Is Paolo Di Canio a serious candidate for West Ham?

News is breaking on the wire that Paolo Di Canio has officially thrown his name in the hat to be the new West Ham boss. A fans favourite, Di Canio’s name will probably receive some love on the terraces. But from a head ruling the heart standpoint, the Hammers would be taking on a massive risk by giving the fiery Italian his first hand at top flight management.

Aside from his playing career at Upton Park, which was epitomised by his glorious goal against Wimbeldon and his solo goal against Manchester United, the case for Di Canio seems wafer thin.

Perhaps the best argument is to use Roy Keane’s foray into management as a prime example of how a bad boy footballer can come good as a manager in the Premier League. Without question both Keane and Di Canio had a long rapsheet at the conclusion of their playing days, yet that fact in and of itself does not determine how good a manager a person can be.

However Di Canio’s larger than life personality and track-record arguably leaves some serious black marks against his candidacy. While religion and politics should not play a part in football, Di Canio’s right wing history does leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Ironically, the bookies’ front-runner, Slaven Bilic, is also well known for his right wing politics, but what differentiates the Croatian from the Italian is that only Di Canio has delivered the Fascist salute in public.

Then there must also be some serious questions about Di Canio’s leadership qualities. It is hard to shake off the image of Di Canio pushing over Paul Alcock. Its equally hard to shake off the fact that Di Canio missed out the majority of the 2003/04 season after falling out with Glenn Roeder after going public with his anger at being substituted in a match against West Brom. Di Canio was 34 at the time.

From a neutral perspective however, should Di Canio get the nod it would mean that yet another wonderful character will once again be in the Premier League. No-one can fault the Italian’s passion – he may be wrong, but he goes down fighting for what he believes in. Maybe, just maybe, it is that inner confidence which could see Di Canio become the next best manager to forge a reputation for himself, however unexpected that may be.

Video evidence of the playing career of Paolo Di Canio can be seen here.

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