Anorak

Anorak | Do Or Di Canio

Do Or Di Canio

by | 19th, September 2002

‘ALAN Hansen says that, by the time he had won his seventh title in 10 years as a Liverpool player, he and the rest the team had almost grown tired of success.

”Manchester? It’s what way?”

Sure they did the lap of honour, but the cup was tossed that little bit lower into the air. He says that nothing matched the emotions of that first championship medal.

The first one is always the best one, but one cannot help but think that if Manchester United do win the Premiership title this season the celebrations on the pitch will be explosive.

The team are in the doldrums, and even a 5-2 victory over an Israeli team cannot hide that. Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-seeing eye has been distracted from the team and onto his captain’s book and his racehorse.

But for the first time in a while United are not favourites to lift the trophy. That honour goes to Arsenal, and with it goes the baggage of expectation. And only United have shown in recent seasons that they can deal with the added pressure of being the team everyone wants to beat.

So United come as underdogs. Granted, they are not of the mongrel variety, and are blessed with pedigree features from back to front, but underdogs nonetheless.

And if Ferguson can instil in them that realisation, and the attitude that they are on the way down and Arsenal are the team to shoot at, he may get recapture the fighting spirit that seems to have deserted the team of late.

To do it Ferguson needs to restore that belligerent swagger that Eric Cantona brought to his side. Keane has the mouth and the aggression, but winners need something more.

In Rio Ferdinand, Ferguson has an able player but not a man blessed with great charisma. In Van Nistelrooy, he has another man who does a perfunctory job but does it without the style of a born winner.

In Veron, he has a player who still looks unable to comprehend how he ended up playing under the grey skies of Lancashire and is not still bathing in the Roman sunshine.

And it goes much the same way through the team. United are high on skill but low on charisma. David Beckham does have a certain allure, but it comes more to the way he looks than the way he plays.

Beckham, good a player as he is, is a tryer. Aside from the epic freekicks, he has yet to set grounds alight with moments of sublime skill and touch.

So how can United get the added zest they need? How? By once more showing an interest in Paolo Di Canio. Di Canio is getting on in years, but he possesses an infectious enthusiasm that makes you look more at the man and less at his game.

Fans overlook the invisible moments, the games without a goal, and dwell instead on the magic. And if fans do it so do other players. Opposition defenders develop a fear factor. They are expecting the unexpected and in doing so often get beaten by the simple.

But Di Canio probably won’t go north. Ferguson no longer buys players with panache, choosing instead to buy solid and reliable pros, and pay dearly for them.

But if he did look once more to east London, how fabulous the celebrations would be as the cup goes to Old Trafford on the season’s final day? Why, even the fans might get excited.



Posted: 19th, September 2002 | In: Back pages Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink