Sunderland: Replacing Di Canio could be a poisoned chalice

Paolo Di Canio: Lost in gesticulation

As the tyrant who ruled Wearside with an iron fist departs, and Sunderland players look forward to having ketchup on their bacon sandwiches once more, the club have a tough task on there hands in appointing a new manager – a task Ellis Short will find slightly more difficult than giving the order to restock the condiment trolley in the staff canteen.

The search for the dictators successor has begun as Short sells potential candidates on the bright lights of managing in the Premier League, whilst mumbling through the fact that Sunderland are a team rooted to the bottom of the table with an unproven bulging squad – aspects that make the job rather more unappealing to many of those who were thought to be in line to succeed the Italian. 

That’s not to mention that morale in the camp is low following Di Canio’s systematic regularity of criticising his players in front on the cameras, which was bound to have the same effect on the squad’s morale as having your nails clipped with a pair of shears.

It will be argued that with Di Canio gone, the camp will be happier, but the current Sunderland vintage and setup at the club means this is one job that could be a poisoned chalice to whoever takes it on.

Whoever Di Canio’s successor will be, they will have to get the best of the 14 summer signings that the former Swindon manager brought to the club.

The likes of Jozy Altidore, Emmanuele Giaccherini, and briefly Cabral before he was dropped, have shown promising signs so far this season, but some of the other summer arrivals are yet to prove they can be an asset for Sunderland.

Away from having to weave some magic with the form/ability of the playing squad, more importantly, the man who will replace Di Canio will have to work together with Roberto De Fanti, the club’s director of football who holds considerable – perhaps too much – power.

Premier League history has shown that manager/DoF relationships rarely go well, but De Fanti will be staying on Wearside. De Fanti has been responsible for assembling the playing squad and therefore it will be up to the new gaffer to knit this group of relative strangers together - 13 of Sunderland’s summer signings arrived from outside the Premier League.

How would De Fanti’s relationship with Di Canio’s successor develop should the new manager decide to part ways with some of his players in January?

Perhaps the more worrying aspect of De Fanti’s work at Sunderland so far is that he had a large say in Di Canio’s appointment in the first place. 

With this working relationship in mind, it is no surprise a couple of Italian’s are being linked with the Stadium of Light hot-seat already. Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Di Matteo are the current names doing the rounds as the bookies aim to take some early money.

Zola is no surprise baring in mind the job he did knitting Watford’s strangers together last season, but as he makes noises that he is more than happy to continue his football education with the Hornets, and Di Matteo having been left on the shelf so long, it seems that the search for a new manager won’t be so easy.

With the calibre of the early front runners for the post, it suggests Sunderland won’t be able to attract a ‘big name’ manager to match the ambition of the fans or the clubs summer transfer activity and maybe for good reason.  

Ellis Short knows he has to get the next manager right, many would argue that he may have less options than he would have thought when he relieved Di Canio from his duties. Cola, ketchup and caffeine might have returned to Sunderland, but will it be enough to whet some managers’ palates?

Who should Sunderland appoint? Was sacking Paolo Di Canio the right choice? Leave your comments below or get in touch via our Twitter or Facebook account, don’t be afraid to have your say. 


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