The real scandal involving the appointment of Paolo Di Canio as Sunderland manager is not whether or not he is a fascist.
Nor was it the inquisition Signor Di Canio faced at the press conference this week by the liberal media led by the unhinged Dan Roan. One suspects that Mr. Roan is too lazy or uneducated to know that fascism, especially the Italian variant, originated from left wing politics. Benito Mussonlini, Signor Di Canio’s alleged hero, was a member of the Italian socialists and when in power, his policies appealed to those on both sides of the political divide. His economic policy of government control of business, his Keynesianism and the idea of” the big machine” chimes rather more with the collectivist big government, statist outlook of Mr. Roan’s employers, the B.B.C. than any dastardly right wing nutters that are prone to get the left leaning British media’s sustainable, fair trade knickers in a twist.
It wasn’t even that Di Canio was forced to return and abase himself in front of his media accusers and assure them of his bien pensant politically correct credentials that is outrageous; such is the price of being a public figure in dreary, hysterical, totalitarian Britain these days.
The real scandal is that a famous old club reportedly faces financial ruin if it does not garner enough points to avoid relegation in the remaining seven games of the season following years of mismanagement by it’s American billionaire owner, Ellis Short.
For most clubs in the Premiership, relegation should be considered an occupational hazard and steps should be taken to minimise the consequences of falling through the trap door leading from the promised land of the Premiership to the less lucrative Coca Cola Championship. Mr. Short has now decided the best way of avoiding this is to remove experienced manager Martin O’Neill and replace him with a relative novice in the highly combustible Di Canio.
Does Short really believe it is Martin O’Neill who is to blame for Sunderland’s current predicament or should he not look more closely at the the over paid and under performing players, few of whom will be willing to take the pay cuts and display the attitude required to stabilise the club, should they be relegated,and return them to the Premiership?
Does Di Canio have the composure required to lead a demoralised group of players through this vital part of the season , can Short be certain that the Italian’s infamous short fuse will not blow up in his face? Is Short , who made his money in private equity, even qualified to be making decisions that could well decide the immediate future of a venerable institution?
Di Canio is not without success in his short managerial career. He turned around previous club Swindon in occasionally manic circumstances , winning promotion to League One, before leaving amid typical chaos and acrimony. But can he keep his cool in the white hot intensity of a relegation battle, starting on Sunday against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge? He would not be the first person many Premiership chairman would think of when a safe pair of hands was required to steer their club out of the mire.
It could be that Di Canio emulates his compatriot Roberto Di Matteo; who revived Chelsea’s season around this time last year, but another late season appointment springs to mind; With eight games remaining of the 2008/9 season, Newcastle, Sunderland’s hated local rivals , turned to club legend Alan Shearer to save them from the plight that now faces the Wearsiders. With no managerial experience, Shearer was only able to muster one win as Magpies boss and his side were relegated.
The next seven weeks will prove whether Ellis Short’s gamble in replacing a tried and trusted manager with a combustible maverick is a stroke of genius or yet another misguided and reckless action by a billionaire egotist who scandalously treats his football club like a plaything.
We are told that Mr. Short also owns Skibo Castle in Scotland. If Sunderland fall, he might wish to beat a hasty retreat to the Highlands and raise the drawbridge !