I have been told to stop questioning the appointment of Paolo Di Canio and that whatever he says should not be criticised. Instead I should back him and help him, but I am unsure what that means. Does it imply just have blind faith and act merely as his apologist? Then and only when the time comes that he may be sacked - am I allowed to be a sheep and mouth him off?
I found my loyalty, if that's the appropriate word, on the line yet again after Sunderland's head coach finally broke his silence about the omission of Cabral. It has taken almost a month and looks ominous. It is difficult to wash, but according to Paolo Di Canio, there is no mystery. The Bosman summer signing was "slow-paced" and he has been pushed down to fifth place in the pecking order.
“In this moment I think I have better footballers who can do me a better job in the middle. We need a bit more fire, a bit more high-tempo, a bit more physical presence,”
In contrast, he heaped praise on David Vaughan, despite spending the transfer window trying to get rid of him and admitting he was not at his best last Saturday.
“In the last (previous) two games he was one of the best. He is sharp and can interpret the game in England better than Cabral,”
Maybe it is my integrity that I need to question. My belief was that the 24-year old Cape Verde international was expected to be a first-team regular after an impressive pre-season and commendable debut against Fulham. Yet he has not played a minute of Premier League football since, was even omitted altogether from the squad to play Arsenal and seems doubtful he will play again, at least in the short-term.
Like many, I was stunned by Di Canio's appointment on the eve of April Fool's Day, when given the task to prevent Sunderland's slide into the Championship. The shock turned to delight, perhaps even ecstasy, when the club avoided the drop, even if it was deserved by such inept performances. There were certainly no doubst about the need for a revolution, though I had reservations that the Italian, who at times appear little more than a headbanger, was the person to lead it.
I withheld my judgement and was pleasantly surprised at the enterprising football played during the pre-season in the Asia Trophy. Some of the signings also looked promising although I am not sure how much of this is down to Roberto De Fanti. I was even quite heartened by the opening display against Fulham albeit it ended in an unfortunate defeat from their only corner of the match.
Three more games on and still no win amid controversial team selections, tactics, substitutions and slagging off players in public. Hmm. Do I bury my head in the sand and trust somehow that he still may prove to be a messiah. I was already unhappy with the sale of Stephane Sessegnon, subsequently made worse by Di Canio's attempted justification why he was pushed out the door.
Then the calumniation of Cabral. Imagine how the midfielder felt to be assassinated in the full glare of the media and fans. The humiliation happened previously in different ways with regard to Ji Dong-Won twice and to captain John O'Shea. Is this Di Canio, the sports psychologist at work, to give players incentive? Already I am reminded of the number of players he fell out with at Swindon and headed for the exit by his antics.
I must admit I have been impressed with some of the attacking flair showed by Sunderland and rightly it is much better than the negative counter-attacking style mustered under Martin O'Neill. Credit where credit due and all managers have their own idiosyncratic ways and styles. But I still find it difficult to get from the back of my mind that the Italian is out of his depth and it will all end in tears.
As for my loyalty, there is no doubt about his ambition and passion but it takes a lot more in handling a squad of 27 individuals and built a team. In central midfield, it certainly be difficult enough keeping six players happy competing for two places, having yet to start with the same pair in all five games so far. Slagging them off will not help neither. Di Canio like everyone else should not be beyond reproach too.