Luigi De Canio had six months at the helm of Queens Park Rangers Football Club, the following is a brief account of his time in W12.
Following the sacking of John Gregory, there was speculation in the air. Rangers owners Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone were looking for a manager for the first phase of the project alluded to on several occasions. Mick Harford, still doing sterling work holding the fort on the management side. was doing his very best to drag the R`s away from the perilous drop zone.
Names such as former Palermo boss Francesco Guidolin, then Hibernian boss John Collins, and then unnatatched Paul Jewell were in the fray to replace Gregory. With a reported knockback from Guidolin and the other two still merely rumours, Luigi De Canio emerged as front runner and the former Udinese, Napoli and Siena boss was promptly given the job following the R`s memorable win against Charlton at the Valley. He stated:
‘I am very excited at this fantastic opportunity to join Queens Park Rangers as their First Team Coach.”
‘For me, it will be an honour to work for Queens Park Rangers, a Club which is backed by Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, two businessmen with an incredible track-record of success in sport and other fields.”
‘I would like to thank them and tell them I will not disappoint their expectations. I am fully committed to the project and I am looking forward to getting to work with the players in preparation for our forthcoming home fixture against Hull City on Saturday.’.
De Canio got straight to work dispatching of Hull City 2-0 at Loftus Road who must be getting sick and tired of the new manager syndrome at Loftus Road. A subsequent dip in form ensued with Rangers unable to pick up a win in 7 and spiralling their way back into perilous danger. But over the Christmas period there were memorable away wins at Burnley, which had myself along with the travelling 242 rubbing their eyes in disbelief; also that glorious day in Watford where the R`s took apart promotion chasing Hornets 4-2 at the Vic.
Getting a first victory over Olly, the R`s went from strength to strength, and to their credit put in an admirable performance against cup holders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, who were themselves later put out by Barnsley. There were also memorable home wins against Barnsley, Bristol City and Stoke City as Loftus Road became a real fortress at the back end of the season.
De Canio, or Gigi as he was affectionately coined by the fans, finished off with back to back defeats against Norwich City and Champions West Bromwich Albion. But his passion and enthusiasm for the cause on the touchline, despite his evident lack of English was admirable, alongside him Gareth Ainsworth, the original odd couple on the touchline.
His contempt at times for officiating in England was epitomised by his comments following the West Brom game:
‘We prepared all week for this match and his decision completely changed the game,’
‘He wasn’t up to refereeing the game today and that’s just not good enough.”
‘Personally I feel very offended by the way he conducted himself. His performance was very poor. He was offensive to us, West Brom and the Championship.”
‘His mediocrity was thoroughly convincing today.’
Never one to tread the line when it came to officiating, it seemed his comments had landed him in some hot water with the F.A. set to discuss his comments, but upon leaving the cynic amongst us may say he knew very well what he was saying.
However contrast this with the words in Saturday`s match day programme:
“The whole experience has been very enjoyable and I am already looking forward to the start of the new campaign”
This begs the question as to whether Gigi knew his task was done before the West Bromwich Albion game, or whether it was indeed a spur of the moment decision by Messers Briatore and Ecclestone.
Either way Vital QPR would like to place on record its thanks for not only some memorable QPR displays, but also for the brand of football purported during the tenure of Luigi De Canio.
GIGI DE CANIO, BERNIE AND FLAVIO
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