Being a West Ham fan, I have witnessed many great and not so great players over the years. By far the most iconic to have graced the Upton Park turf in recent years has to be the flamboyant Italian, Paolo Di Canio. His famous goals against Manchester United in the FA Cup and Wimbledon in the league are testament to the skills he possessed as a player. Also, voiced by the majority of West Ham fans, his loyalty to the club in times of struggle and his decision to stay with us when bigger clubs were calling will never be forgotten.
His love for the game and the club itself shone through in his 118 appearances for the Irons and it was inevitable that he was to become the highly rated young club manager he is today. Di Canio may divide opinion amongst football professionals and enthusiasts alike, however, in my opinion; he is a breath of fresh air to the managerial scene, a new breed of manager, for the ever evolving game.
Di Canio was appointed manager of Swindon Town, following the club’s relegation to League Two in the summer of 2011. Seen by many as not a glamorous post for the popular Italian, it should be admired that Di Canio has decided to begin his career as manager with Swindon Town and prove himself in the lower leagues. This was proven in his first season at the club, achieving automatic promotion to League one as champions.
It is clear that to this day, Di Canio still revels in the limelight and he can often be found in altercations with his own players or the media. This shouldn’t be frowned upon as he wouldn’t be the same without them. His playing career was dogged by incidents such as the ‘Alcock affair’ which resulted in an eleven match ban for the Sheffield Wednesday player. Also the West Ham Vs. Bradford City game, which is further evidence of how his passion could sometimes boil over which resulted in Di Canio snatching the ball from ex Hammer Frank Lampard, who had already set it on the spot, and demanded to take it himself (thankfully it went in)
These moments of madness are missed on the terraces of Upton Park and it isn’t rare for many supporters either at the game, the pub, or on the trains to speak of the Italian’s magic on the pitch. I for one would be delighted to see him in the hot seat in the near future at my beloved club, an opinion voiced by many at the club.
So what next for the fury Italian? Many have compared his style of management to the legend ‘Brian Clough’ and Jose Mourinho and there is some truth in these claims. Like Clough and Mourinho, Di Canio is hugely egotistical and I strongly believe that Di Canio thinks he can take Swindon Town to the big time. Whether this is possible only time will tell, however, what cannot be denied is Di Canio’s love for the game and his will to win. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But this is what the game needs, another strong, young manager.
I wish Di Canio well, a true character of the game that undoubtedly will have future success as a manager (hopefully with West Ham) and if not in a manager’s capacity, he still would get into our starting eleven even at the age of 44! A rare talent and an individual who will continue to divide opinion, is Di Canio to be loved or hated?