Sunderland’s love affair with Paolo Di Canio has seen initial hesitation on the part of the former give way to increasing affection. Doubts over the Italian’s personal beliefs and lack of top-flight managerial experience have diminished with the team’s improvement on the pitch.
The revitalized Black Cats won bragging rights in the Tyne-Wear derby, before the Italian led them to a win over Everton that has increased their chances of Premier League survival. This unlikely relationship between the tempestuous, yet highly astute Di Canio and his newly acquainted Mackem brethren is sure to be a passionate one right until the end.
Di Canio in many ways represents the stereotypically fiery Italian persona, and has transfixed English football audiences from his playing days at Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic, right up until more recently with his first foray into management at Swindon Town.
The 44-year-old’s return to the British Isles in 2011 further re-established one of the more prominent connections between his adopted home and the calcio culture that has so captivated its English equivalent in recent decades.