Sunderland and their fans celebrated a famous 3-0 victory at north east rivals Newcastle yesterday.
It was the first time that the Black Cats had won at St James Park in 12 years and the win could not have come at a better time.
Not only did Sunderland get the satisfaction of getting one over on their local rivals, but the victory also moved the Black Cats three points clear of the dreaded relegation zone. The result also drags the Magpies back into the fight for survival.
At the time of his appointment, I really was not sure that Paolo Di Canio was the right man for the Sunderland managers’ position. I did not know what to make of his very risky appointment.
His first game in charge of the team was away at Chelsea. That game at Stamford Bridge really was a free game, as nobody expected the side from the north east to get anything against the side that conquered Europe last May.
However, even in that match Sunderland looked like a different team to one that was playing so poorly under previous boss Martin O’Neill.
Sunderland had been poor going forward in the previous few months and seemed to lack any cutting edge in attack. However, in Di Canio’s first two matches the Black Cats have looked more of a threat going forward, especially against their bitter-rivals Newcastle.
It seems the major difference in the team is the belief amongst the players. Some of the players in the Sunderland squad are infuriatingly inconsistent. Two players in particular stand out, attacking midfielder Stephane Sessegnon and winger Adam Johnson.
Both players have heaps of ability, but do not produce it on a regular enough basis. Ironically, both players found the net in yesterday’s big match. Not only did they score, they put in far better performances than in recent weeks.
Sessegnon, Johnson and winger James McClean are mavericks and somebody like Di Canio will know how to get the best out of the attacking trio, as he was something of a maverick himself during his playing days.
Paolo Di Canio is one of football’s most passionate characters. The Italian showed his passion when the Black Cats three goals went in. The former-Swindon boss always played with his heart on his sleeve and it seems that is how he manages as well.
It will warm the hearts of Sunderland fans to see their boss showing such passion and everybody joining in the goal celebrations. It shows that everybody involved in first team affairs is on the same page
Sunderland may have got slightly lucky with Newcastle having a perfectly good Papiss Cisse goal ruled out at 1-0, but in truth, their overall performance deserved the victory. I think only the most hardcore Newcastle fan would begrudge the Black Cats the victory.
It may just be one win, but the way that the Black Cats won will inspire confidence for the rest of the season. The whole atmosphere at the club seems to have changed since the arrival of Paolo Di Canio.
Sunderland may not be safe from the drop just yet and have a tough home game against Everton next weekend. However, if they carry on how they have started under Di Canio then the Italian will still be bringing his colourful antics to Premier League touchlines next season.
Sunderland’s victory at Newcastle plunged Stoke into further trouble at the bottom of the Premier League table. The Potters suffered a 2-0 home defeat to champions-elect Manchester United yesterday.
Goals from Michael Carrick and Robin Van Persie were enough to see United claim a comfortable victory and move a step closer to regaining the Premier League crown from arch-rivals Manchester City.
Can Paolo Di Canio keep Sunderland in the Premier League this season?