In his first week as manager, Paolo Di Canio has dedicated himself to making Sunderland the greatest club in the country. At a press conference in the town square, with a turnout of a size rarely seen since the Nuremberg rallies, Di Canio vowed that Sunderland will prevail - not just for the current Premier League campaign, but “for a thousand years”.
The huge crowd - a solid mass of humanity, extending all the way from Poundland to Cash Converters - raised a mighty cheer and expressed their undying love for the man they call ‘Il Duce’, before the manager’s henchmen waded in with batons and silenced them.
Flanked by uniformed members of the club’s backroom staff, the new manager addressed the throng from the town hall balcony. “I haven’t come to play Liverpool or Manchester United”, he said, “I have come to destroy them. Sunderland will rise; our enemies will be vanquished.”
The club will stop at nothing, the ‘unique one’ said, to achieve its ambitions. The players know it's "win at all costs", or expect a bullet in the back of the head, while off the pitch a phalanx of accountants and stockbrokers is working tirelessly to destabilise the share price of any clubs that stand in their way.
The quest for supremacy will start with next Saturday’s away game against Chelsea, when Sunderland will launch a savage assault on the headquarters of the effete London club by a battalion of stormtroopers. The following week’s clash, with local rivals Newcastle, at St James’s Park, will be “all-out war”, with a brutal ‘scorched earth’ strategy replacing the more customary 4-4-2. The “annihilation” of the ‘toon army’ would “right an ancient wrong”, Di Canio declared. “After ninety minutes St James’s Park will be a wasteland”. For Spurs, he said, chillingly, the solution would be “final”.
The parade ended with martial music, the public garotting of a dissident referee and the now-traditional, stiff-armed salute by the man who promises to lead the Wearside club out of mid-table mediocrity and on to glory. In a final display of braggadocio, Di Canio tore up his contract and declared himself “manager for life”...