Over the last few days I’ve read a ridiculous amount of forum posts, articles, tweets and facebook statuses regarding the appointment of Paolo Di Canio. I've not read every article that have been posted, and I've only been able to skim through some of those that I have read. I think it’s been impossible to read every single thing that’s been written. There’s just been far too much.
One benefit of reading all of this, and not posting too much about it myself is that it's given me an opportunity to sit back and try and work out what I actually think about the whole thing. The problem is for all I've had this benefit I've not actually been able to form a proper opinion of the situation.
I must admit that after reading everything I do feel better (Not good, better) about him than I originally did when he was first linked with the job. I believe that he has been misquoted on a fair few of his opinions. Notably what he's said about Mussolini. Having read the full quote I think I've been able to form so sort of understanding as to what he was saying. He doesn't appear to be trying to defend anything that Mussolini did, indeed calling it vile, but more that he did do some good for Italy at the start. That he was a man who allowed his ethics to be corrupted. I'm not saying I agree whatsoever with what he was saying, but I can understand it. That is if I've read it correctly, I don't pretend to be particularly intelligent when it comes to politics, or particularly articulate when it comes to writing down what I'm feeling and thinking. Just hope it comes across.
At the same time there are things I cannot defend. The picture of him giving a salute in a bar surrounded by skin heads I cannot defend. Publicly stating that "I am a fascist" I cannot defend. Part of me believes he needs to come out and clarify his beliefs. Part of me thinks why the hell should he have to. I really don't know.
Getting off politics, I do think, based on what I've read of his management techniques, his footballing philosophy and his attitude to fitness and training, that he will keep us in the premiership. I can't help but feel a little bit excited when I hear him talk about the club and his plans, and I just wish we could have got this side of him without the baggage, because I think he will make a good (If not great) manager. He has one of the main things that stopped Roy Keane becoming a good/great manager, and this is that he learns from his mistakes. Football-wise anyway. The various posts I’ve read from Swansea fans have excited me. His eye for detail and his meticulous preparation for a match are exactly what we need right now, and if nothing else he’ll give the players a good kick up the backside and get them showing some level of fitness that they’ve not exhibited this season. I’d love to know what was going on in Titus Brambles head on Sunday night.
It has genuinely saddened me to see what's happened with some of our fans recently. One of the worst things about this appointment is how it has fragmented the fans. I’ve seen old friends fall out, and well reasoned arguments turn into mindless abuse. I don't blame specific people. Everyone perhaps has to share some of the blame. But I don't fully blame Ellis Short, Margaret Byrne, Di Canio himself, David Milliband, or certain members of the local and national media. Everyone has to take a portion of the blame.
I don’t really know where I stand. Part of me does believe that his personal politics shouldn't be so important in football, then I read a post that convinces me that they should be, then I read another that convinces me they shouldn't, then I read a post that convinces me that none of us actually know what the hell he thinks, then I read one that shows me that, actually, we do. I've been through this process about 10 times over the last 24 hours.
I'm probably somewhere in the middle.
But one thing I have taken from this is that I am not going to let this ruin any friendships that I have, whether that be "Online friendships" with people I've never met, or friendships with people I've known for years. And I am sure as hell not going to let it stop me from supporting MY club. A club doesn't stop at the manager. It's the players, the fans, the academy team, the young children that aspire to play in red and white, the groundsman, the tea lady and the programme sellers. Sunderland Association Football Club is a community and, for better or for worse, a damn important part of my life and I refuse to let anyone take that away from me.