Paolo Di Canio’s Red & White Army

Paolo Di Canio presented to the media

After 12 months of despair culminating in our drop to the bottom tier of the Football League, who three weeks ago, after Paul Hart was rightly dismissed, would’ve expected Swindon Town to be able to attract candidates of the calibre of Didi Hamann, George Burley, let alone today announce the appointment of football legend Paolo Di Canio?

Not since Glenn Hoddle was handed the reigns 20 years ago, has Town been able to count upon the services of one of the game’s most flamboyant and technically gifted geniuses. However, unlike the former (disability views aside), Di Canio is a notorious personality and mercurial talent, renowned for his dedication and commitment on the pitch, sometimes taking his love for the game a bit too far. His autobiography published in 2001 was always going to be an unfinished piece.

You've experience the Eternal City Derby now the A420 Derby...

A minority of supporters have already expressed their disgust at the appointment. I’m not going to dwell here regarding Di Canio’s ‘Roman Salute’ and the rest. If you really want to understand the man, his passions and his motives then read his autobiography or this article Political Football: Paolo Di Canio touching on the complex nature of Italian politics.

Straight after the Hart dismissal my brief for the next Swindon Town manager was always to appoint an exciting rookie manager. Swindon certainly haven’t been afraid to take gambles in the past, having offered a platform to young and hungry quality players in Macari, Ossie, Hoddle, McMahon and Wise, who’ve shown this to be our most successful managerial strategy.

In Di Canio I’m certainly not disappointed with the result. The Board have certainly ventured where others dared not in giving Paolo his first managerial position.

The key question on many lips is will Di Canio’s appointment become a masterstroke or a car crash waiting to happen?

At the moment…who cares! Revel in the club getting recognition and fully look forward to the new season.

A ball isn’t kicked in League Two until August. For those eleven weeks we’re going to experience a whirlwind of a pre-season. His appointment must be the signal to completely rebuild the club and playing staff to start a great new chapter in our history. Rightly this ambition was confirmed by interim Chairman Jeremy Wray in his lunchtime statement.

If only I could be a fly on the wall for the first meeting between the league One failures and the new Gaffer. Come to think about it, I’m sure the board could mic up all the players and Di Canio to the County Ground PA and fill the ground with those wanting to watch, it’ll be just like the Apprentice, but better…

We’ve got some good players and for a variety of reasons they’ve failed to perform. Di Canio isn’t going to stand for the same old shit.

Can you see Di Canio; putting up with Pericard? tolerate Cuthbert lumping the ball to the forwards? the individual mistakes we’ve continue to suffer from? the lack of commitment and passion that has blighted our season?… NO! The players don’t know whats going to hit them on their return.

If only half of Di Canio’s pride passion and belief rubs off on the team we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in League Two.

I’m expecting a new and exciting brand of football at the County Ground reflecting the style and character of the new gaffer, who wears his heart on his sleeve and is dedicated to the fans. Strong, asertful and flamboyant, doing it on the pitch for the supporters.

A journeyman as a player, with the exception of his spell at West Ham, I for one had let the thought of Paolo’s long-term ambition to see the job here and his stated desire to return to West Ham get in the way of considering him as my preferred candidate. Of course he might fail and that is the risk, albeit unlikely. Swindon has always been a managerial path to greater things, however I do hope he will stay around, at least for both of the Oxford United games and six points.

If Di Canio’s management style is anything like his conduct and ability as a player we can expect an eventful season. The rollercoaster of being a Swindon Town supporter is going to continue for a while yet. Come, buy your season tickets and be entertained!

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