PAOLO Di Canio has been a success in his brief reign at Sunderland so far say fans.
But it is a qualified success, according to supporters taking part in the Echo Survey 2013, who understand that the real test of his managerial credentials lies ahead.
In his seven games in charge at the tail end of last season, he kept Sunderland up, he made waves, attracted banner headlines, (good and bad), oversaw the best derby victory in a generation and was also in the dugout in the club’s heaviest defeat of the campaign.
His efforts though have made him popular with fans and he has their goodwill and support going into the new season.
Asked: “How would you rate Paolo Di Canio so far out of 10?” only a handful marked him below five out of 10.
The most popular answer by some distance was seven out of 10, followed by eight out of 10 and then six out of 10.
But more than 10 per cent of fans gave him either a nine, or a 10 out of 10.
Among those who thought he deserved full marks were Derek Shields, of Sunderland who simply said: “He fulfilled his brief, which was making sure Sunderland stayed up.”
Phil Watson of Sunderland said: “With what he had available he kept us up and gave us the fantastic victory at St James’s Park.
“What else could we have asked for under the circumstances?”
While Nick Stewart, of Faversham in Kent said: “With the depleted squad he had, to keep us up was unreal. First Class.
“He is also changing the mentality at SAFC.
“I hope he will be supported by all the staff and SAFC supporters for what he is attempting to do at the club.”
Those were in the majority in our voting though were more qualified in their praise.
Typical was Michael Dunne of Sunderland who said: “Showed good signs and some bad ones – but he saved us.”
“To get us winning again was a massive achievement,” said Tom Walsh of the Boulevard, Leeds. “But he now faces a hugely important summer to shift the deadwood and bring in some of his own players.”
John Scott, of Sunniside, Newcastle, said: “He is a great motivational manager and got some important results.
“But he has looked tactically inept at times and Aston Villa away was an embarrassment.”
Brian Hodder of Whitley Bay, said: “He is a breath of fresh air in many ways.
“The victory at St James Park quelled the furore over his political views but whether his attack on his players was a good idea, I’m not sure.”
Matthew Barratt of Auckland, New Zealand said: “It would be an eight or a nine but while I agree discipline is needed, I feel that publicly criticising your players is not the best way to handle the situation.”
That was a sentiment more succinctly put by Nicky King of Peterlee who said: “He needs to chill.....a tiny bit.”
Overall, the response from readers was very favourable and Di Canio can be confident when he starts the season that he has the full support of Sunderland fans.
David Walsh of Lombard Drive, Chester-le-Street, said: “I honestly thought we were doomed for the drop before he took over and he has worked wonders to keep us up. “The big challenge is whether he can do it over the course of a full season and not just work on adrenaline.
“I’m sure he will be backed in the summer and the fans are behind him too.”
Bruce Middleton of Carrville in Durham said: “He has been very good so far although, by his own admission, not good enough for him.
“There’s nothing the matter with that vein of though – it bodes well for the future.”
While Wayne Wright of Southwick, Sunderland said: “He did what he was appointed to do and as well as getting everyone in the city excited, we beat the scum!
“He’s a legend already.”