Paolo Di Canio and the Sunderland fiasco
Today’s Telegraph has published details of the dramatic departure of Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio and the player revolt that left his position untenable.
The Rome-born Di Canio clearly saw himself as a warrior-style leader in the Augustus mould, but the more we learn about his brief but tormented reign at the Stadium of Light, the Roman emperor that immediately to mind is Caligula.
Having angered many supporters with his provocative stance after the final whistle following Saturday’s dismal 3-0 defeat to West Brom, Di Canio marched into the away dressing room and launched into one of his by now trademark tirades at his players.
Former club captain Lee Cattermole, blamed by Di Canio for West Brom’s third goal, bore the brunt of the verbal assault,
Cattermole, who had come on as a substitute midway through the second half, asked why he was being picked out for blame for the defeat and was backed by team-mates.
Thereafter, according to one witness, all hell broke loose as several players went nose to nose with Di Canio and refused to back down when he challenged them.
The row was brought to a conclusion when one player remarked: “All you have done since you got here is criticise us and the old manager [Martin O’Neill]. The difference is we liked him and would run through walls for him. Nobody likes you here. Nobody wants you here.”
That row prompted a delegation of senior players to visit chief executive Margaret Byrne and director of football Roberto De Fanti on Sunday.
They accused Di Canio of behaving like a dictator and revealed he had lost the dressing room to such an extent that certain players were going to refuse to play for him again.
At that point, there was no way back for the Italian. And, unless his man management skills improve dramatically, there may never be a way back into football management for him.