THE big news off the pitch last week was the departure of the club’s first ever Director of Football Roberto De Fanti.
His exit sparked a lot of questions, but the one most prominent in my mind was: Will anybody notice?
There was an interesting coincidence in the fact that Sunderland played Southampton at the weekend who had just got rid of their own big administrative figure, executive chairman Nicola Cortese.
But while Cortese was credited with being the mastermind behind Southampton’s revitalisation, we know little about De Fanti other than the fact that he never gave any Press interviews and was credited with being the man behind bringing in 14 new signings last summer.
Firstly, can I just say that I never want to see Sunderland sign 14 new players in a transfer window again.
I know it sounds exciting at the time when you’re hearing about one new signing coming in after another.
But trust me, as someone who has been in football dressing rooms for many years, it doesn’t work.
And in this particular case, if you take away the two loan signings from Premier League clubs – Ki Sung-Yueng and Fabio Borini, who we can agree are doing well – only one player out of the remaining 12 has nailed down a first team place.
And even that one player – Vito Mannone – only secured his spot after Keiren Westwood’s injury.
I don’t know if Sunderland will persist with the Director of Football model, but personally, I prefer the traditional situation where the manager has all the say in who comes in.
My view is that I trust a football manager far more than I would, an administrator.
If the director of football is little more than a well-paid gopher who does an important job of taking some of the pressure and responsibilities off a manager, I think that’s fine – player recruitment is a tough and arduous process.
But when these new positions start dictating who comes in too much, I think it becomes a case of the tail wagging the dog.
For me, the manager should always be the person making the key decisions on transfers.