GRAEME ANDERSON and CHRIS YOUNG look back on Sunderland’s incredible season.
WAS PAOLO DI CANIO SACKED AT THE RIGHT TIME?
Those who weren’t there at The Hawthorns could never truly grasp the sheer embarrassment of Di Canio standing in front of Sunderland fans after one point taken from 18, posing in front of them and giving them the chin-up gesture.
He thought he was Caesar rallying the legions when in fact he looked more like a Christian throwing himself to the lions – either way, he had pretty much lost the fans.
After a delegation of senior players approach the club the day after, it was utterly obvious he had lost the players.
Having kept Sunderland up, you couldn’t really have sacked him in the summer. Should he have been given longer? Nope.
There’s nowhere to go when you’re losing games and you’ve completely lost the players too.
CY: There was little choice after the dressing room rebellion against him.
Sunderland could have told the delegation of players who approached the board about Di Canio that they stood fully behind the Italian.
But allowing the poisonous atmosphere to fester wasn’t genuinely a viable option.
Neither was there any evidence on the field that Di Canio had what was needed. Sunderland were frighteningly open and a sorry tally of a solitary point was not through ill-fortune.
It was always going to be kill or cure under Di Canio and, after the initial impact, it proved to be the former.
WHAT DID THE DI CANIO SACKING SAY ABOUT ELLIS SHORT?
CY: The most telling aspect of the whole process was that Short waited a fortnight before appointing a successor.
Short realises he has made a series of mistakes since taking the Sunderland reins. But he took his time in performing due diligence on the replacement for Di Canio, fully aware of the magnitude of his decision.
Thankfully, he made the right one.
GA: That he still has a lot to learn but that he is prepared to learn by his mistakes
Di Canio, like Director of Football Roberto De Fanti, were both appointments that the American chairman made entirely by himself. And events show he could hardly have got both more wrong.
But he disposed of one swiftly and ruthlessly – as he needed to; and sacked the other soon after.
I think he learned a lot from it though and sought far more advice before appointing Poyet. I also thought he deserved a lot of credit too for publicly acknowledging he got it wrong in appointing Di Canio in the first place – very few chairman would have done that and the fact that he did, went down well.
H Part 2 in tomorrow’s Echo