Di Canio delivers expected drama

by Adam Lord

One thing was certain when Paolo Di Canio became manager of Swindon Town, things weren’t going to be dull at the County Ground.

And after a fairly regulation first few weeks in the job, in which the West Ham United legend rebuilt a squad relegated from League 1 last season, it seemed as if Di Canio was a changed man.

However things soon took a turn for the expected.

After the Robins’ 3-1  defeat at home to Southampton in the Carling Cup. Di Canio got into a heated altercation with his own striker Leon Clarke.

Clarke, who had joined the club less than two weeks before the incident from Queens Park Rangers, rowed with Town fitness coach Claudio Donatelli before his manager stepped in and told him to make his way to the dressing room, where the incident could be dealt with behind closed doors.

A pushing match between manager and striker then ensued, which continued in the tunnel in full view of television cameras.

Not surprisingly, it was announced the following day by Swindon chairman Jeremy Wray that Clarke would leave the club when the loan window opened on September 7.

In an interview a few days after, Di Canio revealed he had discovered that the striker had asked to leave the club a couple of days before the incident, insisting the former Sheffield Wednesday would never play for the club again.

It was impressively swift action from Wray ,who just short of a week following the incident seems to have been fully vindicated in backing his new manager.

Before Saturday’s game at home to high-flying Rotherham Swindon had not won in the league since their 3-0 opening day victory over Crewe and had lost their last four League 2 games.

Following on from midweek events it was probably not the kind of game Robins’ fans wanted.

The result? A dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 win, with two goals coming from substitute Alan Connell, who came on with 20 minutes to go in what was an inspired move by Di Canio, who celebrated both the former Grimsby man’s goals with typical gusto.

Most predicted this was a boom or bust appointment. Di Canio would either be lifting the League 2 Championship trophy in May or be  looking for another job inside three months.

After four defeats and a spectacular bust up with one of his own players most predicted it would be the latter, but maybe, just maybe, this will be the start of something big at the County Ground.

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