Quick Kicks: WBA Debacle; Di Canio Sacking

Tony Marshall

Another defeat, and this time one that brought an end to Paolo Di Canio's short spell as manager.

What The (Departing) Gaffer Said

We dominated the game for 20 minutes but then West Brom scored from their first real attack and from there we lost our belief.

The Premier League is a very tough league and very unforgiving, we were punished today and it is tough to take.

When we did create a chance to get back into the game but luck was against us. Steven Fletcher got injured and we could now be without him for a few weeks.

I couldn't have imagined this start, I knew it would be difficult but we have to keep going.

I will never give up, we have to remain professional and keep working hard.

I need to see fighting spirit from my players.

Tuesday's game is crucial, we need a lift ahead of the game with Liverpool and we want to progress in the cup.

It's a Champions League final for us - we need to get a boost and build our confidence up.

It had all worn a little thin by the end. Very much a case of same rubbish, different day.

Hard luck story, etc etc etc. Trust in our professionalism, blah blah blah. Need to fight and build confidence, yadda yadda yadda.

If talking won trophies then Di Canio would be the greatest of the lot. He really does talk a brilliant game. The problem is that the longer you are not picking up points the more hollow and meaningless those words become and before long you are left with nothing.

Why Drop Altidore?

No player should be assured of his place, but neither should they be dropped on a whim. That is what it feels has happened to Jozy Altidore here.

After last week Altidore was likely to have been chomping at the bit to take out his frustrations on someone. He'd have felt hard-done-by and possibly a little victimised. So how on earth is dropping him going to help in any way?

Altidore is clearly a confidence and momentum player. We have seen that in games themselves where his own demeanour changes as the contest ebbs and flows. Dropping him called his man-management into serious question.

How Not To Built Partnerships

Last week, Di Canio said that a solution was to build partnerships, playing the same team for a few weeks to allow the players to get to know each other. He had a fair point.

So why, therefore, did he change the team to the extent that every single partnership on the pitch aside from that of Ondrej Celustka and Adam Johnson was broken up?

Central defence was changed, central midfield was changed, the centre forwards were changed, and the left hand side was changed. Then, during the game, the central midfield was changed again, the forwards were changed again, left hand side changed at half time.

If Di Canio showed this level of ambivalence to his own preachings, how could he have expected his players to buy into them?

Let's Briefly Touch Upon Tactics

It is quite clear that Di Canio is passionately proud of his tactical blueprint. He tells us that it is how top teams play and, to be fair, it is.

But they only play that way because they can. They have the quality to dominate the ball in a midfield two, dominate forwards at the back, and commit players forward with relative security. Simply understanding how they do it isn't enough.

It isn't a case of they are top teams because they play this way, it is a case of them playing this way because they are top teams.

A tactic that keeps you at the top is about as helpful to Sunderland right now as a fart in a hurricane. What we needed was a tactic that GETS you to the top, scrapping, kicking, screaming, and boring if needed. Well, actually, just one that gets you away from the bottom would have done.

Di Canio insists that he won't change. If he wants to earn the time to show off his tactical ideal, I think he may well have to.

Di Canio Retrospective?

It is difficult to judge, really. We never had long enough to really have the first clue about what it was, or what it could have been.

One thing I think is obvious, however, that this isn't rooted solely in what has happened on the pitch. The club have given other managers more leeway there before. What is the full story? Who knows, but I'd wager there was one.

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