Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Di Canio Asked to Rescue the Cats; Italian Appointed Cats Head Coach

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Di Canio Asked to Rescue the Cats; Italian Appointed Cats Head Coach

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner ? (0191) 201-6283 ?

ELLIS Short last night took the biggest gamble of his four years as Sunderland chairman by appointing Paolo di Canio as the club's new head coach.

The controversial Italian last night held talks about taking charge of a Premier League club for the first time and will be formally unveiled today on a two-and-ahalf-year contract.

However, the move resulted in vicechairman and non-executive director David Miliband resigning due to Di Canio's "past political statements".

Short moved quickly to appoint the ex-West Ham and Celtic star after surprisingly sacking Martin O'Neill on Saturday. Di Canio now has just seven games to save the Wearsiders from relegation.

After a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United and Wigan Athletic's 1-0 win over Norwich City, Sunderland are a point above the Premier League relegation zone.

Di Canio's only previous job in management was with Swindon, winning League Two last season before walking out on the Wiltshire club in February when a proposed buyout of the club was not forthcoming and winger Matt Ritchie was sold without his knowledge.

The fiery Italian has never been one to go quietly and there has since been talk of him suing the Robins and allegations he broke into the club's offices in the night to tear down pictures. His eventful time at the County Ground also featured a post-match fight with his own player Leon Clarke, caught by TV cameras.

He was no more of a stranger to controversy as a player. In September 1998 di Canio was banned for 11 matches after pushing over referee Paul Alcock, and he twice gave a fascist salute to Lazio's "ultras" after scoring against clubs with traditionally left-wing fan-bases.

Eventually the Roman club released him and he moved to Cisco Roma in Italy's regionalised fourth tier. It was alway hard to see how appointing an unashamed fascist and Benito Mussolini admirer would not embarrass Miliband, who has stepped down as vice-chairman after also resigning as a Labour's South Shields MP last week to move to New York. …

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