Is Paulo Di Canio the Mario Balotelli of management?

Paolo Di Canio At Upton Park

Sunderland manager Paulo Di Canio has been handed an £8,000 fine by the Football Association for his misconduct in Saturday’s clash with Arsenal at the Stadium of Light.

The Italian boss was sent off the pitch, from the touchline technical area, and ordered to the stands by referee Martin Atkinson after the 45-year-old verbally harassed the official who disallowed three of the home side’s goals against the Gunners.

As a player, for West Ham, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic in England, as well as Juventus, Napoli, AC Milan, and Lazio in Serie A, Di Canio was infamous for his unruly antics – former Hammers boss Harry Redknapp has stories in abundance to tell of Di Canio’s refusal to play, his temper tantrums and, above all else, his exceptional talents.

The former attacking midfielder has been splashed across the back pages of the tabloids for most of his playing career and it looks as though the attention he receives will continue through his managerial career – as soon as he took the job at Sunderland, the press had a field day over his political beliefs; his allegiance to Italian ‘fascist’ principles and philosophy.

This led to the club’s vice-chairman Labour MP David Miliband’s resignation upon his appointment at the Stadium of Light.

Despite having only assumed the post with the Black Cats in March of this year, he has already made a number of controversial decisions and remarks with regard to the players he inherited from his predecessor Martin O’Neill, their professionalism and attitude.

Di Canio is, however, for some a welcome presence in English football and in the Premier League for his personality – he does add entertainment value to the league and, at the very least, his passion, character and often heightened emotional state is something we’ve missed since the departure of Mario Balotelli and Joey Barton from the league.

The public has an appetite for these oft ‘misunderstood’ characters – they have a dramatic value to the game as a spectacle. They are the pantomime villains we love to loathe and they make for an exciting viewing experience with their often irrational and erratic behavior.

It turns the Premier League into a soap opera or a telenovela – the archetypal (stereotypical) Italian male is brought to life in technicolour by Paulo Di Canio on the touchline in the form of a sideshow much in the same manner as his young compatriot Mario Balotelli did on the pitch.

Honestly, I’ve missed the drama – the British are so reserved and repressed sometimes and it’s a breath of fresh air to have Di Canio on the touchline for the 90 minutes traffic of our stage. It's the same reason I'm glad to have Ian Holloway back too, it makes your TV license and Sky Sports subscription seem like better value for money.

image: © Hilton Teper

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