Di Canio's passion stirs up Swindon

Swindon Town 2 Wigan Athletic 1

The County Ground

Paolo Di Canio won just as many friends as enemies in a playing career full of contradictions. It appears the boom-or-bust managerial appointment of Di Canio, albeit with upwardly-mobile League Two club Swindon Town, is moving along a similar path.

From famously earning an 11-match ban for pushing over referee Paul Alcock 14 years ago at Sheffield Wednesday to winning a Fifa Fair Play award in 2001 at West Ham, the explosive maverick was always in danger of going off at any given time.

Anyone at the County Ground who saw him mastermind the FA Cup scalp of Wigan will see he remains that animated human firecracker ever ready to explode. Management has yet to mellow the 43-year-old. But perhaps there is more than meets the eye with the mercurial Italian. Behind the cajoling, barracking and constant dialogue to anyone within earshot of the dugout, there were signs of a new Di Canio.

Preaching self-control, discipline and restraint to his players in the aftermath of Paul Benson's scruffy late goal that would eventually send Swindon through to the fourth round, Di Canio illustrated a side to him that suggests passion is not the only overriding factor on his CV.

"There is nothing like playing for Paolo Di Canio," said striker Alan Connell, whose first-half equaliser had set Swindon on the way to their upset. "He was passionate as a player and he's carried that trait into management, but his attention to detail is incredible.

"Everyone focuses on his mannerisms on the touchline, but he does a lot of research with his technical staff before every game, he shares all the relevant intelligence with us and we carried out his instructions to the letter. But it is his passion which rubs off on the players."

That word "passion" crops up a lot when Di Canio is involved. Sometimes it's hard to see beyond that. No doubt Leon Clarke, the striker removed from the club – sent to Charlton in a new year swap for Benson – after a publicised spat with the Italian, will vouch for that.

The same could be said for the Football Association's disciplinary panel as they studied footage of his dash onto the pitch to join the goal celebrations in the closing stages at Northampton Town on New Year's Eve.

But, for once, this was not just the Di Canio show. Wigan might have made wholesale changes, but Swindon had no right to out-pass, out-think and out-play Premier League opponents who lie three divisions and 53 places above them in the League standings.

Even after Callum McManaman had swept Wigan ahead, converting the rebound after Ben Watson's 35th-minute penalty had struck a post, you sensed there was always a whiff of an upset in the Wiltshire air.

It was no surprise, with chances having come and gone, when Connell flicked home Matt Ritchie's cross barely five minutes later.

Swindon continued to charge forward, dominated the tie and were duly rewarded for their pressure when Ritchie's shot was diverted past a stranded Ali al-Habsi by half-time substitute Benson in the 76th minute.

Of course, with every magic sprinkle of that FA Cup dust comes a story. Step forward Benson, the 32-year-old striker, who found impeccable timing to score his first Swindon goal in just his second game for his new club.

"I was due to come here on loan and we missed the deadline by three minutes back in November, so that didn't go ahead," recalled Benson. "But I might have been Cup-tied here because I had a chat to Chris Powell, the Charlton manager, and he was going to play me in the first round against Halifax.

"He pulled me aside before the team travelled and told me he didn't want to Cup-tie me if I was leaving in January. I was devastated at the time, but now I think it is one of the best decisions he has ever made."

The competition may continue to be devalued, but Wigan manager Roberto Martinez's focus is entirely on Premier League safety and this giant-killing only appeared to serve the long-term interests of his Wigan side.

"Our priority is the Premier League and our aim is to achieve a certain amount of points," he admitted. "I don't see this as a setback. [The FA Cup] is a fantastic competition, but winning the Cup for us is staying in the Premier League and the day we get 40 points."

Swindon Town (4-5-1): Foderingham; Caddis, Flint, McCormack, Kennedy; Connell (Magera, 66), De Vita (Cibocchi, 87), J Smith, Ferry, Ritchie; Murray (Benson, h-t). Substitutes not used: P Smith (gk), Devera, Gabilondo, Thompson

Wigan Athletic (4-5-1): Al-Habsi; Boyce, Lopez, Caldwell, Mustoe; McArthur, Watson (Gomez, 56), Thomas, Maloney (Moses 77), McManaman (Sammon, 90); Di Santo. Substitutes not used: Pollitt (gk), Gohouri, Redmond, Dicko.

Goals: Connell 40, Benson 76, McManaman 35

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices