Short’s Gamble Galvanises Spirits, But Is It Enough?
As Martin O'Neill's once-bright light began to flicker out, the feeling among many on Wearside remained one of “well we’ll probably have just enough”. However, we were all still very much looking over our shoulders.
April 8th, 2013
Things couldn’t be more different now. O’Neill has gone.
Ellis Short moved swiftly to replace him, bringing in Paolo Di Canio; a man with limited experience – limited further by it being in a short spell with Swindon Town in Leagues One and Two.
Following the inevitable defeat to Manchester United, it was made clear that Short had lost all faith in his former manager. It seems difficult to believe that despite another stumbling but “try-hard” defeat against a far superior team would confirm Short’s worries, and this move must have been planned for a while.
In one way, the arrival of Di Canio makes sense. He is, undoubtedly, a passionate character, one with a driven intensity and almost relentless thirst for victory. At Swindon Town he made plenty of enemies, but also got his side promoted at the first time of asking. In addition, the availability of not just the Italian but also his entire backroom staff ensured that a fresh start could be made immediately. By Monday morning, not even two days since the United game, Sunderland’s squad were under the stead of an entirely new band of men.
Short has risked everything on this gamble. Many believe we were going down anyway. I can see that, and partly believe that we were sleepwalking to relegation; now we have a chance to at least go down fighting. That’s one thing that Di Canio certainly brings, with his managerial nous still to be proven.
That is not to say that Di Canio is not deserving of full backing, however. Those that feel they can no longer support the club under his control are entitled to do so, but those that remain now throw their full weight behind the Italian – and boy have we.
In a matter of days there’s been a galvanised spirit among those who have chosen to stick by our new manager. Everyone has been so quick to pick him apart – be it for his political beliefs or his experience – and it seems to have filtered through to the fans in the main that there’s an “us against them” mentality. Okay, so the media in large and fans of many other teams are against us? We’ll prove them wrong.
If Di Canio can pick up between 6 to 9 points in the next few games, he will go some way to justifying his appointment. Games against Aston Villa, Stoke City and Southampton could well see us pick up those points.
Getting them would almost guarantee Premier League survival. But Ellis Short – a normally shrewd operator – has taken an almighty gamble on that happening; but we’re banded together and as one for the first time in a while.
The fact remains though that it’s a gamble which has to pay off first.