The West Ham United faithful have taken to social media in an attempt to get their voices heard. They know who they want their next manager to be, that man is Paolo Di Canio. What a story it would make for one of the games more intriguing characters to make a return to the club where he is most revered as a player.
Easy to forget then that West Ham don’t actually have a vacancy to fill.
West Ham co-Chairman David Gold took to Twitter himself this week to address the growing ‘pro-Di Canio’ trend amongst the clubs fans. Twitter as a rule is full of unfounded speculation and idle chit chat, so the fact that David Gold felt the need to address it shows that this story had at least caught the eye a little.
There are a few key factors that caused this claret uproar in the ‘Twittersphere’. Firstly, Paolo Di Canio is a bona fide West Ham legend. A combination of his stellar performances on the pitch and infectious/temperamental personality off it saw to that. Secondly, he is a West Ham legend who finds himself on the unemployment line after his very public resignation as manager of Swindon Town.
Thirdly, West Ham have seen a dip in form. The ‘non-West Ham’ brand of football that current incumbent Sam Allardyce plays was just about bearable when the team were winning. With the team in a poor run of form maybe this brand of football is bearable no more. And so, West Ham fans threw all of these ingredients together and served up an online vote of confidence for the mercurial Italian.
David Gold joined the debate on Tuesday, retweeting comments from West Ham fans on the matter, two for hiring Di Canio and two favouring keeping hold of Sam Allardyce. Perhaps realising that having a public discussion about a managerial position that already had an occupant was a little undermining, Gold then hung his hat on Big Sam.
“Always interesting to see the different opinions from people on Twitter. My view is clear though – Big Sam is our man!”
Maybe that is the case. But then, why fuel the debate at all? When do you see the managerial appointments of Chelsea, United or Liverpool discussed in such a haphazard fashion by a chairman? Arsene Wenger is coming under increased pressure this week, I doubt Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood will address this in the public domain. If he does he will probably require more than 140 characters, as a matter this delicate deserves.
Slightly unfairly, Sam Allardyce is unlikely to ever be a universally popular appointment anywhere he goes. You know what you’re getting from Sam and it’s not always pretty. He made his name with a tough, direct Bolton Wanderers side who held a similar reputation within the Premier League as the current Stoke City team. His style doesn’t appear to have changed since.
This did seem like a good thing when he was appointed. West Ham had played football the West Ham way and had nothing to show for it apart from relegation to the Championship. Allardyce’s appointment heralded a new West Ham way. The emphasis wasn’t on entertainment, it was on winning matches in the most efficient way possible. And West Ham found their way back into the top flight the next season.
You couldn’t really claim they are in crisis now, truth be told, 11th place in the league doesn’t immediately scream panic for a recently promoted side. But still, uncertainty clouds the air at Upton Park. It has now been made public that Allardyce is out of contract in the summer and that no discussions over a contract extension will take place until West Ham’s Premier League status is assured. Hard for a manager to command any long-term respect when he has no assurances over his future beyond May.
Perhaps the cries of the fans have perked up the ears of the Hammers co-Chairmen. They seem to want something different. And when it comes to Sam Allardyce, Paolo Di Canio may just be the polar opposite.
You know what you get with Sam. He’s solid, reliable, at times uninteresting. You do not know what you are going to get with Paolo Di Canio. A 23 year playing career that saw him change clubs 11 times, only once playing over 100 games for a club (West Ham). Maybe the sign of an impulsive mind. Now 44, Di Canio doesn’t seem to have matured much later in life.
Di Canio took over at Swindon Town (his only managerial position to date) after their relegation from League 1 but took them straight back up to England’s third tier at the first time of asking. Even though things looked rosy to begin with they quickly unravelled, as is often the case with Di Canio. Although it should be added that this was off the pitch, on it Swindon have been in the frame for a second consecutive promotion.
His trials and tribulations with the clubs hierarchy and subsequent failure to see the club sold saw Paolo announce his resignation in the local newspaper of Swindon. Another unique move for the Italian.
West Ham fans should be careful what they wish for. Reliable, dependable, steady. These aren’t words that should be taken lightly by a fan base who have seen their club yoyo between first and second tier over the last decade. In every sense, the appointment of Paolo Di Canio, were it to come to fruition, can be viewed as nothing more than a role of a dice.
West Ham could throw a six, they could easily throw a one. But when stability is the aim for every club in the country outside the Premier League’s top 5, why gamble at all?