So it has happened; Paolo Di Canio looks like single-handedly dragging Sunderland FC out of the relegation dogfight after leading the Black Cats to an outstanding 3-0 victory over their North East rivals Newcastle United in the Tyne-Wear derby.
Forget the fascism arguments, political outlook, previous controversial moments like publicly lambasting his players, pushing Paul Alcock in 1998 or that Imperial Leather advert he did:
Scusi indeed Paolo!
Goals courtesy of Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and David Vaughan gave them the bragging rights at St James Park but the story of the day was of course the mercurial Italian.
Joey Barton could count himself as another player perhaps known for courting controversy throughout his career and he summed up the atmosphere at St James perfectly…
Great finish. Di Canio's celebration was better than the goal scorers. Great to see a manager with that passion even if it is 5under1and one— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) April 14, 2013
Script was written for Di Canio. How can a a manager with that passion not inspire his players. Newcastle's season unraveling...— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) April 14, 2013
There is absolutely no way you can envisage Sunderland going down this season now after Di Canio’s appointment.
His Mourinho like slide down the touchline was a privileged rarity and you can already see that the players at Sunderland already have a huge affinity for their new boss.
But everybody might just want to calm down slightly.
While the appointment of Di Canio is perfect for their current position on a long term basis we are yet to see what he can do at this level.
Under Martin O’Neill the players seemed alienated from their boss; switched off and heading toward relegation without as much as a whimper of defiance. Against Newcastle they looked like a completely different outfit.
Di Canio appears to have them absolutely brimming with confidence and adrenalin to the point of near explosion and to be frank we should not be surprised considering the Italian’s personality.
That is exactly what was needed at the club for their current battle and while it remains to be seen whether that will prove beneficial in the long-term remains to be seen.
As a neutral we shouldn’t care regardless. We should just sit back and enjoy the Di Canio show.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald