland in 1999, the Swede had a clause in his contract banning him from space flight. “At the end of the day we are protecting the club really”, said then-chief executive John Fickling “But one day it could become be quite acceptable to put such clauses in various contracts”. And with that went Schwarz’s ambitions of becoming the next Neil Armstrong.

Got a billion quid spare? Because that’s how much Real Madrid maestro Cristiano Ronaldo‘s buy-out clause is. Buy-out clauses are normally three or four times a player’s market value to keep temptations away from other clubs. Messi’s, for example, is approximately €300 million. Now, nobody has €300 million to spend on a player, let alone €1 billion. Looks like Cristiano’s going nowhere. Unless if Man City….

Finally, Chelsea paid €15 million to FC Porto to activate André Villas-Boas’ release clause in his contract for the Portugese side to join the London team. But another former Porto and Chelsea manager went one better. Before winning the treble with Inter, José “The Special One” Mourinho said “My contract is simple. I’ve got another three years, with a clause that allows me to leave whenever I want”. Then along came Real Madrid and the rest, as they say, is history. At least Inter then hired Rafa Benitez. Ahem.
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