In my season preview I feared Paolo Di Canio’s management style could easily backfire on Sunderland and that’s what I believe is happening to his Sunderland side now.
Bottom of the Premier League after four games and I’m not buying into any excuses the Black Cats feel they have for losing at home to Arsenal on Saturday.
The previous weekend they were beat 3-1 at Crystal Palace, albeit with the sending off of John O’Shea. To me, the defence looks terrible and they’re not a great threat going forward either. That is a recipe for relegation.
I’ve never played football professionally myself, far from Premier League standard. But I believe there are two easy ways to lose the dressing room. One is by losing and the second is by aggravating your players. I believe Paolo Di Canio has done both.
His strict policies won’t and have not gone down with the multimillion £ dressing room.
I hear many football fans saying he needs more time and that he did well at Swindon. I cannot judge his Swindon team as I never saw them – but just like Paul Ince, Billy Davies, Alan Shearer and others that have come before him, some just don’t make that step up (at least not in their first attempt).
Sunderland’s team are in a real mess at the moment – 14 new signings were brought in over the summer – 4 of those the same nationality of the manager. A further 13 left, including Simon Mignolet, James McClean, Stéphane Sessègnon, Titus Bramble, Alfred N’Diaye, Danny Graham, Matthew Kilgallon and Ahmed Elmohamady who all featured for the team last season in various roles.
The loss of a top goalkeeper in Mignolet is a big loss in my opinion. Pressure on Keiren Westwood’s shoulders who has already conceded 8 goals in his first 4 league games this season.
Martin O’Neill tightened the Sunderland defence when he first took charge but the Black Cats have now shipped 17 goals in their last 8 league matches under Di Canio after his back-to-back clean sheets in April, which were his only 2 victories.
Yes, Paolo Di Canio has won just 2 of his 11 games in charge and it’s just 2 in 19 for Sunderland in all. 2 wins in half a season is a big concern. One of those victories came courtesy of Stéphane Sessègnon’s deflected effort against Everton, but the other, a 3-0 thrashing of Newcastle at St James’ Park made the Italian an instant hero in only his second game in charge.
Since then this Sunderland defence has struggled to defend and that is evident by the goals they are conceding.
They travel to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday; the only other side apart from Sunderland who have yet to win. The Baggies waited until stoppage time last weekend to score their first league goal of the season in a 1-1 draw at Fulham. Perhaps that is the confidence Steve Clarke’s side need to build upon. Or perhaps Paolo Di Canio’s side can get a result away from home?
Sunderland’s only point this season came in a 1-1 draw at Southampton in which Emanuele Giaccherini opened the scoring inside 4 minutes following some bad defending. José Fonte prevented Di Canio’s side winning 2 minutes from time.
How long does Paolo Di Canio have left in charge of Sunderland? Or do you think they can win at West Brom to kickstart their season?