Paulo Di CanioSpeculation linking Paolo Di Canio with the managers job at Elland Road is something I’ve spent the last month or so laughing off, but when it looked like Nigel Adkins was heading for Reading, it forced everyone to have a rethink.

Gus Poyet aside, the rest of the names being linked with the Leeds United job do little to get the heart-racing.

But Di Canio never fails to stir emotions, the pantomime villain of this tale, his madcap antics and dubious political beliefs make him an incredibly controversial figure, and while that wouldn’t work for most clubs, it probably would for Leeds.

No one likes being hated more than we do. We thrive on the “everyone hates us and we don’t care” mentality, we’ve actively encouraged it for decades. A few years back there was a supporters’ poll which ranked Leeds United as the most hated club in England, our fans celebrated that like Huddersfield Town fans celebrate a victory at Elland Road.

Warnock’s appointment didn’t please the majority of Leeds United fans based on his record alone, many perceived his style of management to be just what we needed. A universally despised figure who would inspire the ‘us against the world’ mentality so prevalent amongst our fanbase, but so often lacking in the players.

As things turned out, Warnock was a bit of a damp squib. Perhaps he mellowed in old age or lost the passion which saw him succeed previously, his constant self-pitying remarks about being away from his family in Cornwall suggests he’s taken his eye off the ball somewhat. I wouldn’t say he’s lost his love for the game, but he’s certainly been worn down by it. He cuts a dejected figure nowadays, one who’s come to realise that there’s more to life than football.

And that’s great for Neil. Healthy, in fact. But not what you want in a football manager I’m afraid.

It takes a lot of long hours, self-sacrifice, and passion to succeed in football management and fans recognise that. No one wants to see their manager casually shrug off poor result after poor result like he hasn’t got a care in the world, there’s nothing that frustrates Leeds fans more than throwaway comments like “I can’t fault the lads efforts” and “luck wasn’t on our side today!”

Successful clubs aren’t built on the acceptance they’re going to be second best sometimes or that luck can effect the outcome, they’re built upon a community who refuse to accept that has to be the case. You’ll never see Paolo Di Canio shrugging off defeat and poor performances in the manner Warnock does, instead you’ll get anger and frustration, and you’ll be left with the comforting reassurance that there will be consequences.

He approaches management with the exact same attitude he had to playing the game, without ever considering the possibility he may lose. It’s incomprehensible to people like him, that’s why you get the slightly unhinged reactions when it does happen.

Like Di Canio, Leeds isn’t a football club willing to accept mediocrity. We don’t want to hear Neil Warnock moan about being away from his family instead of the reasons we’re losing games, because as selfish as this may be, we don’t care. Leeds United must be his only concern, especially in defeat. We expect an immediate inquest into our failure followed by restless nights working on how we’re going to turn things around which will then be implemented during the extended training sessions he’s insisted on.

Defeat shouldn’t be followed by a manager applauding the players’ efforts. That might be acceptable at the lesser clubs Warnock has managed, but it won’t wash at Elland Road. If we didn’t win, it wasn’t good enough. Simple.

Leeds United need a manager who embodies the ethos of this football club. A manager with a ‘win at all costs’ mentality, someone to whom the concept of defeat is so inconceivable, it’s only a matter of time before it leads to a nervous breakdown and he’s committed to a mental health institute after butchering several players.

Yes, he’s an absolute madman, yes it’d be messy (especially the butchering part) and yes, it could be an absolute disaster. But I can’t shake the thought that Leeds United needs a Paolo Di Canio shaped boot up the arse, not just for the players sake, but the fans as well. Someone who can cut through all the excuses, the moaning and self-pity and have everyone so fired up behind his own God complex, all the other nonsense quickly fades away.

Nigel Adkins probably is the sensible choice here. But how will he cope being second-guessed and undermined by the perpetual moaning of our fanbase? It’ll likely take time and patience for Adkins to succeed at Elland Road, a luxury Leeds United fans won’t afford anyone after so many years outside the Premiership.

