Paolo Di Canio blames everybody but himself - Roberto De Fanti

By Ian DennisBBC Radio 5 live senior football reporter
Paolo Di Canio
Di Canio's reign as Sunderland manager lasted only 13 games

Sunderland's former director of football Roberto De Fanti has rejected Paolo Di Canio's claim that the club's recruitment policy was the cause of his short reign as Black Cats head coach.

The Wearsiders signed 14 players in the summer of 2013, but Di Canio was sacked five games into the following season and replaced by Gus Poyet.

Speaking on television, Di Canio said: "Not one of those was brought by me."

But De Fanti told BBC Sport: "Paolo had the final decision on every player."

He added: "He always blames everybody else but himself."

Former Swindon boss Di Canio took charge at the Stadium of Light in March 2013 with Sunderland only a point above the Premier League relegation zone.

The Italian guided them to safety but, after the influx of players in the close-season, took only one point from the opening five games of the next campaign and was sacked with the club bottom of the Premier League, with Gus Poyet appointed as his replacement.

Di Canio faces furious Sunderland fans

Speaking on Sky Sports the day after Sunderland's 8-0 thrashing at Southampton, Di Canio said:external-link "I didn't bring in one player.

"De Fanti and Valentino Angeloni were the two responsible for that technical error, with the maximum support from the chairman, which is Ellis Short."

But De Fanti, who left Sunderland in January, countered by saying he and former chief scout Valentino Angeloni warned against keeping Di Canio in charge even though he he helped the team to narrowly avoid relegation during the previous season.

"The biggest mistake of the club's board was not to listen to me and Valentino's suggestion not to confirm Paolo at the beginning of last season," said De Fanti.

"Paolo was fundamental in saving the team from relegation, but not the right manager to lead what would have been a new group.

"Cracks inside the locker room were evident already then."

De Fanti also backed Poyet following the humiliation at Southampton, saying the Uruguayan would have taken Sunderland to the top half of the Premier League had he been in charge all of last season.

"Luckily, our suggestion to take Gus was not unheard and he was able to achieve results with exactly the same team as the beginning of the season," said De Fanti.

"He will also save the club also this year, if he is allowed to work properly."