Paolo Di Canio: He’s Bonkers, brilliant and Box Office

It’s just shy of two O’clock in the afternoon, the final whistle has blown in the much anticipated Tyne-Wear Derby and newly appointed Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio is saluting the 2,500 mackems; who are congregated up in the heavens of the Leases Park stand and Sunderland have ended a 13 year hoo doo at the home of their nearest and dearest.

The three-nil score line was fully deserved by Sunderland; their first half performance was full of pressure, tenacity and the ability to hit the sluggish Newcastle on the counter when the opportunity arose. Di Canio has stated in his pre match comments that he thought his side lacked Premier League fitness; his players looked like they wanted to make a point and hurried the Newcastle players into making rushed and untimely tame passes; only to infuriate the home crowd. Sessegnon’s goal in the 26th minute was the first of three fantastic finishes and his upturn in form could well be key to Sunderland’s survival hopes.

The second half continued in much of the same manner to the first, with Newcastle having the slight advantage in possession but Sunderland constantly broke in numbers and had a clear threat. You could have forgiven Alan Pardew for thinking it wasn’t going to be his side’s day when keeper Krul went off with a dislocated shoulder and Papiss Cisse had a perfectly valid goal chalked off for offside. The Newcastle manager’s day was made worse when the much maligned Sunderland winger Adam Johnson picked up the ball some 35 yards from goal, dribbled and curled in a supreme shot past sub keeper Elliot. His celebration in front of the Newcastle fans clearly meant a lot to the boyhood Sunderland supporter.

The game was effectively sealed when the ever impressive Sessegnon played subistute Michael Vaughn through on goal, he launched a 20 yard pile driver into the top left hand corner and soon after the ground started to empty. It was a top class performance from a rejuvenated Sunderland side; they had completely outplayed their rivals throughout the duration of the game.

Sunderland’s domination on the pitch was also apparent on the touch line; Paolo Di Canio was superior to his counterpart Pardew throughout. Not only did he out do him in the fashion stakes but his goal celebrations were simply fantastic. A combination of Mourinho slides, fist pumps and jumps with airtime a plenty showed just what beating the Geordies meant to the charismatic Roman. Tactically he was spot on throughout, he set his side up to play on the counter; knowing full well that Newcastle were likely to tire (due to their efforts midweek against Benfica) and pressing high up the field when in possession of the ball forced Newcastle to hoof the ball into the box, which centre backs O’Shea and Cuellar dealt with.

It’s early days in the Di Canio regime, but beating Newcastle in their own back yard for the first time in 13 years has gone a long way to justify club owner Ellis Short’s decision to bring him in. Newcastle, still only on 36 points with a shocking goal difference, still have work to do. What is for sure is that both Sunderland and Newcastle need each other, the Northeast Derby is without question the most passionate in England; both these clubs have been starved of success for many a year yet their supporters continue to flood through the gates in hope. And it is that hope that will drive the supporters and most importantly the players of both sides that will keep both these giants in the Premier League.

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