Paolo Di Canio on the other hand will get an immediate reaction. For better or for worse, it won’t take long to see his impact. The whole club will be shaken from it’s very foundations, players and staff will be forced to subscribe to the Paolo Di Canio way or head for the exit.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that we need a character like Paolo. The ego, the passion, the madcap antics and the God complex, because it’ll take a man like that to turn people’s attention back towards what matters and away from all the other nonsense that surrounds our football club.

Maybe I’ve lost the plot (or never had it to begin with), but the club has seemed so lethargic under Neil Warnock I really think we could use a little volatility to liven things up a bit. If nothing else, it’d be entertaining.

What’s the worst that could happen?

67 Responses

  1. Mark

    I’d be very happy if we went to him tbh.

    We’d never be short of passion or flair

  2. Shaun Hornet Clifford

    Stabillity is needed at our club more than ever but im afraid this guy wouldnt bring it for the long run. Agree about his passion, etc but hes too much of a liability.

  3. Ben Lofthouse

    I couldnt agree more about Paulo, not only do the players need someone who will get them going again but do it in a way where there are no excuses. I believe that he would make Leeds fans fall back in love with Leeds after a few years of dyer mediocrity that, if nothing else, is just draining. The only thing i would worry about with Di Canio is the reason he left Swindon was because of the mess with the owners and the sale of the club, the sale of players without told let alone consulted etc. The way our club is at the moment where we dont know much about what is going to happen with the owners and whether they are trying to sell again or not, whether they have money to back a new manager and a push for promotion or whether, God forbid, they might end up like Bates would Di Canio want to go through it all again.


    • kev raunds

      sod it lets go for him,we need a change so it might as well be a big one.

      • PMH

        That is a completely irrational basis for hiring anyone for any job.

      • kev raunds

        When has anything at leeds made any sense in the last 8 years

      • dirty leeds

        I say sod it too, can it be any worse for us? If so, then lets have some entertainment along the way.
        Although i dont really thing GFH will ever appoint a LUFC manager…they will leave it to whoever takes us on, so lets hope its quick.

    • RoDz

      Michael , may i ask your opinion ( Genuine question ok ) about DiCanio ( also the Fascist connection) >

    • leedsusa

      Maybe not but I for one am ready for some entertainment, If you’re not winning trophies that’s the least you can ask for

  4. Svein-Magne Forsgren

    I can agree with most of this and I wouln’t mind a foreign manager. Italians know at least how to organize a team defensive.

    The thing I don’t like and cannot accept is the facsist thing

    • MarkR

      More of a Communist then? Uncle Joe Stalin? Send slackers off to a Gulag? Sweet!!

      • djedjedje

        Jesus, it’s a sad day when to show concern about someone’s openly-declared fascist sympathies are met with the polar opposite name-calling, ‘Communist!’

    • Jamminjuda

      I am far from convinced of Di Canio’s ability as a manager. He does a lot of shouting & from the heart stuff. I see very little ability as someone who could inspire his team or who has a tactical brain. If these were my sole objections he would be like any other candidate. They can be put aside once an appointment is made and on field results become the indicator of success.

      The difference with Di Canio is the fascist thing. That cannot be put to one side and will continue to divide fans as long as he remained at the club. Nor would the issue abate over time as there can be no middle ground. Di Canio has previously declared himself a fascist and been photographed making a fascist salute. He is not “just a Nationalist” as has been suggested and there has been at least one complaint from a black player to the FA over his attitude.

      For me the appointment of Di Canio would go way beyond KB and his true blue background. I could not attend a match while he was in charge.

  5. Rob

    Granted Di Canio has passion and probably would demand 100% effort but whilst they might be populist crowd pleasing traits to fans they won’t bring long term success if that’s all there is. Look at Roy Keane’s record – a good start at both club’s he’s managed before tailing off steadily. Passion and discipline are only ever short term success bringers, Di Cannio would have to have more in his armoury.

    You can’t just demand victory every game and publicly berate and punish anything below this. After a few weeks the players become immune to it and after a little longer hostile to it. Look at Taggart and Wenger – after a defeat it’s really not uncommon for them to say they’re hard done to, or put in a good effort, or that a decision cost them. You can’t have just a single approach to man management – successful managers have a range of approaches for different circumstances and individuals. Although ‘nothing below 3 points’ is offered as a virtue of Di Cannio I suspect he has a little more nouse than that.

