LEE CONGERTON’S first task at Sunderland will be to assemble a fresh scouting team after he was confirmed as the club’s new sporting director.
As the Echo revealed last week, Congerton has been appointed as successor to sacked director of football Roberto De Fanti, with the Welshman charged with overseeing player recruitment, while co-ordinating the Sunderland’s scouting operation.
Congerton will adopt a clean slate with Sunderland’s recruitment team after the club also confirmed that chief scout Valentino Angeloni has followed fellow Italian De Fanti out of the exit door.
The Echo understands that the remaining members of the all-Italian scouting team put together by De Fanti during the summer have also been axed.
Current Fulham chief scout Barry Simmonds is thought to be one potential contender to succeed Angeloni.
Simmonds, who spent nine months as Darlington’s managing director in 2007, has scouted for several English clubs and was manager of New Zealand Knights in the Australian A-League.
He certainly has more experience of English football than Angeloni, who had arrived at Sunderland with a lofty reputation in Italy after a successful spell as Inter Milan chief scout.
But Sunderland’s summer spending spree of 14 fresh signings has met with distinctly mixed success, with £2million goalkeeper Vito Mannone the only permanent arrival to have been an overwhelming hit.
Chairman Ellis Short hopes for better under the stewardship of former Chelsea chief scout Congerton, who was Sunderland’s first-choice to replace De Fanti after forging an impressive reputation during his three-year stint as Bundesliga club Hamburg’s technical director.
Short has been keen to continue with the director of football model, with Sunderland struggling for value for money in the transfer market over recent seasons.
“I’m delighted to join Sunderland and would like to thank the board and owner for this great opportunity,” said Congerton.
“Working alongside Gus (Poyet) and his team was one of the influential factors in me joining the club and something that I am very much looking forward to.”
Black Cats chief executive Margaret Byrne said: “Lee is very highly regarded within football circles and we have been very impressed by him.
“We feel he is the perfect fit for the club in terms of developing our player recruitment strategy and helping to take the club forward.”
Crucially, head coach Gus Poyet is thought to have had a say Congerton’s appointment after sharing the burden of Sunderland’s January recruitment with Byrne.
Poyet said: “I would like to welcome Lee to the club.
“Recruitment is one of the most important areas in football nowadays, so I’m looking forward to working alongside Lee for the best of the club.”