Tag Archives: Sunderland

Sunderland: Why Di Canio’s appointment is wrong

“I am a fascist, not a racist”.

Good for you Paulo.

Back in 2005, before Di Canio went on his very obvious public relations tour of the UK’s media, counteracting a spell at Lazio before taking on his first managerial position, Di Canio uttered the words that you can see above. He is not a racist, he hastily says, but merely a man who adores Mussolini, who allied with Hitler, who stripped the rights of the individual from his people, who helped plunge the world into war and led to the untimely and massively unfortunate deaths of millions in a fight to protect the freedoms of the people of Europe. So really, Paulo, you’re just openly supporting your dictators of this world, those who ruin the lives of those they rule over, not any genocides they may carry out. Good for you.

The problem in criticising managers of a staunch anti-individualist political bent is that they can often think about the collective, which is quite useful tactically. Di Canio’s politics are the same. Valery Lobanovsky was the generator of total football in Eastern Europe, and part of this can be credited to his staunch beliefs in Communism. His love of the collective, the need for the team to perform above the individuals, explains his successes. Di Canio’s lack of tolerance of players who have questioned him likely comes from the same segment of political thought, except on the other side of the political spectrum. After all, it has been said that the spectrum is more often a toilet. For this reason, Di Canio could quite easily find himself achieving.

Up front, I’m a left-leaning person who finds Labour far too central for my liking. I’m also Jewish, so it would be very odd to find me agreeing with anyone who idolises Mussolini. However, I have become increasingly convinced over the last few weeks that I would have been incredibly disappointed with Di Canio taking over at Leeds United. I saw it as too much of a risk to appoint him, not just for his political leaning, but also for what he has achieved and how he has achieved it. A step into the Premier League is even more of a risk.

Yes he took Swindon up, and guided them into a great position in League One. However, there was clause after clause in his contract that meant Swindon were obligated to bring in talent above and beyond their means. He left them in a financial lurch, on the cusp of administration if they hadn’t found new ownership.

He’s also known as a fire-brand, and people wanted to bring him in at Leeds due to the notion that he’d get the players motivated. I’ve become increasingly convinced that this isn’t enough anymore. Tactics are the name of the game, and it is imperative that a coach has both that and serviceable man management in his locker. Look at Villas-Boas, who was criticised for his lack of man management last season. The players at Spurs all love him now, and what did it take? A single move out of the Mourinho locker – sending texts out to players asking how they were doing, which Ibrahimovic said Jose did when he was at Inter, and Spurs players have hinted at. That is all that is needed this day – players have too much power to be harangued by someone shouting at them or taking them on trips to Cornwall, especially in the Premier League.

Di Canio is the wrong appointment politically, and I praise David Milliband for resigning and not taking the easy route of being political about it. He’s probably not going to be a massive improvement on O’Neill, who at one point could motivate players to run through brick walls for him, but was completely caught out tactically over and over in his time at Sunderland. Football requires more these days, and I’m not convinced Di Canio has it.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).

On This Day: 22nd August 2012


In a shocking moment that has rocked the world, Mark Hughes OBE has gone against grain and decided to use significant amounts of money from the pockets of a foreign tycoon to purchase players he has presumably only ever seen on Sky Sports. Eschewing the modern manager’s delusional willingness to scout players from places that aren’t directly available on a convenient box on a weekly basis, pointed out as being of a decent standard by a series of ex-professionals, most of whom have failed as managers, Hughes has instead chosen to rely on the understanding that if he’s repeatedly heard of a player, he’s probably good.

Hughes, famous for his ruthless scouting endeavours in last year’s capture of 2004’s Djibril Cisse, has reportedly reacted badly to the idea of his team losing 5-0 against Swansea, a team who had the gall to sign an attacking midfielder who has never even played in God’s own Premier League. The manager is delighted to finally be able to implement his defensive blueprint on a team that featured a mere four Mark Hughes signings out of a possible five in the backline.

And so it has come to this. Hughes has agreed a double deal for Michael Dawson and Ricardo Carvalho with their respective clubs, guaranteeing that the Queen’s Park Rangers would have probably been quite a decent side if they played in 2007, back when Carvalho wasn’t 34 and Michael Dawson was a prospect and not a possibly injured cast off from Chief Executive Technocrat Andres Villas-Boas’s revolutionary revolution at the Tottenham Hotspurs.


