Always ready to say what he thinks, Paolo DiCanio is once again in hot water with the FA. Is his controversial style really suited to League Two?
Having just seen his Swindon side succumb to a 2-0 defeat to Macclesfield, an angry Paolo DiCanio berated the decisions made in the game and openly advised his players to dive in the future, even if it means risking a yellow card. Not one to shy away from speaking his mind, DiCanio has already been involved in a verbal and physical altercation with Swindon striker Leon Clarke this season, who has since left the club on loan.
It seems he has endeared himself quickly to the Swindon players, who as a unit have collectively voiced their appreciation of his tactics, and there are many fans who have been won over by his honest, outlandish style of management. And yet, with the controversy and negative press that comes as part of the DiCanio package, there are those who believe that he should perhaps be plying his trade in an environment more suited to his media games.
League Two is, for the vast majority of clubs, an extremely difficult league to get to grips with. Relegation from League One inevitably sees attendances fall and players leave, and the resulting financial shifts can be tough to handle. It is natural for sponsors to move on and look for wealthier associates, which is why those clubs that can hang on to their more prestigious sponsors are likely to have more to spend on transfers and developing their academies. Swindon would have benefited greatly from retaining their sponsors, the GMB Union, who had promised an increase in revenues. Unfortunately, DiCanio's appointment put paid to this, due to his self-proclamation as a fascista, and his long-standing association with far-right politics, something the GMB could obviously not support.
Whilst DiCanio was still able to bring in practically a brand new First Eleven, he only paid for one of them, that being Alan Connell from Grimsby Town. Speculation was rife amongst Town supporters during the transfer window that, had a different manager been in place, the GMB would have delivered the promised revenues and the club would have been able to buy players from the slightly higher echelons of football, able to deliver an immediate return to League One. Instead, the team has had some issues in generating results, especially away from home, and find themselves only mid-table.
Another issue with DiCanio's willingness to cause a stir is that there will be repercussions throughout the squad. Whilst so far they have thrown their backing behind him, the fiery Italian has already come to blows with one of his strikers and labelled the rest of them 'chiuahahas'. Premier League squads have the experience and the support around them to be able to handle the mind games eminating from the Fergusons and Mourinhos above them, and to cope with the effects they can have upon the club. League Two players are, by their very nature, in need of more togetherness because they will for the most part lack the skills and flair of their more illustrious counterparts; they rely on a tight-knit club to build up momentum. All may be rosy between the squad and the manager at The County Ground at the moment, but if DiCanio continues to cause ripples then sooner or later he will alienate himself from too many of the players he is attempting to manage.
So where would Mr. DiCanio be better suited? After all, he has no managerial experience, and it is true that starting off at a smaller club is the sensible choice for anyone aspiring to become a world-beater. But why Swindon? Ok, there was a vacant role and it is in English football, so he may be hoping for rapid progression into the Premier League, which as we all know is the best in the world. But for a man who has always loved being centre of attention, surely London would have been the best place to set up camp? Brentford would have been a possibility, but even then it's still a League One club and his suitability at such a level would have remained questionable.
The answer, it seems, should have been obvious. DiCanio should have spent the early years of his managerial career in Italy, starting in the lower leagues and working his way up to a point whereby he could make the transition into English football to at least Championship level, if not Premier League. That way, he could deal with players in his own language, although his grasp of English is fairly strong, discover his tactical style and, in a country used to media pressure and controversy throughout its league system, he would have been in his element.
I hope I am wrong; certainly, many Swindon fans will disagree with me at this moment in time. But, at this rate I can see DiCanio alienating himself from the club as so many managers have done before him, leaving them in a fight for survival. I would urge DiCanio to either calm down or return to English football at a later date ready to take on Sir Alex and Arsene on the pitch and in the media. What genuine football fan wouldn't want to see that?