After Paolo Di Canio fiasco, what now for once proud Sunderland?

 

At 8.30am on 13 July, the colliery bands of Durham began their march towards the city's market place. The miners' banners went with them, signposts to the past, a visible display of pride in the region's history. From there followed a slow march towards the County Hotel on Old Elvet. The bands played, the march went on to the racecourse, and the banners were strapped to the surrounding fences.

Three months earlier, Dave Hopper, the general secretary of the Durham Miners' Association, had written to Sunderland Football Club to demand the return of the Wearmouth Miners' banner.At that point the penny should have dropped.

The request for that banner which so impressively adorned a wall on a stairway at the Stadium of Light came in protest against the alleged facist sympathies of the man the club had just appointed manager, Paolo Di Canio. But instead of a major rethink, Sunderland's power-brokers drove faster towards the precipice.

They had the political might of board member David Miliband, then MP for South Shields and one time Foreign Secretary, to alleviate the impending crisis. There was no U-turn amid the alienation and chaos that engulfed Wearside following Di Canio's arrival in March.

Sunderland, led by the billionaire Ellis Short, refused to listen. Then Miliband resigned because of Di Canio's alleged allegiance to fascism. There was even an offer of resignation from Di Canio himself as the most vicious storm anyone associated with the club could remember whipped around the Academy of Light. It was turned down.

Now Di Canio has gone the club must find a way to stop the whirr of the Stadium of Light revolving door that spits out managers and players with alarming regularity. It seems unlikely to happen soon.

Sunderland have an unproven director of football in Roberto De Fanti. He is eager to impress, but the first team have been weakened since he took over transfer business in the summer. Stéphane Sessègnon and Simon Mignolet, the club's two best players last season, were sold.

Emanuele Giaccherini and Jozy Altidore were the most high-profile of the 14 players who arrived in the summer. Giaccherini carries around an English phrasebook. That offers hope, but this season will be nothing but a struggle from here on in. Rush into a decision and the consequences can be felt for years to come. Ask Wolves.

Di Canio could not build a relationship with his players. It is that simple. He destroyed bridges instead of building them. Gustavo Poyet's agent has held talks with Sunderland officials for his client to replace Di Canio. He remains the favourite for a club that wants a young tracksuited manager who will work with the players on the training ground.

Vicente, the Spanish international who worked with Poyet at Brighton, called him selfish and egocentric. It has to be hoped that lessons have been learned from the 175-day reign of Di Canio, but you can never be certain. Sunderland are doing due diligence on possible appointments. The result of that should be interesting.

The club needs to find itself as much as a new manager. There was a timely reminder from Kevin Ball, the caretaker manager who joined the club in 1990 as a player, of what a football club means to its community. Ball has been at the club for almost half his life. He said the first six weeks were hard to settle, but then he got what the club meant. His family have been brought up in the region. It is his home.

"Each player should be given a book which says 'this is Sunderland Football Club'. This is our club. These are our supporters. It's a club with hard-working supporters who just want you to understand what the club is about. Be prepared to understand what it's like for those people who come to watch you play." It feels like a strikingly pertinent point.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee