Gustavo Poyet is “excited” about the forthcoming transfer window, when he will find out how good his working relationship with Roberto De Fanti actually is.
The Uruguayan sat down with his director of football last week to discuss targets for January’s window as he looks to tweak the squad he inherited in October.
It will be a test of De Fanti, criticised by former coach Paolo Di Canio last week. Sunderland signed 14 players in the summer, who Di Canio claimed “weren’t my first choices or my option”.
Poyet thinks it is imperative he gets a few new faces in – he would not put a number on it, but is not looking for many – and hopes the former agent can deliver.
“If it doesn’t work, then you’ve got no chance,” he said. “So far, I’ve got no problems at all and I’m excited to wait for the transfer window, because that’s when you can see whether it’s working or not.
“I knew what the situation was (with the management structure) and I accepted it, and so far I have got no complaints, but to prove it to everybody we need to wait until we get through at least one transfer window. The meeting went all right.”
Directors of football have an image problem in English football but are commonplace on the continent. Poyet cannot understand the fuss.
“The system exists everywhere in the world, so for me it’s not new,” he said. “Here maybe you are not used to it and that’s fine, but it depends on who you are and how you manage it.
“For me, so far, there are no problems. I am used to it. I saw it during my seven years in Spain, I saw it at Spurs when I was a coach, and I’ve seen it here, so it’s no different. The connection and the communication has been great.
“Now, the best way is to wait until the transfer window and to see what we do and how we do it and then you analyse. If it’s good, fine. If not, then you need to sort it out, but right now, it’s been normal, I would say. Normal is good.”
Suspicions tend to arise over who is responsible for what, something Poyet tried to explain.
He said the conversations would go along the lines of: “What are you looking for . . . this type of player? So they have been watching players, they know what could be available and whatever and they show you. Then you watch clips, I like to see the players live as well. So there’s a moment in the process when I need to go and see them, (although) that’s not always possible.
“If the manager says, ‘Yes, him’, then it’s about price, whether he’s available or not, how much, agents. The player has to want to come. So that’s my first choice, then if the first choice is not coming, who is responsible? It’s too easy (to criticise).
“I would love to have all first choices, but how many did I have in my four years at Brighton? One or two. It’s not always possible, because the first choices are the Ronaldos, the Messis, and we cannot get them.
“When we finish this transfer window, I would like to be happy that what was required we achieved.
“When I went to Chelsea I was probably number three or four but then it’s up to you. You’ve got the chance so go and prove it. I think it’s simple. It depends on how we want to complicate things and make it look bad.”
There was, though, a warning for De Fanti in an earlier interview.
“We talked about a position and considered four players,” Poyet revealed.
“I picked two. It was simple. One of the other two was a definite no. If that one is coming, I won’t be here.”
Poyet did his diplomatic best to dodge commenting on Di Canio’s observations, or whether the volume of signings – many of whom have not featured under him – was too great.
“If I give you my opinion it would be too easy, because I wasn’t here,” he said.
“I knew the players who were here, I knew I had this group until January, and I knew what I had to do and I accepted the challenge. Now I’m going to start giving my point of view and try to add the little things, not many, I think we need to keep getting better.
“January is not an easy transfer window, but we need to adjust to be safe and then, of course, it’ll be totally different in the summer.”