Sunderland need some post-Christmas quality

Every club’s fans across the entire country always point towards January being a pivotal month. Getting the right men in can make the difference between winning and losing, promotion and relegation. However it’s that dreaded R-word which is what makes Sunderland’s January transfer window possibly the biggest of all. Jobs are certainly on the line, and potentially a few years’ worth of the club’s future too.

Sunderland need some post-Christmas quality

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January 7th, 2014

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As the window flies open — I’ll assume that’s what it does since it always ‘slams’ shut — Gus Poyet has been vocal in his distaste for the current crop of players at his disposal. Speaking after the awful home defeat to Aston Villa, the Uruguayan said that some of his players “don’t get it” and that he now has a “good report on who can’t play” in the image he wants them to and has had us doing.

It would be easy to speculate on who he might be talking about, even if he wouldn’t be drawn on naming names himself. Rather than do that though, it’s up to both him and his backroom staff to make sure the right people come in to do the job he wants… or is it?

There’s one rather mysterious shadow lurking over the club which has yet to really be addressed — the role of one Roberto De Fanti.

For those unaware, this formerly-licensed FIFA agent is Sunderland’s Director Of Football. His supposed connections within the game mean he’s able to bring the club players at a low price and of high quality — something that has yet to materialise. Heading into the summer we knew the majority of what Paolo Di Canio had to work with wasn’t good enough for the Premier League, and thus a whopping fourteen new players were brought in. As the season has gone on though we’ve come to realise the majority of these are worse than what we started on with.

Having had a whole summer to bring in quality players. we’re with players who are barely adequate; borderline Championship quality players such as Modibo Diakite, Andrea Dossena, Cabral and others. Di Canio spoke out about the players he wanted, and the fact they never arrived at the club. Whether they didn’t come because of the madcap Italian or because De Fanti opted to inflict different options upon Paolo remains unclear. One thing’s for sure though, we still know little of De Fanti.

And so we land at this January’s transfer window, with yet more quality needed. The question has to be asked if we can trust De Fanti to actually deliver?

We appear to have been sold a dud in the forms of Emanuele Giaccherini and Jozy Altidore, who arrived for a combined fee somewhere near £14m. So if it comes to spending big, do we trust this Keith Lemon lookalike to get us players who will pull us out of it? I can’t say I do.

Gus Poyet has been vocal in his thoughts on how we work, stating already he has been given four options by De Fanti, and that if two of them were to arrive he’d quit the job.

Behind the scenes at the Stadium Of Light it seems Ellis Short is also privately upset with the work of De Fanti, and to a lesser extent his right-hand man, Valentino Angeloni.

It’s hardly a string of glowing references for De Fanti.

The pressure is now on in a big way to make sure the mistakes of the summer are not repeated. That quality is coming in. That the cheque book is open to ensure Premier League survival. For now at least, Short and Poyet seem to have given De Fanti the chance to reprieve himself. If he fails though, the results could be catastrophic for Sunderland as they face a new life in the Championship.

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