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May 1, 2013

Sunderland to shake up scouting policy

Paolo Di Canio will continue his revolution at Sunderland by hiring a new head of recruitment at the club this summer.

• Blog: Back down to earth

Former striker Bryan 'Pop' Robson currently operates in the role, but was informed by Ellis Short along with the rest of his team that their contracts will be terminated in the summer. The club's American owner is reportedly unhappy with the lack of value for money the club have received in recent years and thus has instigated a shake-up of the club's scouting network.

This season has seen the club spend over £30 million on bringing in the likes of Adam Johnson, Steven Fletcher, Danny Graham, Alfred N'Diaye and Kader Mangane, with only Fletcher considered a notable success.

Short's decision to part ways with Robson ends a long-standing association between the 67-year-old and the Black Cats stretching back to the mid-1970s.

Born in the city, Robson enjoyed three spells at the club as a player, making over 150 appearances before returning as a youth coach during the tenure of Peter Reid. Leaving that position in 2004, he spent time at both Manchester United and Chelsea before being approached by Steve Bruce to head up the club's scouting efforts in 2011.

Retained by Martin O'Neill, it is believed the club's poor January business has sparked owner Ellis Short into the decision to dispense with Robson's services.

It would appear any replacement is likely to be a compatriot of Di Canio's as he looks to employ more of his countrymen at the Stadium of Light. Already boasting a quartet of Italians in his backroom staff, last month saw the club linked with a move for ex-Italy international Paolo Negro.

The former defender played alongside Di Canio at Lazio and has been speculated as a potential director of football for the club. Currently managing in the Italian lower leagues with Zagarolo, the Sunderland boss had previously attempted to work with the 41-year-old while at Swindon Town.

Unable to complete a deal, it is believed that Negro still provided Di Canio with suggestions when it came to potential acquisitions at the County Ground, and could once again be considered for a role on his scouting team.

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