Paolo Di Canio's dream start turns into nightmare at Aston Villa

SUNDERLAND will part company with chief scout Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson this summer as part of a summer overhaul of their scouting network, the Journal can reveal.

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio

SUNDERLAND will part company with chief scout Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson this summer as part of a summer overhaul of their scouting network, the Journal can reveal.

The Black Cats informed Robson of the decision yesterday as they also parted company with several other scouts in the clearest indication yet that there will be a revamp in their recruitment over the close season.

As the team suffered a disastrous night in the Second City – Paolo Di Canio’s men hammered 6-1 by Aston Villa while also losing Stephane Sessegnon for three games – it is apparent that plans are already crystallising for a complete overhaul next year.

Where Ellis Short goes from here is unclear but it is likely to involve Di Canio having a say in his next chief scout. ‘Pop’ Robson was a Steve Bruce appointment but he was part of the Martin O’Neill era too, having played a role in the January recruitment drive on which the jury is still out.

Short is understood to have looked at the recruitment at Swansea and Newcastle in January and asked questions about why international-class players could be secured on a budget, so any new appointment is likely to have one eye overseas.

There are more immediate problems for Short and Di Canio to worry about though after a bruising night at Villa Park that left Sunderland peering over their shoulder once again.

Their heavy defeat at Villa both revitalised Paul Lambert’s men and also landed them back in trouble themselves and needing to get something from back-to-back home games that are approaching. Stoke await on Bank Holiday Monday before a game against Southampton, who are not yet out of trouble themselves.

But it was the loss of Sessegnon to a three-match ban that was most worrying. He was shown a straight red card for a tackle on Yacouba Sylla that may be appealed by the club.

But even that was no mitigation for a second-half collapse that was among the lowest moments of a particularly poor season.

Christian Benteke was irresistible in that second period but questions will be asked about a defence which collapsed. Sunderland conceded after a scrappy first half-an-hour when Ron Vlaar hit a searing drive past Simon Mignolet.

Danny Rose equalised almost immediately but Craig Gardner’s mistake led to Andreas Weimann’s goal and then Sunderland were ultimately hit for six in an embarrassing second-half capitulation.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer