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Paolo Di Canio fired by Sunderland: Favorites, and whither Jozy Altidore

Sep 22, 2013, 7:29 PM EST

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Paolo Di Canio was only in charge of Sunderland for six months, two-and-a-half of which featured no competitive action. That may lead some to hint he wasn’t given enough time, a conclusion precludes the possibility of somebody quickly showing he wasn’t right for the job.

While Di Canio kept Sunderland in the Premier League last year, he only took eight points from seven games. After his offseason changes and slow start to this year’s Premier League, there was no evidence beyond hope that he would be a success with Sunderland.

Whether Ellis Short and Margaret Byrne made the right move, however, will be dictated by Di Canio’s successor. There is no point getting rid of a head coach if his replacement doesn’t improve the club, so if Sunderland were to go out and sign, say, Richard Farley, the Di Canio departure all of a sudden looks rash.

Thankfully for Short and Byrne, there appears to be a wealth of candidates to be wooed. From The Guardian:

Ellis Short, Sunderland’s American owner, is expected to move swiftly with Robert Di Matteo, the former Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion manager, and Gus Poyet, until recently in charge of Brighton, among the favourites. Roberto Mancini, out of work after leaving Manchester City, has previously expressed interest in the job but would probably be beyond Sunderland’s budget. Meanwhile Steve McClaren, currently helping Harry Redknapp coach QPR, is probably an outsider.

All of those men would be an improvement on Di Canio, but the question is whether Short can lure any of them north. That’s part of the reason the timing of this move was so crucial. If Sunderland  continued dropping points, it would have been more difficult to convince a quality boss to board a sinking ship. Five matches into the season, there’s still time to turn things around.

Whomever Short tabs will be responsible for answering the question on many American soccer fans’ minds: What does this mean for Jozy Altidore? The U.S.’s first choice number nine was relegated to the bench on Saturday, with Di Canio electing to start Steven Fletcher and Fabio Borini. With Fletcher separating his shoulder at The Hawthorns, Altidore looked set to resume a first-choice spot, but if the new boss goes to a one-front, Fletcher, Altidore, and Borini will be fighting for one spot. Those wouldn’t be good odds for a man who started this weekend on the bench, and even if the new coach persists with a two-forward set, does Altidore beat-out one of the other two? You’d think so, but every man sees their players differently.

Ten months out from the World Cup, Altidore and the U.S. will be particularly interested in whom Short tab to succeed Di Canio. Given the options, however, Sunderland almost certainly made the right move.

  1. medic0nduty - Sep 22, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    As much as I don’t know how well it would work, I think it would be nice to see Di Matteo back in the Premiership with a new team after his unlucky run with Chelsea last season.

  2. 48me - Sep 22, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    The managerial uncertainty at Sunderland was the main reason so many US fans were, um, aghast at Altidore signing with the Black Cats over the summer. I mean, who didn’t foresee this train wreck happening?

    On the plus side, with Fletcher getting injured again, Jozy should still get a good shot at establishing himself as Sunderland’s striker. I mean, Borini really isn’t that good as we all saw at LFC last year.

    On the minus side, I’m not convinced that either Di Matteo or Gus Poyet (the 2 guys tabbed as being most likely to snag the permanent managerial position) are they right guys to recognize and further develop Jozy’s talents.

  3. hildezero - Sep 23, 2013 at 1:23 AM

    Jozy is gonna have a job to do to get that starting role. Fletcher is gonna be a challenge, but not Borini. He’s not that good of a player. It’ll come down to Jozy and Fletcher, but I won’t be surprised if the new coach decides to start Fletcher.

  4. 48me - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:56 AM

    Fletcher’s good, but I thought I read he broke his shoulder or something like that over the weekend, which would buy Jozy a chance to prove himself to the new manager(s).

    • midtec2005 - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:08 AM

      Says in the article a separated shoulder. You would think that would keep him out for atleast a couple weeks more.

  5. randomhandle1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Wasn’t Jozy coming off a week of a sore hamstring and limited training?

    I mean, sure, all bets are off with a new manager anyway, but some context is probably helpful in understanding why Di Canio had him “relegated to the bench” this past weekend.

  6. godsholytrousers - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    Jozy should fire his agent, then fire him again, and then fire him one more time for good measure.

    I knew then, and have been proven correct, Sunderland will be relegated faster than Hull, and Jozy will be blamed.

    What a horrible decision to go to a bottom dweller on the end of their Prem League ride.

    • mikeymo74 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      Jozy wanted to get playing time in a top league, so Sunderland was his only option. No other team in a top league would start him.

    • cashtext4all.com - Sep 27, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      From what I ‘ve understood, Sunderland was the only “major team” after Jozy. The other serious team who were willing to meet AZ Akmaar asking price were in Eastern Europe countries like Russia and Ukraine. Jozy had ruled out these countries because of extreme racism.

      Altidore will have a major challenge to fend off Fletcher once he gets back in a month, and unless he starts scoring goals, he’ll be on the bench.

      From watching the Sunderland matches, Jozy needs to improve his movement and attack balls crossed into the box with more aggressivness and intent. He’s way too tall and big not to attack these balls.

  7. godsholytrousers - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    Anybody paying attention sees that Jozy Altidore can score if given service and has proven that in the Netherlands and for the US National Team.

    On the other hand, teams that are fighting the loss of their manager, and a certain relegation battle will tend to bunker in the box and hope for the best. They’ll look for players that can run around, huff and puff, and play attacking forward at the edge of their own penalty box. The “death spiral” of a team on the drop. Too afraid to venture forward, the financial penalty too large a burden to bare.

    Jozy Altidore was a fool to leave the Netherlands for a horrible Sunderland side that is on the downside of a poor Prem run. Teams make it out of the second division and then drop back in cycles. Not enough cash or talent to remain up, not enough daring to bring an attacking intent to the field. Doomed to failure.

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