SUNDERLAND would have been relegated last season if Paolo Di Canio had been allowed to stay in charge said an overwhelming majority of fans in the Echo’s annual survey.
Asked the straightforward question – would Sunderland have stayed up had he remained? – the answer came in the affirmative by a margin of 15 to one.
That margin in itself – after only a dozen league games at the helm – was a sign of how little faith supporters had in the Italian by the time he strutted in front of the away supporters after a heavy defeat at The Hawthorns in September.
Asked what was his biggest shortcoming as a boss, the answer “man-management” was way out in front, scoring more than three times as many votes as any other option.
Di Canio’s character itself polled almost twice as many votes as any other remaining option with fans giving the thumbs-down to the former Swindon boss’s personality and overall approach.
Interestingly, fewer than 10 per cent of fans regarded his signings as his biggest shortcoming.
The disastrous transfer window helped heap pressure on Di Canio from the start, but fans thought the problems lay deeper and even closer to home for the Italian.
Arguably most interesting of all was that so few fans – barely one per cent – cited Di Canio’s brand of football and the football played generally under him as a shortcoming.
The Italian was interested in all-out attack, a with a view to having four attackers on the pitch at any one time.
It failed to work as Sunderland struggled to score goals and struggled to keep a clean sheet.
But it emphasised that Black Cats’ fans had no problem with the Italian’s open, attacking style of football – just with its effectiveness.