John McCormick writes: It seems like only a few weeks ago that I wrote about having a modern, professional, forward looking set-up that would do us well for the future. Then we sacked the manager. Now the director of football has gone. This shows I know nothing about the game and am not fit to tie the laces of he who does. So, without further ado, let’s go to that man, Pete Sixsmith, recently seen on TV, for his expert take on the situation
I can’t say that it came as a shock when the news came through that Roberto Di Fanti was no longer Sunderland’s Director of Football. In fact, the big surprise was that he has lasted as long as he has after the abrupt and correct termination of Paolo Di Canio’s time at the club.
I have no idea of what has gone on behind the scenes at The Stadium of Light, but there are a number of quite interesting scenarios. I’ll put mine forward and we’ll see if you, the reader, can come up with any more.
First of all, and I think that this one will get most people nodding their heads in some form of agreement, there has been a show down between Di Fanti and Gus Poyet over the players coming in and going out over this transfer window.
In the summer, Di Fanti brought in a number of players who were touted as first team regulars and it is clear that neither Poyet nor his coaching staff were enamoured with the likes of Dossena, Cabral, Roberge and Diakite. Not one of those four has engaged with English football and it is likely that the other three will join Cabral in finding new employers before the transfer period closes in two weeks’ time.
Poyet looks to have been sourcing his own prospective signings (Bridcutt and Buckley from Brighton, assorted Argentinians from South America and Europe) rendering Di Fanti impotent in terms of his job.
Has there been an “it’s him or me” situation in the owner’s office? If there was, there was only one loser – and it wasn’t a Uruguayan former Chelsea and Spurs midfielder.
The second option is that Ellis Short took a close look at the players who have been brought in, the deals that have been struck and the levels of performance from the aforesaid players and decided that his former high school Social Studies teacher from Independence, Missouri, would not have blown the transfer budget on the players mentioned above, let alone on Jozy Altidore.
Short is a Missourian, a state that calls itself “The show-me-State.”. Missourians don’t believe in bullsh** and judge people by what they do. Short was hoping that he had found a man who would avoid wasting money on the likes of Danny Graham and Asamoah Gyan, but who appears to be as hapless as the men who worked for O’Neill and Bruce.
As a ruthless capitalist hedge fund owner, there was no arm round the shoulder for Di Fanti and he wasn’t exhorted to get it right next time. He was sacked.
Another scenario is that it was Di Fanti who was responsible for the embarrassing situation we have created over Ji Dong-won. A bid of £5m. was apparently turned down in the summer from Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund. Di Canio and Poyet have tried to find a place for the Korean but he continues to exhibit all the ability of Eddie Waring performing Swan Lake after several pints of Tetley’s Bitter.
He has now gone to Augsburg for a tenth of what was offered during the summer and will play the rest of the season for them. Then, when the summer window opens, he will go to Dortmund , who are a much higher profile club than either Sunderland or Augsburg. And on a free transfer.
Was Di Fanti responsible for this mess? Nick Barnes on BBC Newcastle tonight made it clear that it was Di Canio who wanted him to stay – a sacking offence if ever there was one. So, that appears to put Roberto in the clear. It will be interesting to see if any stories come out in the next week or so regarding this one.
On the positive side, we have brought in two good loan players in Ki Sung-Yeung and Fabio Borini, so Di Fanti can claim some praise for that, but his overall record appears poor. But then again, was he hampered by the madman we had as Head Coach at the start of the season?
What is the precise role of a Director of Football? Some clubs have them and others don’t. They are there to have an overview of the whole club and to influence the club ethos from Under 9’s to the first team.
It allows for continuity if a manager or coach leaves and a good DoF will help the new manager settle into the club and focus on the first team while the other coaches continue their work lower down – at least it does in theory.
Could Poyet work under a DoF that he already knows or will Short, the show me Missourian, leave it to a manager who, so far, has hardly put a foot wrong in his three months on Wearside?
Only time will tell.
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