Monday, September 5, 2011
ESPNsoccernet: September 6, 4:45 PM UK
Di Canio, McClaren and the ginger Messi
Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.
Di Canio delivering
There's no question who the main attraction is in League Two this season. Paolo Di Canio managed to combine being a hot-headed, referee-pushing nutcase and a cultured, scissor-kicking bastion of fair play in his life on the pitch in England. His career in management is promising to deliver more of the same.
Last week, Di Canio hit the headlines after a bust-up with striker Leon Clarke played out in front of the television cameras. The striker refused to follow Di Canio's orders by the touchline and the pair continued their heated altercation in the tunnel. Di Canio has since said Clarke will never play for him again. "We work hard; he didn't want to work. He is an absolutely lazy person," he said.
Next up for Swindon were league leaders Rotherham, who came to the County Ground unbeaten. This time Di Canio began his performance before the game when he addressed Swindon's stuttering start to the season by promising to deliver a revolution in Wiltshire. "All revolutions take time," he said. "The French Revolution, the American; five years, ten years, 20 years."
Di Canio's side duly beat Rotherham 3-2, in a game that saw two red cards and delivered just about everything. It was Di Canio's decision to bring on Alan Connell that proved the turning point - the substitute scoring twice to win the game and put his manager's name in the first paragraph of every match report. Expect it to stay there all season.
Introducing 'the ginger Messi'
Sheffield United beat Bury 4-0 on Saturday, and find themselves level with MK Dons at the top of League One after six games. Danny Wilson's team are earning plaudits from all corners and Blades fans who suffered a woeful campaign last season are well on the way to forgiving their new manager for his Sheffield Wednesday past.
Stephen Quinn is the man pulling the strings in United's midfield. The left-footed playmaker has been dubbed "the ginger Messi" by a journalist in the Bramall Lane press office, and the Irishman turned on the style against Bury. Much like Messi himself, Quinn loves a dummy and a snaking dribble. He's also somewhat of a free-kick expert.
"He has started the season like a whirlwind, he has been brilliant," Wilson said after the game.
Teething problems for Mac-tracking Schteeve
Steve McClaren's bright white veneers have been lighting up the back pages again after reports emerged he was ready to quit Nottingham Forest. Virtually every paper in the nation went with the story, which was almost certainly from the horse's mouth - only for the man formerly known as 'Schteeve' to deny he said anything of the sort.
"Contrary to reports, it has never been my intention to consider leaving. I am certainly no quitter and I am as enthusiastic about the task as I was when I arrived in Nottingham in June," McClaren said.
We don't believe him, and we're not the only ones. After watching his team lose 4-1 at home to West Ham last week, McClaren issued a transfer deadline day ultimatum to the board. "We'll know the ambitions of the club in the next few days," he said. "The club now has a choice because nobody gets a promotion unless we keep clean sheets ... I've been patient so far - frustrated behind the scenes but patient."
McClaren's team had won just one from five and were languishing 18th in the Championship. They needed reinforcements badly, and you can only assume investment in players was part of the attraction to McClaren when he took the job at the City Ground. But deadline day passed with no new additions, and with Forest's summer spending stuck at the £2 million they threw at Ishmael Miller and Jonathan Greening.
McClaren was powerless. As highlighted by ESPNsoccernet's Robin Hackett on Friday, Forest use a 'transfer acquisitions panel' to bring in new players and they failed to do the business on deadline day. After just 11 weeks in the job, reports suggested he was on the verge of walking away, fearing for the reputation he went a long way to re-building with FC Twente in the Netherlands, and having come to the realisation he wasn't being listened to at Forest. But somehow Forest talked him round.
"As with all new relationships there are teething problems and some frustrations, but they are ones that can be overcome," managing director Mark Arthur said, clearly influenced in his choice of words by endless visions of McClaren's pearly whites. Only time will tell of course, but unless Forest show some ambition in the loan market, it's a marriage that will do well to make it to Christmas.
Blackpool fans are spoilt
This week's 'telling it like it is' award goes to a man will surely feature again many times before the season is over - Ian Holloway. The Blackpool manager was seriously frustrated at the club's lack of activity in the transfer market this summer. He was even more frustrated at the fans who took the opportunity to criticise the club.
"We had a bit of a disaster on deadline day," Holloway said. "The truth is that it was really frustrating. This was the worst one I've ever been involved with.
"Do people not realise Blackpool shouldn't even have got to the Premier League, considering the budget we were on? The club might never get there again, so I think the fans have been spoilt and that's why I don't like some of the things I read."
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