    Warnock’s tactics might be outdated and he may have lost some of his edge but the bottom line is that the squad of players he currently has and that any new manager will start with are, for the most part, cast offs, with most of the decent players the club has had having been sold off. When you have a group of players who just aren’t good enough, and where many of them have had a ropey couple of years in terms of club failure (all the ex-Portsmouth boys, Diouf, Morrison, Stephen Warnock, Peltier, Hall, Tonge and even Kenny had had a difficult year before joining us – its why they were cheap enough for us to get) then being berated by your new manager for not performing above your modest abilities every single week maybe isn’t what you need.

    If the players aren’t good enough then new ones are needed and Di Cannio hasn’t really had much experience of handling money (assuming we get some – if we don’t then promotion won’t happen anyway), and none at championship level, either in terms of recruitment or management. I also wonder whether his politics and character would put off some players?

    Paolo di Cannio would look like a huge gamble to me and not the sort of individual to bring stability to what’s been a very unstable club for a few years. That said, there’s not really any candidate who excites me so maybe a long shot like him might be worth a go in the absence of any money to invest in the playing squad.

    • PMH

      You make a good case against Di Caneo, and then you say, What the hell. why not? The why not is that Leeds are a fragile organization and a bad hire of manager will make things worse. Yes, they can get worse.

  6. superleeds93

    Paolo Di Canio is everything Warnock isn’t. Young, fiery, passionate and doesn’t make excuses. Would someone like Paolo accept Paddy Kenny’s lackluster efforts, or Luke Varney contributing almost nothing every game? God only knows what he would make of ‘Browneh’. Fact is, Leeds need him. The Leeds United we all know and love wouldn’t have thought twice about having the shouty little madman! Hell, look at a few of our club legends, Bremner, Batty, Gradel, Vinnie Jones, all had a bit of a mad streak, all had fire, why now is that scary to Leeds fans? Being out of the PL for so long has meant that the big brave Leeds we all know is just a little timid in the hope we wont do something wrong and not go up. Playing safe has never been the Leeds way, i think the club needs to take a chance, if it all goes tits up, sod it, ‘we’ve been through it all together’ Ups and Downs and all that, Can’t be any worse that what we’ve had recently…plus, he’s kinda cool.
    I’m backing Paolo.

    • Dr Zen

      He’s completely not cool. He’s the last person Leeds should appoint. He’s not “mad”. He’s an affirmed fascist and I for one would be disgusted if Leeds were managed by him.

      • superleeds93

        His political beliefs should have no bearing on his ability and legitimacy to manage a football team. Football is filled with closet racists, homophobes, rapists etc.. the fact that he showed admiration for Mussolini, doesn’t mean he wants to kill jews for god sake! If anything he should be applauded for his honesty. Is this nation not a democracy with freedom of speech and belief? or does that only count if your a white middle class christian male.

      • PMH

        Don’t be ridiculous. Of course political beliefs matter in a public position like Manager of Leeds United. The team represents the city and the county of Yorkshire. People from here died fighting fascism.

    • PMH

      Those you identify as having “fire” were players. You need different qualities for a manager. Plus, fascists are not cool in my book. This is no joke.

  7. Ev

    I know where you are coming from but like someone else said, our club needs stability more than anything else at the moment and this guy will not bring that ! I think the fans just want to see good football played and to feel like the club ownership is finally on a firm footing…. DiCanio will either work from the start or fail miserably….. and it will almost certainly end one day and it wont be an amicable parting….. Its too much of a lottery basicly. Where as with Adkins you know your going to get a bright, pro-active solid management style that will almost leave our club and its youth system in a far better place after he leaves! Common sense says Adkins (thats if he wants the job ofcourse with Toma2 on the horizon)

  8. Matthew

    Great article. I agree from football & passion perspectives but I’m seriously worried about his acknowledged fascism. A Swindon trade union cancelled their sponsorship when he was appointed & Leeds Jewish community & supporters could be a real issue. But it would be fun!
    Ps my girlfriend knows nothing about football and I showed her a photo of Di Canio & she said he’s a fascist. He was waving, not the nazi salute, just waving. Scary! And when you’re article asked what’s the worst that could happen? She said “we could all end up in the gas chambers!”

