After Paulo Di Canio took over from the sacked Martin O’Neill with Sunderland hovering above the drop zone, many expected the Black Cats to go through the Premier League trap door and into the Championship. The Italian, however defied the odds to use all his personality and demeanour to keep the club in the top flight and now the rookie manager has now swiftly set about ensuring that Sunderland are not in the same predicament this coming season.
The fiery Italian has completely re-shaped his squad ahead of the new season with the signings of 9 players which has been equalled out through the departures of 7 first team and squad members along with two youngsters. This has meant the pressure is on for Di Canio to succeed after making wholesale changes to the team.
The biggest signing of the summer for the Wearside club has been the surprise capture of Juventus winger Emanuele Giaccherini who has joined the revolution for a fee of around £7 million. The Italian star scored 4 goals in 40 appearances for his old club and his versatility makes him an important member of the squad and a real coup for the Black Cats. The other major signing of the window so far is the capture of former Hull striker Jozy Altidore from AZ Alkmaar for a fee in the region of £9 million. Despite being a major flop for Hull in the Premier League when he scored 1 goal in 28 appearances, the USA international scored 38 goals in 67 appearances during his spell in the Eredivisie and has bolstered Di Canio’s limited options upfront due to the injury for Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham’s loan move to Hull.
The other signings are Modibo Diakité on a free transfer from Lazio, central defensive midfielder Cabral from FC Basel, goalkeeper Vito Mannone from Arsenal, midfielder El-Hadji Ba who has signed from Le Havre B, Valentin Roberge who has moved to toe Stadium of Light from CS Maritimo and finally Altrincham striker Duncan Watmore who looks to be for the future. These additions have moulded the Italian’s squad to one he feels can compete for a top ten finish and avoid languishing down towards the drop zone.
After making all these signings and sending numerous players through the exit door, it put the pressure on Di Canio to succeed and you wouldn’t bet against it. It seems to me that it will either be a masterstroke or a horror show for the frantic boss and many footballing fans will be interested to see how the former West Ham legend fairs during his first full season as a manager in the top tier of English football.