‘Two-faced’, ‘rotten’ gibes at Sunderland players show Di Canio unsuitable for another Premier League job

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Given a player revolt helped see Paolo Di Canio out of Sunderland, the motivations of the former Black Cats’ boss are clear. That he can’t stifle those motivations and see his career’s bigger picture speaks to why he failed in his first Premier League job. It also casts doubts on whether he’s suitable for a second.

Speaking to English media on Sunday, the 45-year-old former West Ham United attacker called  Lee Cattermole and Phil Bardsley “the most unprofessional players” he’d every worked with. He labeled John O’Shea “two-faced” and criticized striker Steven Fletcher for smiling in training. While claiming text messages show he had the support for up to 14 members of the Sunderland squad (a group perhaps largely made up of players he helped acquired this in this summer), Di Canio says the “weak” mentality of his former squad keeps Sunderland in a relegation battle.

The Guardian has more on comments that follow reports Di Canio called Sunderland’s players “cowards,” starting a weekend fit that’s cast the embittered Italian back in the spotlight. Strident, outspoken, and politically controversial, Di Canio never has trouble drawing the media’s attention, but doing so to belittle his former players only highlights why he’s so unsuitable for another top-level assignment.

To Di Canio, O’Shea’s apologizes to his teammates after criticizing them to their manager makes him two-faced. To others, that would indicate a level of openness, even sympathy. Not allowing Steven Fletcher to smile on the training pitch hints Di Canio can’t conceive of a player able to adequately prepare himself while having fun. And criticisms of Phil Bardsley’s now infamous casino pictures portray a man unable to reconcile off-field flaws with a potential to help a club on the field.

This is far too rigid of an approach for a man who wants another job managing immature men, usually from a variety of different countries, some of whom have spent their lives living free of real-life adversity thanks to their physical talents. It hints at a lack of respect for anybody who approaches the world in a different way than his own. Being open with teammates, smiling while training, and being photographed rolling in £50 bills aren’t debilitating character flaws. They’re signs of kindness, whimsy, and an immature, potentially temporary lack of perspective.

A manager should be expected to overcome all of these obstacles. They’re amongst the smaller challenges he’ll face during his employment. If Di Canio can’t navigate these issues without eventually circling back and branding his former players unprofessional and cowardly, why should another club expect him to employ a more viable approach with their team?

Daly collapses during match, treated for heat illness

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HOUSTON (AP) Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly collapsed during the final minute of a National Women’s Soccer League match against the Seattle Reign as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

The 25-year-old Daly was stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital, where the team said she was being treated for heat illness.

The temperature at BBVA Compass Stadium was 92 degrees at the 3 p.m. kickoff. The Reign won 2-0.

[ MORE: Perisic talking with Man Utd? ]

The NWSL issued a statement that said the league had worked with the Dash before the season to schedule any afternoon games early in the year to help avoid heat issues. The teams took a hydration break late in the match.

“We will immediately review these measures to prevent this situation from occurring in the future,” the statement said.

Reign coach Laura Harvey posted to Twitter: “Proud of the team today. Some of the hottest conditions I’ve seen. Road games are tough but that was crazy.”

MLS roundup: Outrageous dive, posts doom ‘Caps; Ramirez stays red hot

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Six matches are in the books on a busy Saturday in Major League Soccer, and five of them finished 1-0.

How they got there? Much different stories. With the Cali Clasico still to play, let’s dig into the five that followed Seattle 1-0 Portland.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]


Vancouver Whitecaps 0-1 DC United

It’s especially difficult to win on the road in Major League Soccer, unless the hosts fritter away four good chances off the woodwork — including a Cristian Techera PK — and give away a spot kick of their own. Lamar Neagle converted the 61st offering after a sinister dive from Jose Guillermo Ortiz. He was taken off soon after, and is probably going to miss sometime when the DisCo is done with him. Outrageous.

New York Red Bulls 2-1 New England Revolution

Not one, not two, nor three, but four New England players saw a low cross slide by them for Daniel Royer to finish as New York came from behind to take all three points at Red Bull Arena. Cody Cropper committed a gaffe that allowed Bradley Wright-Phillips to equalize after a Lee Nguyen PK had put the Revs ahead early.

Colorado Rapids 1-0 Sporting KC

Homegrown defender and University of Denver product Kortne Ford has his first MLS goal, as the Rapids surprised the Western Conference leaders on Saturday. SKC outshot Colorado by nearly 20 attempts (Shoulder shrug emoji).

Minnesota United 1-0 Orlando City

There were questions as to whether NASL superstar Christian Ramirez could translate his game to Major League Soccer.

Yes. The answer is yes.

Ramirez has eight goals in 13 MLS matches, and should be hearing his name from a certain Bruce Arena around Gold Cup time. Those USMNT dreams of last season should come true.

Bobby Shuttleworth made six saves for his third shutout of the season. All have come at home.

Real Salt Lake 1-0 Philadelphia Union

Joao Plata keeps shooting, and the tiny Ecuadorian menace keeps scoring, too. His 36th minute goal was enough for the hosts at Rio Tinto.

Raiola: Zlatan to “100 percent” stay in Europe for two seasons

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be 35 and coming off major knee surgery, but that isn’t stopping suitors from lining up across Europe.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]

Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola, says that MLS is not an option for the Swede over the next two seasons. From Sky Sports:

“Many clubs have asked for Zlatan. He can play two more years and will stay in Europe, 100 per cent.”

It would make sense for Ibrahimovic to stay around Manchester United, where he is admired by Jose Mourinho and coming off a season that showed he’s still capable of contributing at a high level.

But he remains beloved in Italy, and would be effective for most clubs in the Top 5 leagues should he return at even 75 percent of the Zlatan we’ve seen regularly.

Report: Manchester United, Inter Milan keen on Perisic deal

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Manchester United wants Ivan Perisic, and both the player and his current club are all about it.

Perisic, 28, is ready to leave Inter Milan, and the Serie A mainstays are happy to accept $46 million for his services according to Sky Sports.

[ MORE: No China for Costa ]

Primarily a left winger, Perisic moved to Inter from Wolfsburg at the start of the 2015-16 season. He scored 10 goals and added nine assists in Serie A play this season, and has kept up his production pace since moving from the Bundesliga to Italy.

United needs stars and depth for its Champions League campaign, and Perisic would buttress an attack with Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan amongst others. He was a difference maker for Croatia at EURO 2016, and can do the same at Old Trafford.