    • TSS

      Honestly don’t think his political beliefs are in the least bit relevant.

      It’s rare you’ll find anyone who doesn’t believe something you strongly disagree with, but a liberal society rises above that to accept all comers who are willing to abide by the laws of the land and don’t discriminate against others when practising their beliefs.

      Take myself for example, my better half (a Catholic) calls me a “militant atheist” because I get quite passionate about the issue. I don’t agree with any religion, I think they’re basically cults responsible for some of the worst atrocities in human history, who continue to divide a world over trivial nonsense. But I don’t hold that against individual people who do believe in religion because the issue is much more complex. For example, you can’t judge Islam based on the extremist actions of a radical few. The majority are just peaceful citizens who take comfort and moral guidance from ancient beliefs.

      Nobody can seriously believe Di Canio is racist? He’s worked in football alongside people from all races and background for most of his life without issue.

      PS. It’s not a Nazi salute BTW, it’s a Roman salute, it’s common with Lazio fans

      • Matthew

        TSS, I respect your views but overall the fascist anle is a recurring theme in Leeds fans comments on the Internet. His appointment could happen though. I can’t see Adkins accepting the job with the current ownership uncertainty and I think we need a “name” with stature & he’s got that.


        Absolute bollocks TSS. I’m not saying he’s a racist (although he almost certainly is, because that’s what fascists are) but if you can remember the damage in reputation the club took after the woodgate-bowyer case you wouldn’t want DiCanio anywhere near Elland Road. Were not that fucking desperate are we? His only qualifications is 1 and a half seasons managing in the lower leagues. Even if he wasn’t a fascist he’s not got the experience to manage Leeds.

      • Tyler75

        Are you kidding with this? The “Roman Salute” was adopted by the fascists and the Nazis and its modern use and significance is beyond question. If you’re still not convinced, walk down the streets of Chapletown and give it a try.

      • Dr Zen

        What does that even mean? “I wouldn’t judge a fascist based on Mussolini”? Do you have any idea what fascism is? Are you aware that Di Canio idolises Mussolini? He has a fucking tattoo idolising him. The “Roman salute” is precisely the Nazi salute. It’s where Hitler got it from, dude. And it’s common with Lazio’s fascist ultras.

  9. Graeme Archibald

    Before writing him off for his politics, google the word ‘fascist’, particularly in its Italian working class context – it has nothing to do with racism or the Nazis.
    Lets have an educated and informed debate.

    • harvey's penalty

      I’m sory, Graeme, but whatever you might google, fascism in Italy was and remains thoroughly repugnant. My wife’s parents lived through the last years of Mussolini, of summary executions in their villages, of concentration camps inside Italy, of collaboration with the Nazis of the ‘export’ of Jews and Gypsies to concentration camps run by the Nazis. Mussolini was, from the 20s, a dictator who, even before his alliance with the Nazis would without hesitation illiminate opposition en masse. Whether you think that matters re de Canio is one question. But history is history and should not be revised for convenience. Never forget and all that.

  10. Psycho

    The best manager that we ever had was Don Revie, without question! Now if you look at the qualities that he possessed you will see why Atkins is the better choice. We want a manager that if a ‘father’ figure, astute, loyal, passionate and talented. Nigel Atkins could be that man. We need the right manager, we need to be patient, we are on our way back to stay and put the fear of god into other teams. We are Leeds United, Nigel Atkins is the man we need!!!

  11. Somersetwhite

    He’s my first choice. Living in the West Country I have seen a lot of him and know quite a few swindon fans who think of him as a legend and were gutted when he left. He is a manager who has players around him that would die for him and he is EXACTLY what we need to fire some passion back into the supporters. Gates would instantly jump 5-10k with him in charge…..go for it GFH!!!

  12. Northumberland LUFC

    The great Don, we have been comparing current and past managers with his style and the success he brought for decades, only SGT Wilko and O’Leary have come fractionally close.

    Whoever we appoint as our next manager, and I think this should be before June, because next season who ever is in charge, and whoever owns us need to to get real to the fact the potential our great club has. I accept we are not the club we once were, however the name LEEDS UNITED still packs a punch. Everywhere I have travelled in the UK and abroad, when I am wearing one of my many Leeds shirts other football fans approach me, will sympathise with our demise and talk excitedly about our Great Club and wish it well. Last year I went to Greece and came across a group of Man U fans and even they were very gracious and complementary of LUFC, ( football, the common global language).

