ROBERTO De Fanti has defended his controversial time at Sunderland – and insisted he did an “immense” job as the club’s director of football.
The Italian – who was sacked just over a year ago after seven months in the job – also insisted the club did not “impose” anything on ex-manager Paolo Di Canio.
The former football agent brought in 14 new players in his one transfer window at the Stadium of Light, which included the likes of Jozy Altidore, Cabral and Valentin Roberge.
Of those he signed, only Vito Mannone and Emanuele Giaccherini remain in serious first-team contention at Sunderland.
The Black Cats also battled relegation throughout last season and looked doomed until Gus Poyet’s side pulled off the Great Escape, but De Fanti has appeared to take credit for “one of their best seasons ever” – and their run to the League Cup final.
He told Sky Sports News: “I would like to analyse the facts.
“Nobody knows that when we signed the 14 players, we only had 12 players under contract, and nine of those were due to become free agents the next summer.
“I think we did an immense job there. The team at the end of the day (finished) 14th and reached the final of the cup.
“It was one of the best seasons ever for Sunderland, especially considering we spent the least in the Premier League last season.
“Of those 14 players, 10 were free agents or loans. It is funny to remember the bad ones but it is important to remember the good ones as well.
“Unfortunately, the players we had on loan, we were not able to buy. Of course we would like to have bought (Fabio) Borini, Ki (Sung-Yueng) and (Marcos) Alonso, who did well, but we couldn’t.”
On Di Canio’s claims after he was sacked as manager that he had little say in transfer dealings, De Fanti added: “We all know Paolo is a person with extreme charisma and great personality.
“Do you think with that charisma and personality, we could impose anything on him? That is the joke of the day.”