sabato 6 aprile 2013

Can Sunderland jump out of the relegation zone under new manager Paolo Di Canio?

A controversial character, Paolo Di Canio became the Sunderland owner Ellis Short's choice to replace the sacked Martin O'Neill. He parted ways with the team despite a 29 per cent success rate. Only Peter Reid was better among previous Sunderland’s EPL managers. But this wasn’t enough to safe O’Neill.

O’Neill paid a recruitment campaign that brought on Steven Fletcher from Wolverhampton Wanderers for £12m and added other £10m to buy former Manchester City’s Adam Johnson. While Fletcher experiment worked until an ankle injury  ended his season prematurely, Johnson has been a mess into O'Neill's 4-4-1-1, while two further summer signings, Louis Saha and James McFadden, was quickly released. Despite that and despite the fact he spent a large amount of cash since he bought the club, owner Ellis Short let O’Neill spend other £14m in January, adding Turkey's Bursaspor  21-year-old defensive midfielder  Alfred N'Diaye, and Swansea City forward Danny Graham. New faces in but O'Neill’s  gameplan was the same on the field: it was designated around to sit deep and play on the break concept but Sunderland never produced following this tactics, with the team that failed to get points and produce shots on target, dropping to a point out the bottom three. A former popular appointment, at a certain point it seemed that former Leicester City, Celtic and Aston Villa manager had lost his touch. Also, O'Neill declaration that his squad lacks "true quality" doesn’t help him. So, Sunderland turned to Paolo Di Canio. Well known for his political thoughts, the 44-year-old former Swindon Town manager was appointed on a two-and-a-half-year deal. Di Canio’s mission is tough with Sunderland one point above the relegation zone and with no win in the last eight matches in which they landed only three points. Can Di Canio avoid relegation? Hard to predict. At Swindon, Paolo Di Canio kept to a 4-4-2 looking for for short passes. They faced some troubles when opponents pressured up top. For sure, this appointment is above tactics. With few games at the end of the season, is hard to fix things quickly. Di Canio’s first point on his to-do list will be to distill enthusiasm and hope to a downhearted team that also lost its captain Lee Cattermole for the remainder of the season. He needs that everyone sticks together. The remaining schedule doesn’t help as Sunderland will face Everton, Stoke City and Southampton at home while will be host by Chelsea, Newcastle, Aston Villa, and Tottenham. Di Canio hasn’t EPL managerial experience but came from an impressive stint with Swindon Town. Appointed in May 2011, he lead the team up into the third flight the following season and put them in contention to a second consecutive promotion before to quit due to clashes with the team’s ownership. At Sunderland, Di Canio will face a big amount of problems as the team’s defence is weak and the attack never flourished. He’s a tough guy: this season, he fixed a hard training regime at Swindon, built around big fitness work, and weight training sessions. Now, he will have to deal with EPL players and will have to do it soon quickly: are seven games enough to do it? We will see…

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