    Enough sentiment, our next managerial appointment is crucial, I would prefer Lambert, Poyet, Adkins, or Gary McCallister, whatever the compensation should Lambert or Poyet be the Clubs targets, this should be coughed up no matter how much. This is money of sound investment for the short and long-term footballing good of Leeds United, invest soundly and the rewards will come. For the sake of coughing up, investing, £12 – £15 million in a decent manager and some DECENT talented players to bring PL status back to Elland Road is a no brainier as far as I’m concerned. The regime at ER have been guilty of missing the opportunity to invest an push on so many times at key moments with Leeds, no wonder supporters are cynical and do not believe what we are fed by the club with poor excuses. It smacks of do the owners want us in the PL, ……… well bows the time to remove the butt plug and prove it !!

  13. hirdistheword

    I think that we would get all the passion and extra flair without the risks of fascism, tantrums and general insecurity by giving the job and about £15-20 million to Gus Poyet. Poyet wants to be a top manager and he has done all he can with Brighton, getting Leeds United promoted and established in the premier league would be a huge feather in his cap and give him a shot at a dream sixth month contract with that trigger happy ruskie at Chelsea!

  14. Paul

    This has to be the best line about Leeds in a long while “A few years back there was a supporters’ poll which ranked Leeds United as the most hated club in England, our fans celebrated that like Huddersfield Town fans celebrate a victory at Elland Road”. Brilliant TSS

  15. Gary

    Im suprised weve never had a foreign manager before just welsh irish scotish n english,maybe worth a try an move with the times

  16. Gesus1981

    Di Canio does not accept mediocrity, therefore I would back his appointment.

    Elland Road would soon fill up again!

  17. Matthew

    Whoever we get. they need money for a team. Otherwise it’l be the same old dissapointments.

  18. Tyler75

    Leaving aside the fascism (which god knows is reason enough to give him an almighty swerve) his CV at Swindon hardly pushes him to the front of the queue over other candidates plus the last thing we need is to import madness and instability; we’ve had enough of that for several lifetimes with Bates. If not Adkins, then McDermott or Owen Coyle are much better options.

  19. anon

    Paulo certainly did well at swindon but you have to take into account he had the biggest budget in league 1/2. When he first joined the club he spent a fortune on Italian players who were simply not good enough. He had the luxury of being given funds to sign a new squad within a couple of months of taking over. Players he spent a decent amount were either sent out on loan or banished to the reserves. He is undoubtedly talented but be careful what you wish for , it may come true.

    • Matthew

      Biggest budget in League 1/2 is fuck all. Infact when we were in league 1, we paid the highest wage in the division, no other team could compete.

      That’s saying something.

  20. wyla

    before i read this i thought you would have to be at least twice as mad as di canio to want him as manager but i really find it hard to disagree with this quite excellent article and i’m not at all easily convinced.

  21. Irving08

    Enough of this nonsense ! There are more important things to decide than the identity of the next Manager such as what kind of club are to be ? what is to be our ethos and playing style ? and what structures need to be put in place to implement the conclusions of our deliberations. If there has to a managerial appointment before all these questions are fully answered, then at least it should be of someone who is understands them. There has been enough clowning about at our football club over the past decade. We now need to be deadly serious about our football club before it is too late to revive it.

    • mrbigwheels

      Am pleased you’ve said it Irving. I’m playing the fairly quiet man in the corner at the mo’. GFHC seem to be making every effort to see the longer term continuity of Warnock. This may well suit them and fit with their ‘silent’ plans. I do not see them employing a long term replacement within their term. I think the vague picture for us fans will prevail for a time while the Siberian climate moves slowly around us.

      We need sunshine and smiles… not hotshots.

  22. DanS350

    Whilst he might be one of the better choices at the moment, I think Leeds can afford to be a little patient and wait till the end of the season. With managers like di Canio, Adkins and McDermott becoming available recently, what is to say there won’t be a more suitable candidate round the corner?

