Mixed feelings over capture of Di Canio

Monday 1st April 2013 17:47

Paolo Di Canio: Fans feeling both fearful and excited

Paolo Di Canio: Fans feeling both fearful and excited

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FanZone's Sunderland blogger Michael Graham admits to feeling a mix of fear and excitement over the club's appointment of Paolo Di Canio.

There can be little doubt that Peter Reid is the seminal Sunderland manager of the modern era.

The team with Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips at its apex at the turn of the century certainly left an impression on those who saw it.

Most people remember that side cutting a swathe towards the upper echelons of the Premier League, but what is often forgotten is that it all started with seven games to save a season. Seven "cup finals", in fact, according to Reid when he first walked into Roker Park to replace Mick Buxton and facing a second tier relegation scrap.

It feels like a whole other lifetime ago. Actually it feels like an entirely different club. One which played its football at a different ground, at a very different standard, and with a different badge emblazoning its shirts.

Yet I couldn't help but feel a certain sense of déjà vu this week as an older, possibly antiquated, traditional manager with stated Sunderland connections was removed and a brash young go-getter came breezing through the door with seven games to ensure survival.

I keep on being asked by people what I think of the appointment of Paolo Di Canio as Sunderland's new manager, and the honest answer is that I genuinely don't really know.

I'd be lying if I said I was some kind of secret aficionado of lower league football, so I couldn't even begin to judge him on the merits of the job he did at Swindon. The statistics are certainly impressive, but without understanding the context in which they must be seen, they are little more than squiggles on a page.

There is a little excitement swoshing around, too. That much I definitely know, though I think that is just a natural reaction. New managers embody the potential for positive change, and that is something we are desperate to see.

But make no mistake about it - the prevalent feeling here is fear. Not so much due to the fact that we have appointed someone whose last job was in League One, however. Newcastle appointed Alan Pardew from the same level and it hasn't seemed to have done them any harm, and a lack of Premier League managerial experience hasn't appeared to hold back Mauricio Pochettino and Steve Clarke at all this season.

The problem is I just don't know what effect introducing Di Canio into the mix at Sunderland will produce. All I know is that it will almost certainly produce a reaction and we can't afford it to be a destructive one. It feels like a punt.

Like most, I've sat down over the last couple of years chuckling away at the footage of the Italian scrapping with his own players and ranting on about poor old 'league one' Wes Foderingham. I distinctly remember thinking to myself how brilliantly entertaining it would be to see his madcap mentality in the Premier League. I am still fascinated by how it is going to pan out.

But it was the kind of event that I wanted to watch from a safe distance. Like a spectacular explosion of a solar flare of something.

Where this one goes is anyone's guess right now. In appointing Di Canio, Sunderland's season may well have been saved or destroyed in one fell swoop. There is absolutely no way of knowing.

Still, perhaps that element of total unpredictability is a good thing. After all, it had become all too easy of late to predict Sunderland's impending demise.

Follow Michael on Twitter at @Capt_Fishpaste.

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