Sunderland scouting role is an Italian job

Bryan "Pop" Robson. Sunderland chief scout.
Bryan "Pop" Robson. Sunderland chief scout.
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THE role of Sunderland chief scout is set to to go to an Italian as Paolo Di Canio looks overseas for a new head of player recruitment.

The whole of the club’s scouting system has been told that their positions will be up for review in the summer and it is likely that virtually everyone will go, including Chief Scout, ‘Pop’ Robson (pictured, right).

Robson, 67, was appointed by Steve Bruce in the summer of 2011– the Sunderland-born former striker renewing links with the club which stretch all the way back to 1974 when he first joined the playing staff at Roker Park.

Martin O’Neill retained Robson’s services but owner Ellis Short has become increasingly disillusioned with the success of player recruitment, believing that rival Premier League clubs are getting better value for money than the Black Cats have had in recent times.

The final straw appears to have been the January transfer window when Danny Graham, Alfred N’Diaye and Kader Mangane were brought in for close to £10m in fees.

Ex-Swansea striker has yet to break his duck in Sunderland colours while N’Diaye’s influence was minimal in the first couple of months at the club and Mangane never featured at all under O’Neill and has barely played since Di Canio’s arrival.

While it is Short who has wielded the axe, it will be Di Canio who will play the key role in deciding how the department will be restructured and who will be the new man brought in to co-ordinate an area which is key to the long-term success of any Premier League.

And there is every indication that the new chief scout will be an Italian.

Di Canio’s entire backroom staff are his countrymen – first-team coach Fabrizio Piccareta, goalkeeping coach Domenico Doardo and fitness coach Claudio Donatelli.

And earlier this month two coaches from Inter Milan were invited to the Academy of Light to run the rule over how things are run at the club.

Overseas recruitment can be particularly important in the modern-day game – as 22-year-old Christian Benteke demonstrated on Monday night, while other recent arrivals like Michu at Swansea City and Chelsea’s on loan striker Romelu Lukaku at West Brom – have all tormented Sunderland this season, while the likes of N’Diaye and Mangane have failed to carry the same menace.

And as Di Canio looks at how he might revolutionise and modernise Sunderland’s scouting network, the Echo understands that an Italian talent-spotter is already high on Di Canio’s list.