It’s a huge weekend for… Di Canio, Villa, QPR and Adkins
Paolo Di Canio
There has been far too plenty spouted about Paolo Di Canio’s appointment this week, but whatever your thoughts on the fashion of fascism, in footballing terms it was clear that a change was needed at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland are winless in eight games, which includes fixtures against QPR, Reading, Norwich and Aston Villa. That’s a dismal run under O’Neill that was seeing the club limp towards relegation.
What Di Canio does offer is passion, sweat and tears, and he will demand every ounce of effort from his players. Given that their run in contains games against Spurs, Newcastle, Chelsea and Everton, it remains to be seen whether mad passion is enough to keep Sunderland up.
At half-time last Sunday, Villa were three points outside the relegation zone, and a place behind Newcastle. 45 minutes later and they sat with just QPR and Reading below them, signs of a recovery undermined once again.
Given that Aston Villa travel to Wigan on the last day, it is not far-fetched to think that Paul Lambert’s side may need to gain four points on their rivals if they are to avoid a last-day nerve-shredder. And that is without factoring QPR potentially getting back into things (see below).
For that to occur, Villa have to travel to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday aiming for an away victory, because nothing else may do. With three away wins since February, now would be a good time to step up.
Cutting the crap about the second half recovery and a match lost solely to individual errors, the facts speak for themselves. QPR have gained 19 points in 19 games since Harry Redknapp took over, and despite their winter splurge sit further from safety than the time of his appointment.
There is still a nagging doubt that Redknapp’s side are down just yet, die to a) the resources within his playing squad, b) the relative ease of their run in and c) the paucity of quality in the bottom third of the Premier League currently.
However, if QPR are to get the 14 points ‘Arry thinks they need, Wigan at home is a must win. It seems crazy that should they do so, Rangers could be just four points from safety.
A horrible first fixture, but the fact remains that Nigel Adkins took a job that was Premier League in current name only, and he will be a Championship manager come June.
After seeing little to nothing to provide positivity at the Emirates last weekend, a first home game becomes rather important. And it’s against his former club. And it’s on the television.