Don’t blame Chris Martin, Paolo

Swindon boss Paolo Di Canio is not one for holding back his emotions - and at the weekend he was venting his frustration on Norwich City's on-loan striker Chris Martin. Swindon boss Paolo Di Canio is not one for holding back his emotions - and at the weekend he was venting his frustration on Norwich City's on-loan striker Chris Martin.

Thursday, November 29, 2012
3:22 PM

One of the curiosities of Chris Martin’s career – apart from the fact that his early promise hasn’t produced a valuable Norwich City regular at the top level – is the player’s ‘body language’.

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It’s always been a personal view that Martin was the victim of idle gossip. Body language is applicable if it is obvious: if your other half raises his or her eyebrows a significant distance above their normal position, you know you’ve just said something you shouldn’t have done. Hands on hips, shrugs, a slap of the palm on forehead.

I don’t recall seeing Martin do any of these things. Instead, the way he moves around a football pitch, the actual, physical process, gives the impression more of laziness. Which it clearly isn’t. Saying his body language is wrong is a cop-out. Saying he’s lazy is just incorrect.

Both comments have followed him around for years, ever since Peter Grant put him in his struggling and injury-hit side in the early weeks of 2007 and then watched (with some surprise I’ll bet) as the boy from Beccles starting popping in the goals that kept the Championship relegation door at a safer distance than it might otherwise have been.

Glenn Roeder just lost patience and packed him off to Luton, part of the infamous Tweedledee and Tweedledum experiment also involving Michael Spillane which, effectively, got him shot of a couple of kids he couldn’t control. Martin did well at Luton, and when he came back he was a 23-goal scorer in the League One championship team under Paul Lambert.

But while Lambert always described his finishing skills in glowing terms, four goals in 21 starts in the Championship wasn’t good enough and Martin joined the loan circuit – time at Crystal Palace last season and now a short stint at Swindon, under the colourful and rather volatile Paolo Di Canio.

The baggage that is his “body language” appears to have followed him, with Di Canio laying into Martin (and fellow loan player Danny Hollands) after the 1-0 defeat at Notts County at the weekend.

“It’s obvious that now, when you bring in players like Chris Martin and Danny Hollands, I was clear with them today,” said Di Canio. “I know body language. I want to know if this is what they can give to me.

“When you bring in players you have to be lucky that they care about the cause straight away. They arrived 10 days ago and to be honest I was very, very unhappy today in the way they affected the game. It’s obvious I have to discover them, I have to know them.”

That is clearly verbatim, but the message isn’t clear, because at no point does Di Canio say it’s his fault.

Because it is. Di Canio signed Martin, no one else.

Perhaps he just believes that “body language” means bad attitude, lazy, couldn’t care less.

Had that truly been the case, I suspect Martin would be playing at a club much further down the league ladder: lazy players get found out, and Martin isn’t a lazy player; he just looks sometimes as if he is.

Maybe Martin needn’t worry too much: I searched Google to get the exact quotes and the headlines for Di Canio stories on the first page included:

• Di Canio blasts officials after defeat

• Di Canio hails County keeper – but questions forwards

• Di Canio still not happy

• Paolo Di Canio ‘unhappy’ with Swindon chairman comments

• Di Canio blasts players’ attitude

• Di Canio furious with lacklustre Robins

• Di Canio wants to fine his entire team

Good luck, Chris.


I can’t work out what Joey Barton was thinking when he resorted to a ’Allo ’Allo style accent when conducting a press conference after a game for his loan club, Olympique de Marseille (or should that be just plain old Marseille?).

Barton can come across as daft, stupid, cantankerous, offensive – just about any description fits – but read what he writes and it is clear he has an intelligence that would be the envy of many of his colleagues.

Perhaps Barton’s tongue was so firmly in his cheek it hampered his diction. Or maybe he was doing what Steve McClaren did in a similar situation, but with a Dutch twang, and simply making it easier for the local media to understand what he was saying. Had Barton spoken in his usual Liverpool accent would the French media have understood?

I’ve seen it happen with Chinese colleagues from a previous life: prepositions and conjunctions were abandoned because they were superfluous and just made conversations more difficult. Had I given them best Fen, we’d have got nowhere fast. It was quite funny attempting to get messages back and forth, but I always felt the Chinese were a lot cleverer than you could imagine.

Bit like our Joey.