In another move that goes completely against the grain, Sunderland, purchasers of Titus Bramble, Wes Brown and John O’Shea, part of Steve Bruce’s attempts to assemble the world’s slowest defence, have decided to splurge a large load of fun-bucks at the feet of the nomadic Wolverhampton Wanderers in exchange for Steven Fletcher. Relegation’s Fletcher is set to be a key asset in Sunderland’s now presumed battle against relegation.

Neil Lennon has stated that Celtic’s European Tie is not over, despite the first leg victory over Helsingsborg. Showing the sort of ability to point out the obvious that will serve well in a one-team league, Lennon is planning to follow up his clarification that two-legged ties involve more than one match with a thesis that humans need to eat food, the sky is blue and that Andy Reid is slightly portly.

Danny Welbeck has agreed a new four-year deal at Old Trafford, during which time he will probably be loaned out to whichever former Ferguson charge gets a Premier League managerial post next. Welbeck, who said that “playing for [Endorsement] United is all I’ve ever wanted to do” has apparently been guaranteed at least four starts in the League Cup each season from 2014 onwards, after his club recruit another twenty-seven strikers ahead of him.

Chief Executive Technocrat Andres Villas Boas has proven the difference between him and football’s favourite son Harry “we all love him, honest” Redknapp by signing Emmanuel Adebayor, who returns to Spurs an entire three months after last playing for them.


Is Premier League experience really that valuable?


The domestic market is crazy. Liverpool fans know it, Chelsea fans know it, hell, everyone knows it. Inflated prices have been part and parcel of buying from divisional rivals for a hell of a long time. It’s old news, written about at length almost every time another transfer is made for yet another ridiculous fee.

Why bother writing about it then? I’m glad you asked. What has provoked this article, inquisitive reader, is in fact a transfer that hasn’t happened, at least not yet anyway. There’s no easy way to write this without it sounding ridiculous, so I’m just going to go ahead and say it: Wolves have turned down a £12million bid by Sunderland for Steven Fletcher. That’s right, £12milllion, deemed an insufficient amount of money by a Championship club. Apparently they value him closer to £15million. It almost goes without saying that Fletcher, while a decent player, is worth barely half of that. “Well, that’s fair enough I suppose, he’s their player and they don’t have to sell”, you might say, and of course you would be right, there’s no reason why Wolves should be forced to sell their best player for less than they feel he is worth. What makes the mind truly boggle is that Sunderland look like they’re prepared to go ahead and meet the asking price.

Fletcher has had his head turned by Sunderland, handing in a transfer request earlier this week

Why? The obvious reason is, of course, that Sunderland are a team that are woefully short of options up front. They need a striker, and, with less than one week to go until the start of the season, they need one now. What makes Fletcher so appealing is the fact that he has Premier League experience: the club know what they’re getting with him, there are no worries about settling in or adapting to the English game. A fair consideration when handing over so much money, but is it really enough to justify paying such an inflated fee? Is his Premier League experience really that valuable? Surely there are other options that could do a similar job for a lower price. Highly rated Venezuelan striker Jose Salomon Rondon recently moved from Malaga to Rubin for €13million, or about £10million. PSG will be looking to get rid of a number of players as a result of their recent attacking purchases, including Guillaume Hoarau, who was favoured over Kevin Gameiro towards the end of last season. He currently has a market value of €7million. He would, in my opinion, do just as good a job as Fletcher. Besides, the fact that you know what you’re getting with Fletcher can in fact be used as an argument against his signing. He has experience in the Premier League, but experience of what? Two relegations either side of a 17th place finish. Yes, it would be more of a risk to spend the money on someone untested in the league, but with greater risk comes greater reward should it pay off – with Fletcher you know you’re getting a man who’ll score you 10-15 goals a season, but a player untested in the league could potentially bag you even more. What recent seasons seem to demonstrate, moreover, is that Premier League experience does not even mean the move would be successful. It would make sense paying over the odds for a player if it meant a guarantee of success, but the likes of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and even Fernando Torres show that simply is not the case.

Look, I’ll be honest. I’m a Newcastle fan. Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than seeing a rival club pay way over the odds for a player who has done little to justify the fee, to be able to mock friends, classmates at uni, and even certain family members who support them. But, honestly, I hope they don’t sign him. It would take the already crazy domestic market and remove what little value there was left. If he flopped it would lead to the argument that “if Fletcher’s worth £15million then X is worth £20million”, and if he succeeded it would add weight to the notion that Premier League experience should make a player twice as expensive as they ordinarily would be. Perhaps I’m biased: the last high profile foreign signing my club made was Papiss Cisse, maybe I’d see the point of paying £6million more for a striker of less ability if my club had recently signed, for example, Asamoah Gyan. But honestly, I really can’t see the logic.