Paolo Di Canio and the season he can only blame himself

How will the Sunderland manager cope in his first full season in charge?

When Paolo Di Canio arrived at the Stadium of Light back in March, he was quick to stamp his authority on the club and call out those players he felt were not pulling their weight.

When the season ended, he swiftly set about building his own squad, and Sunderland go into the new campaign with a vastly different side to the one that flirted with relegation.

With 10 new signings to date, and more likely to follow, if it all goes wrong this time the animated Italian will have no one to blame but himself.

I like Di Canio a lot. Not only because he gives the air of being one of the boys, joining in touchline bundles and speaking his mind, but because he understands the role of a manager. He knows that the best are, first and foremost, motivators.

He may have a funny way of showing it sometimes, but there is no doubt Di Canio can motivate. He can also anger and isolate but that is in his character. He cares, and his frustration is sparked when others appear not to.

After the small but necessary additions former boss Martin O’Neill made last summer, Di Canio has reverted to the transfer tactic of previous bosses Steve Bruce and Roy Keane. That is to say: New season = Wholesale changes.

It was less than successful then, but fans will hope this time is different. He has certainly brought in the men without breaking the bank.

Within his considerable recruitment drive Di Canio has undoubtedly bagged a bargain or two. It is whether or not those players settle swiftly into the Premier League.

Di Canio signed up to a win-win situation. And in hindsight, his style was always likely to motivate enough players to achieve enough points to save the day.

But now he must show he can manage a top flight team from day one; that he is more than just a fire-fighter.

He can expect no second honeymoon, just expectation.

That he has such high expectations of himself and his players should see him through just fine. At least he will hope so.

image: © infollatus

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