Paulo Di Danio’s appointment as manager of Sunderland came a surprise to virtually everyone in the game.
The former Swindon boss has no managerial experience in the Premier League or generally anywhere at the top level and he took charge of his first game on Sunday at one of the toughest places to go to in the country – Stamford Bridge where he met with a Chelsea side under interim manager Rafael Benitez with everything to lose.
However, the recent controversy in the media surrounding the Italian’s ‘fascist’ beliefs seemed to neither help nor hinder his team’s performance on the day. Sunderland took an early lead via Cesar Azpilicueta own goal on the stroke of half-time.
The Blues eventually came back to equalize through an unfortunate Matthew Kilgallon deflection, awarded as another own goal, this time against the visitors before Branislav Ivanovic scored the home side’s winner ten minutes after the break.
Di Canio stood on the touchline, animated in his technical area throughout most of the game. Having made such an entrance at Sunderland, that was to be expected – he earned himself a reputation as a little less than a shrinking violet throughout his playing career.
What exactly do his ‘fascist’ beliefs have to do with his managing a football club? David Miliband, Labour MP for South Shields resigned from his post as Sunderland FC vice-chairman because he didn’t want to be associated with Fascism.
That is, I suppose, understandable, but what kind of message does that send to the club and it’s supporters – they are not going to resign themselves from the club they’ve supported for donkeys years just because the new gaffer has beliefs that differ to their.
We’re talking about politics but, more than that, we’re talking about opinions – Di Canio is not a political leader and he is therefore not representing anyone but himself and, now, Sunderland FC.
I don’t personally agree with Di Canio’s views but I do disagree with people who have asserted he shouldn’t have the right to express them.
It seems ironic and hypocritical that people who are banging the drum for Democracy are simultaneously arguing to effectively outlaw freedom of speech and the individual’s right to their own opinion.
Di Canio should be aloud to think and say what he wants in private – in public he must be aware he represents Sunderland. As long as he maintains a line that differentiates between the two, I can’t see how his personal opinion is anyone else’s business.
Whether he is capable of drawing that line remains to be seen but he shouldn’t be denied the chance.
image: © infollatus