    For me, Di Canio is NOT the answer. Like Rob has posted, I think the stability issue is very important.

  23. PMH

    This is a foolish article. It promotes one desirable quality and ignores the rest. Passion alone is useless. Building a successful premiership club requires technical excellence, the ability to motivate varied personality types, team building, good judgement of talent, plus tact and diplomacy with fans and ownership. Let’s face it, the biggest idiots in the stands have plenty of passion, but we won’t be hiring any of them to manage Leeds United either. It is tempting, when frustrated, to think that a big kick up the rear is needed. That is the impetus that leads to extremely poor hires of managers, and constant firing. Let stupid Blackburn hire Di Caneo. Leeds need a steady and stable leadership for the long term job of building a successful Premiership team.

  24. PMH

    Final thought: The most desirable managerial trait for us is the ability to attract Premiership level players to a Championship team. Di Caneo is more likely to scare them away. He just is not the type that comes into mind as the person you want to be your boss.

  25. superleeds93

    I’ve mentioned this to someone else, but am i alone in thinking that, Paolo Di Canio’s personal political beliefs should have no bearing as to him getting a job anywhere in this country? So what if he had spoken about admiration for a fascist leader? He is managing a football team, not reforming the NHS.

    This is supposedly a free country with freedom of thought. But apparently if you disagree with the mainstream and are honest about your beliefs then your open to be insulted and shouldn’t be allowed to work simply because of those political beliefs. That sentiment is more frightening than having Paolo in charge. Come to think of it, how do we know Adkins isn’t a communist sympathizer? or Poyet isn’t a raging homophobic? Simply put we don’t. Di Canio should be admired for his honesty not persecuted.

  26. Cardo

    Hate to say it but Leeds need a manager who will stand up to the fans. We’ve had our fair share of injustice over the years, but we have developed a moaning attitude, we need someone to fight back and lead the fans and the team in the right direction.

  27. Notfamousanymore

    This is an interesting piece

    My first thought a couple of months back on the ‘who follows Warnock’ theme was – Di Canio would be kind of interesting. And we could do with interesting; cup runs aside, this season has been very flat, and Warnock does look like someone who is tired and worn down.

    My second thought was – no, he’s nuts, he’s too flaky, he would be in and out in 6 months, he’s got too much baggage (although the Lazio ‘Roman’ thing and the BNP/EDL/Nazi (UKIP!) ‘fascist’ racist thing really are not the same thing, sorry; it’s a bit of mentality that a Roman/Italian might be able to articulate better than me).

    My third thought was – you know, he was an intelligent (if occasionally nuts) player, who has made an intelligent (if occasionally erratic) manager. He hasnt lost the emotion, or by all accounts the temper, but he will, at 40-odd with a couple of kids, be a more mature, knowing person who can use passion and emotion more selectively. He actually engaged like a fan with Lazio, and with West Ham. A bit of heart-on-the-sleeve emotion rather than the bleary defeatist dross we have had from Warnock this year might be good.

    So, all in all, I’m converted. I think. But….

    The “worst that could happen” is that he would sign a three year deal, we would get all excited, and 6 weeks later he would quit in an almighty strop, and we would be left looking like idiots and be several steps backwards on the road to getting sensible investors, a re-engaged fan base, or a ‘proper’ manager who isnt a tired has-been looking for a last payday. I doubt we could afford much more supporter alienation after so long under Bates. So it would be a risk.

  28. Boaney

    It’s a fair point you make about someone with a god complex who doesn’t tolerate losing. Mourinho for example, I know he had money but he had the same mentality, even Fergie, losing is not acceptable!

  29. AlwoodleyWhites

    The instability of our club at the moment surely won’t be a tempting proposition for the Italian. Are we selling? Aren’t we selling? If so, what % are we selling? And will this new potential investor add any addition funds for future investments? Similarities of his time at Swindon surely won’t bring this man to our club. Even with Ken Bates in the background, moving forward and influencing all decision making processes at the ripe old age of 81, the Italian Stallion wouldn’t get his way with the team. A sorry state of affairs overall but then again… we’re not famous any more!

  30. jimtom

    ….what an inspired article….I’m now convinced,converted and wanting the arrival of the lunatic from Italia!


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