PAOLO DI CANIO has enjoyed a mere seven games at the Sunderland helm.
But the Italian made an instant impression on both supporters and players with his wild antics on the touchline.
It wasn’t just Di Canio’s goal celebrations which caught the eye, even if he secured a place in Sunderland folklore with a slide along the turf during the 3-0 derby rout at St James’s Park.
Di Canio kicked every ball, wandered onto the pitch to shout instructions at his players and wildly rued any mistake.
But Sunderland supporters largely believe Di Canio’s antics are inspirational to his players.
More than two thirds of those polled in the Echo’s survey said Di Canio’s touchline behaviour was an inspiration, rather than confusing or angering his players.
Ron Peacock, from Harrogate, said: “If Paolo cannot inspire them, no one can. O’Neill and Bruce both looked as if the touchline was the last place they wanted to be.”
West Boldon’s Oliver Speck-Smith agreed, declaring: “I’m inspired just watching his interviews!”
A minority of fans believe that Di Canio’s antics either anger or confuse his players.
They included Phil Randle, from Boldon, who felt Di Canio’s behaviour could be confusing.
“Some will respond but the majority have got hearts the size of peas,” he said.
But almost a quarter want to see more substance than style and say Di Canio’s behaviour has no effect on the side.
Sunderland’s Tony Sullivan said: “Hopefully they are fully aware of the manager’s and the crowd’s expectations. I would imagine it will wind the opposition up more.
Gary Baker, from Pallion, added: “Professional footballers should be 110 per cent focused on the game, not what the manager is doing on the touchline. If he needs to get a message across there is no doubt you will hear it.
“His antics shouldn’t affect the performance.”