TIME for a straw poll – has the openness gone too far?

One of the most endearing and intriguing factors of the Paolo Di Canio era at Swindon Town has been the Italian’s willingness to speak his mind or speak the truth – however you’d rather put it.

That has given itself to countless thousands of words of opinion and debate, a revealing insight into the mind of a rookie, unorthodox and tactically astute manager who has his own steadfast ways of doing things.

At first it was shocking, a break from the norm, a refreshing change to the mundane routine of monotonous and monosyllabic press conferences – both pre and post-match.

Cliches were cast aside like the previous year’s Christmas presents, replaced instead by a string of complicated and unconventional analogies - some of which made sense, others which required a Di Canio-English dictionary to translate.

We’ve had Chihuahuas and coach drivers, caged lions and sex with ageing pop stars – a plethora of anecdotes designed by a mercurial footballing talent finding his groove in the managerial game.

But the analogies only scratched the surface. They were the warm-up act, the tray of sugar-coated doughnuts laid on by an employer about to announce a fresh batch of redundancies.

For Di Canio’s openness has not only been entertaining, it has also been damning and controversial.

I don’t know Italian football, and I’m hardly an expert on Italian culture, so perhaps it would be best to leave the analysis to Serie A pundits and anthropologists. Perhaps the brutal criticism of Wes Foderingham, Aden Flint and Paul Caddis is a justifiable method in the pursuit of excellence. Maybe the blunt back-chat directed at his superiors is too.

Who am I to argue with the cold hard facts? Town under Di Canio have won more than they’ve lost, secured a league title, been to Wembley for a cup final and beaten Premiership teams home and away.

And the club obviously don’t mind the way he’s washed plenty of his dirty laundry in public, else surely they would have acted to censor their manager.

So, does it really matter that the man in charge of our local team chooses to act as he does?

Maybe not.

This is where, it appears to me, supporters are divided. Some care only about results and performances, and that is a totally legitimate and logical stance to take.

Others, however, take what I would term a more community-centric position. Of course they too want to see victories and dazzling football – two areas where Di Canio has gone above and beyond the call of duty when you take into consideration the dross we’ve been served up at the County Ground down the years – but they want to see the club progress as one single entity.

That means unity not faction, cooperation not public slanging matches. They want the club they have supported for a lifetime to represent a local ideology.

Perhaps that is a pipe-dream that doesn’t exist in football’s modern age. Perhaps I am talking a load of romanticised bull***t.

However, under Di Canio it seems that the warm sense of community that saw this club out of administration twice, guided it through scandal and controversy and squeezed its hand as it produced an embarrassing poverty of quality on the pitch, has cooled a little.

That’s not to say the fervour on a matchday is not the same. If anything it’s intensified. That is a different point entirely.

I mean this – we talk about a three-year plan constantly, but what happens after? When Di Canio leaves, as one day he will, where do we turn? What do we think?

Has the openness gone too far? You decide.

- HUGE congratulations to Miles Storey, who’ll be joining up with the England Under 19 squad after Swindon Town’s game against Walsall today.
He’s making remarkable strides but at the same time is unbelievably grounded for a lad of his age.

When you talk to him you’d think he’d been around the block for several years. He articulates perfectly where he thinks he is in his development, what he needs to do to continue improving and where he hopes to end up in the future.

I don’t think he’s one to lose a grip on reality just yet, as so many youngsters who enjoy rapid success do in football today.

He’s definitely got the raw ability, family background and emotional stability to play at a high level, and I don’t think it’s detrimental in the slightest to suggest that.

If anything, it should spur him on to realise his own potential.
Good luck to him. He’s not only succeeding for himself, he’s an ambassador for the club and a fillip for the youth system at Swindon.

-I THINK Roy Hodgson’s missed a trick.

In naming his squad for the upcoming friendly with Sweden he failed to include the man who’s scored more goals than Messi and Ronaldo, Rooney and Van Persie, Aguero and Ibrahimovic, Eto’o and Falcao this season.

Charlie Austin’s ridiculous campaign, during which it seems he’s scoring quicker than a millionaire in a brothel, has left him the continent’s most prolific striker. Yet he doesn’t warrant a call-up?

Come on Roy, give the lad a chance. If Jay Boothroyd and David Nugent deserved international caps under your predecessors then Mr Austin is more than worthy.

And it might add a few pounds to the Swindon Town bank account in the process. Not that that’s got anything to do with it!

-SPOOKY goings-on in the world of cycling this week. First, Bradley Wiggins gets knocked off his bike in Manchester.

The next day Great Britain’s head coach Shane Sutton suffers the same fate less than 20 miles from the scene of the Tour De France champion’s accident.

I’ve not seen any conclusive evidence, but I’m inclined to blame Lance Armstrong.