Watching brief: how Paolo Di Canio measured up in first match in charge of Sunderland at Chelsea
DEMEANOURDi Canio’s attire – the jumper he wore under his suit had to be seen to be believed – promised touchline fireworks. But, by his standards, he was virtually immovable. He did not even celebrate the opening goal and barely reacted to those of Chelsea. He did spend the entire match on his feet and there were flickers of passion but they were increasingly forced.RECEPTIONEmbracing John Terry was perhaps not the wisest PR move after Di Canio walked out of the tunnel and he probably wants to watch the arm gestures. But Sunderland supporters were certainly on his side, singing his name as he turned to applaud them. Chelsea fans refused to give him a hard time and it was all really rather quiet until the opening goal prompted another chorus of “Paolo Di Canio” from the away end and they also sung his name at full-time.SELECTION AND TACTICSDi Canio made a bold selection decision by handing Connor Wickham only his second Premier League start of the season. The 20 year-old added a physical dimension to Sunderland’s play, which was duplicated throughout the side and worked well in the first half. But the new manager arguably did not adjust quickly enough to the injection of pace Fernando Torres’s game-changing introduction in the second.MAN MANAGEMENTThe Italian took every opportunity to cajole his players, beckoning them to him and either geeing them up or barking out orders. Having already been said to have impressed them during training last week, they responded well to his input and certainly did not lack for commitment. Danny Rose possibly bore the brunt of any frustration, most perversely after Sunderland took the lead.SUBSTITUTIONSMany managers would have turned to Plan B after Chelsea’s quickfire two goals turned the game on its head. But Di Canio waited until the 71st minute to make his first change, sending on James McClean for Sebastian Larsson, with Jack Colback replacing Craig Gardner late on. McClean certainly added some impetus to Sunderland’s play but the changes were not decisive.
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