ROBERTO De Fanti can lay claim to being arguably the worst signing in Sunderland’s history according to the Echo’s annual fans’ survey.
The Black Cats’ first ever director of football lasted barely six months in the job before Sunderland chairman Ellis Short relieved him of his duties.
The Italian oversaw a dozen signings at the club last summer, but only Vito Mannone, among the permanent arrivals, proved an out-and-out success as Sunderland battled against the real threat of relegation throughout the campaign.
De Fanti’s appointment was a controversial one in the first place with his only real experience for the job coming from his work as a football agent.
He was to be a shadowy, mysterious character for Sunderland fans, with the fact he did not give media interviews meaning supporters knew almost as little about him when he departed, as they had when he first arrived.
But if a man is judged by his handiwork, then De Fanti has been found seriously wanting by Sunderland supporters.
Asked to rate the Italian on a scale of 1-10, almost half the fans who took part in our survey gave him only one mark – you suspected that if we had offered them the option to score him zero, they would have done so!
The three most popular marks were one out of 10, two out of 10 and three out of 10!
Only a handful of supporters scored him more than half marks and most were more than happy to express their unhappiness with his contribution.
“Can we vote in the negative?” asked Cort Heine, of Simsbury, Connecticut, USA, and he spoke for many who gave the lowest mark possible.
“Complete disaster,” said Tom Macknight, of Berwick.
“Something like 14 players brought in speaks volumes in itself,” said Neil Fowler, of Sunderland.
“Terrible acquisitions and the majority of them never made the bench.”
An incredulous David Wilkinson, of South Shields, said: “An unknown football agent made Director of Football at a Premier League club?”
Rob Hall, of Houghton, said: “No experience in the Premier League – stupid appointment.
“We seemed to miss out on Plan A players and sign Plan F players and we nearly paid the price.”
Chris Hope, of Jarrow, brought up what was a recurring point when he noted: “He brought in too many inexperienced players.”
But a simple verdict of “Crap” was the forthright view of Martin Nixon, of the New Inn in Durham, and he was not alone in his short and to the point verdict.
Those supporters who did give him some credit pointed that he must have had a hand in the signings of the few new faces who did prove successful last season – Mannone, Ki Sung-Yueng and Fabio Borini.
And there were three fans who gave the Italian 10 out of 10!
Martin Walton, of Durham, was one of them, commenting: “He gets that purely for signing Mannone and Borini.”