The trials and tribulations of being Paulo Di Canio this week

by Mike Moore

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Sometimes you just need to sit back and realise that there is always someone who has it worse off than you. So if Roberto Mancini is still feeling down after losing Mario Balotelli, if Arsene Wenger is feeling a bit frustrated after refereeing decisions go against him, they should instead consider moving down two divisions and stepping into Paulo Di Canio’s shoes at Swindon Town.

Already feeling under pressure following the revelation of the club’s £31 million debt and possible sale to foreign investors, Di Canio has today stated that he may only be able to name a squad of thirteen for this week’s game with Colchester United. Following a virus sweeping through the squad last week – an event which led Di Canio only naming six substitutes for Town’s games last Saturday against Crawley, it appears that the Robins are still going to be very thin on the ground this week due to illness and injury.

Town had already been relying on youth team members to bolster their squad, but even this has been thwarted this week, as injury and international call-ups have taken their toll. However, there were some options available, with Di Canio opting against extending the loan deal of Norwich striker Chris Martin, as well as continuing to ignore using out-of-favour Luke Rooney or Lee Cox, stating that using the latter two, “was not an option”.

It has been a chequered season so far for one of the neutral’s more intriguing and passionate bosses, seemingly facing a Sissyphean task for success.. Having originally been put under a transfer embargo in late October, Di Canio has still moulded his squad into legitimate promotion challengers, injecting more of the vim and vigour that saw them regain League One status last season. Since joining the club in May 2011 following their relegation to League Two, Di Canio has brought Town great success, last season leading them to promotion as champions and reaching the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final, with the club are currently now sitting third in League One.

As mentioned earlier, Di Canio’s on-field issues have not exactly been helped by the off-field machinations down at Boundary Park. The club was finally sold to a local consortium on January 30th, following revelations from former owners that the club needed immediate investment to avoid entering administration. At one point, the club even sent out a letter to every club in the Football League stating that all Swindon players were for sale.

Most went untouched, but in an attempt to lessen this burden, the new Swindon owners sold star winger Matt Ritchie to fellow League One promotion chasers Bournemouth for £500,000 last week, (well short of his manager’s earlier tongue in cheek statement that he would only accept £15 million for his talisman) leaving Di Canio fuming that this had been done behind his back. His attempts to sign a replacement (apparently Charlton’s Bradley Wright-Phillips and Danny Green) were then thwarted by a transfer embargo imposed by the Football League as part of the deal to sell the club.

It’s not hard to see why Di Canio feels the need to make such statements to the press – one can only imagine the frustration he must be feeling and these are extremely hard conditions to work through in such a challenging and competitive division. As a manager who always wears his heart on his sleeve and is probably the closest to the embodiment of pure passion in the British game, hopefully his troubles will be over soon – both him and his team deserve to be playing at a higher level.

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