Rowell Report: Di Canio must find a way to breathe new life into flagging players

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
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PAOLO Di Canio’s appointment was swift, as it had to be, following the departure of Martin O’Neill.

It is one of those appointments you feel is either inspired or will end in tears.

Paolo seems to be one of those characters where there is no middle ground and I don’t think life at the Stadium of Light will be dull with him around.

There’s no doubt this is a gamble and he needs to hit the ground running, as the one thing he doesn’t have is time.

Seven games left now and he needs to lift a dressing room low on confidence and currently with a losing mentality.

The future of our club is now in the hands of a man inexperienced in management at this level but I don’t think that will faze him as confidence and passion doesn’t appear to be something he lacks.

Ironically, that could be one of his biggest challenges – instilling belief and fight into players low on those very qualities.

Everyone knows he was a maverick as a player, not always in tune with the rest of his team-mates.

But maybe that’s just what Sunderland need at the moment, somebody unpredictable and willing to take a chance.

I don’t see Di Canio taking the safe option, or being cautious.

It’s death or glory now, not a time to be half-hearted or indecisive and he just might turn out to be the right man at the right time.

H In amongst all the managerial upheaval, we’ve tended to forget there was a game on at the weekend!

Saturday’s game against Man United was like so many Sunderland performances I’ve seen this season.

We never got going at all in the first half with United dominating possession but we did improve second half and at least showed some fight as we tried to take the game to the Champions elect.

The bare facts would say that just a deflected goal separated the two teams but I think we all know United won more comfortably than that, as they have the ability to win games like Saturday’s without having to be at full throttle.

This was always a game where anything we got was going to be a bonus and I think a lot of people thought the defeat might have been heavier.

For me, I was more disappointed with the last home game against Norwich where we actually gained a point. That was a game where we threw away two points.

Defeat against the best team in the country is not the result that will get us relegated but games like the Norwich one are and there have been far too many of those this season.

To read the rest of the Rowell Report, please see tonight’s Sunderland Echo.