Di Canio challenged players to demand his sacking, and they called his bluff: The Daily Mail reports that Paolo Di Canio was axed as Sunderland manager following a furious row with his own players after yet another abject defeat at the weekend. "A clutch of his players, however, are understood to have responded angrily at Di Canio’s dressing down, telling the Italian in no uncertain terms what they thought of him. It is believed certain players told the manager, who signed 14 players during the summer transfer window, they did not like him and did not want to play for him," the paper reports. "Di Canio is then said to have told his disgruntled players to tell the club’s hierarchy to sack him if they no longer wanted him in charge. Sportsmail understands details of the stand-off were quickly relayed back to Ellis Short, who has taken the decision to axe the manager after just six months in charge."
Paper Round's view: If it was anyone else we were talking about, such a sequence of events would be too fantastical to be true. Considering it's Di Canio we're talking about, it seems eminently plausible.
Di Canio banned players from talking to club staff on match days: The Italian came up with a crackpot theory, the Mail reports: "Despite the usual smattering of applause among the hundreds who gather at half-past-one to greet their heroes [as they turned up at the stadium for a match], few players looked up to acknowledge them. As for the staff, many of whom have been employed by the club for decades, they blanked them completely. It didn’t add up. Not at Sunderland. But it was what Di Canio wanted. In fact, he insisted on it. And so players, already accused of being aloof and overpaid, were encouraged not to interact with club staff, who, in turn, genuinely feared the sack. On match days that meant no handshakes, chit-chat or even eye contact, in the bizarre theory that it would affect the players’ concentration."
Paper Round's view: Losing your job is one thing, but these are the sorts of stories that could see Di Canio lose his career as a football manager. It could take a long time for somebody to trust him again.
Moyes gives hairdryer treatment to players: Alex Ferguson may have left, but his most famous motivational tactic lives on at Manchester United according to the Daily Mirror, which reports that, "David Moyes tore into his Manchester United flops after their derby day humiliation. United slumped to an embarrassing defeat to local rivals City and afterwards Moyes gave his players a blast of former boss Sir Alex Ferguson’s infamous ‘hairdryer’ treatment… Moyes was in no mood to spare his under-performing United players from his anger after revealing he told them their abject display was unacceptable and that he wants a reaction."
Paper Round's view: The inevitable has happened. Angry manager rightly gives underperforming players a shouting at, and because he works where Alex Ferguson used to it's dubbed a 'hairdryer'. There's no actual suggestion that Moyes did the proper hairdryer - i.e. shouting so close in someone's face that their hair flies out on end - on any of his stars after Sunday's match.
Di Matteo, Lennon, Poyet, McClaren and Pulis all in line for Sunderland: The lateness of Di Canio's sacking means there isn't much speculation in the papers about his replacement. The Daily Star shortlists Champions League winner Roberto Di Matteo, ex-Stoke boss Tony Pulis, former Brighton manager Gus Poyet (though that seems unlikely, considering the circumstances in which he left Brighton), and former England coach Steve McClaren. They also suggest Ally McCoist - albeit only on the basis that he once played for Sunderland - while the Daily Mail adds the much more likely name of Celtic boss Neil Lennon, whose Champions League exploits with the Hoops have won him huge praise.
Paper Round's view: Di Matteo is probably the best candidate, but seems more likely to wait for a better job. At this rate, there could yet be a vacancy in the Manchester region coming up soon…
- Sports & Recreation
- Di Canio