Paolo paves way for lower league bosses


The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -

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.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

BOX OF­FICE: Paolo Di Canio signs in at Sun­der­land

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