Philosophy change key to Giaccherini’s Sunderland success
It is not a common trait to travel, let alone permanently move camp, from the scenic city of Turin to, well, Sunderland.
Yet Emanuele Giaccherini has seen the Stadium of Light this summer and left Serie A champions Juventus, where he made 17 league appearances last season, to join the Paolo Di Canio revolution in the north of England.
Surprising as the move originally was, it comes as more of a shock when you consider the 28-year-old’s performances at the Confederations Cup earlier in the off-season. Giaccherini was praised for his energetic movement in-behind Mario Balotelli and scored a wonderful goal against hosts Brazil.
But the €7.5 million move to Sunderland went largely unchallenged and, Premier League enthusiasts at least, will be encouraged by such an unorthodox move to one of the league’s relegation scrappers last season.
A relegation battle is what Di Canio will be aiming to avoid naturally this season. The Italian coach is taking the saying ‘out with the old, in with the new’ to whole new levels this summer as the Stadium of Light revolving door goes into overdrive.
Giaccherini, one of eight high-profile signings so far, is arguably the most exciting arrival. Expected to slot in on the left of an attacking trio that includes Stephane Sessegnon and Adam Johnson, Giaccherini can expect to rack up more than the 10 starts he achieved last season.
While Di Canio is clearly intent on changing Sunderland’s playing squad, a change in philosophy will have to follow in order for the midfielder to settle in to Black Cat life. The most impressive weapon in the Giaccherini’s armoury is his passing ability.
“In my opinion he’s one of the best players in Europe to suit my system,” said Paolo Di Canio
“There are not many wingers with his intelligence or ability to interpret the role.”
Giaccherini made on average 37.4 passes last season, 1.9 key passes a game, compared to Adam Johnson’s 27.4 passes in 35 appearances. The Italian also boasts an impressively high 87.9% pass accuracy rate and is renowned for his cushioned layoffs and threaded through balls.
Yet the Premier League crowds, especially those watching teams in the bottom half of the league, don’t have the patience, some would say intelligence, to applaud accurate passing build-up play. Giaccherini will need to display hard work and an ability to tackle, especially in 50-50 situations.
Hard work is not a concept uncommon to the 28-year old. He spent a chunk of time in Italy’s fourth tier and major injuries have often threatened his career. A dream move to Juventus in 2011 rewarded his drive.
On a more specific level for the Sunderland faithful, the Italian won 78% of his tackles last season in Serie A but was miserable when it came to competing in the air. Somebody better tell Wes Brown to keep those long diagonal balls to a minimum.
As far as Giaccherini’s future is concerned, a shift in Mackem philosophy is certainly essential to the midfielder’s success in English football.
With regards to Giaccherini’s past, he leaves behind the Serie A champions where he struggled to find a place due to Antonio Conte’s formation preferences.
And with the arrival of strikers Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente in this window, Conte is showing no signs of changing his two-up-top system. At the age of 28, a move to pastures new was not just desirable but necessary for Giaccherini.
It is necessary for his national team pursuit to continue. As mentioned earlier, Giaccherini featured for the Azzurri in the Confederations Cup; more specifically he made five out of five appearances, scoring one goal.
His Confederations Cup stint becomes more telling when you learn that Giaccherini had only 9 national appearances to his name prior to the tournament in Brazil. His energetic, revitalising performances throughout that competition not only transformed him from a rejected Bianconeri to notable inclusion, but will keep him in Cesare Prandelli’s thoughts over the next 12 months.
At Sunderland, the Italian will most definitely add more playing time to his application for inclusion in next year’s World Cup squad. Playing in the Premier League, where the right attitude is lauded, will certainly enhance the professional ethics Prandelli admires so much in the 5ft 6in player.
Emanuele Giaccherini’s plight in English football will have to buck the trend of Italian’s in the Premier League and a change in philosophy from Paolo Di Canio is most definitely required. Yet the spirit and determination he already possesses, as well as his eye for a pass and purposeful engine, mean the opportunity to succeed at Sunderland is certainly there.