Paolo paves way for lower league bosses
I BELIEVE HEWILL SUCCEED AND HELP OTHERS MOVE UP
Iam sure I will not be the only lower League manager inspired to see a graduate of League Two move into a Premier League job.When Sunderland appointed Paolo di Canio this week, they again showed the value of doing good work lower down the ladder.
Of course, Paolo’s ‘box office’ personality will have played a part in his success, but he has backed up his talk by winning promotion for Swindon, graduating from League Two in the process and then pushing them on into League One’s top six.
One of my lads asked me how I thought he would do this week. I stuttered a little as I answered.
It has been a difficult beginning for him as he faced more questions about his political leanings than his football management abilities. And those difficulties could easily be a factor in what happens next.
The excellent book Soccernomics talks about there being three main reasons for appointing a manager:
1. Performance; 2. Re-incarnating a club’s eternal spirit; 3. Good public relations and ‘noise levels’.
Not enough appointments get made for performance reasons, the book says. Although, obviously, the best appointments can have a positive all-round impact.
When a big negative enters the fray at the very beginning, there is always a danger that the manager can suffer. Certainly, neither club nor manager would choose a negative first moment.
My feeling, though, despite this doubt, is that Paolo will succeed.
I spoke to Lee Holmes at Preston about Paolo from his time with him at Swindon. His feedback was based on the time that Paolo had invested with him out on the training ground in trying to help Lee to become a better technical footballer.
And the facts are that it is this, the hard work on the training ground, not the talk in the Press, that wins games. Paolo isn’t just a talker. He clearly does his stuff to earn the results that he gets. That is why I believe that Sunderland will survive by winning points in the coming weeks.
He has his way, and at the heart of that is clearly this strong work ethic. That is where I believe he needs to focus.
The other side of his method is his ability to distract opposition away from the game at hand with his opinions and beliefs.
When we played Swindon earlier in the season during my Preston days, Paolo built up to the game by talking about his team in terms of Barcelona.
They had beaten Stoke in the Capital One Cup and Paolo was making the most of it. I would like to think that we saw through his method as we won with a convincing 4-1 victory.
At Premier League level, I do not see him being able to create the same psychological impact that perhaps he enjoyed lower down. I see him needing to focus much more on his technical and tactical skills.
I hope he succeeds because the more graduates the lower leagues get, the more opportunity follows for other successful managers and players in the future.
That can only be good for fuelling aspiration in the game.
BOX OFFICE: Paolo Di Canio signs in at Sunderland