Thrill seekers are spoiled for choice. They can cliff dive in Acapulco, pilot a microlight over Mount Everest, or row naked across the Atlantic.

If they’re feeling especially frisky, they can buy a football club, and appoint Paolo Di Canio as manager.

Nothing comes close, in terms of exquisite uncertainty. The frisson of danger, in giving authority to someone so convinced of his invincibility, could fire up the National Grid.

Frankly, I hope Sunderland owner Ellis Short knows what he is doing.

The culture of the club needed to change and an opening day home defeat to Fulham masked signs of progress.

Di Canio has been the cartoon sergeant major, banning everything from carbonated drinks to mobile phones."

The disciplining of the consistently crass Phil Bardsley, last seen posing on the floor of a Newcastle casino covered in £50 notes, was overdue.

Yet, while everything is seen through the prism of Di Canio’s ego, stability is impossible. It is unhealthy and borders on the untenable.

Even he admits it could all unravel with bewildering speed. The fixture computer has done them few favours: their next seven home games are against Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham.

It is impossible to escape the suspicion the Italian maverick got the job because of the lustre of his playing career and the lure of his personality. Apologists who highlight his success in getting Swindon Town promoted to League One conveniently ignore the financial chaos he left in his wake.

'Busier than Santa's elves'

Di Canio has been the cartoon sergeant major, banning everything from carbonated drinks to mobile phones. He has installed his consigliore, Roberto De Fanti, as director of football and has placed his faith in Valentino Angeloni as chief scout.

Together, they’ve been busier than Santa’s elves in mid-December.

Charis Mavrias, a winger signed from Panathinaikos for £2.5million on Thursday, is his 11th signing.

Toulouse left back Cheikh M’Bengue or Juventus prospect Paolo De Ceglie may well become his 12th. Di Canio is also pushing hard for further investment in a playmaker.

It is all a bit frantic, a bit forced. The contrast with Saturday's opponents Southampton, who have built shrewdly, and developed their own emerging stars, is likely to be instructive, and damning.