Sunderland is a club divided. Beneath the Academy of Light's peaceful exterior a savage war rages that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of our football club. Senior figures are at bitter loggerheads over direction and division of responsibility and Gus Poyet can't go two minutes without threatening to quit in protest of Roberto De Fanti's haircut and general existence.
Of course, none of that is true, but you'd be forgiven for thinking it was. Well, almost none of it. Let's face it, De Fanti's barnet is a total shocker, but the rest is needless and mischievious media spin to try and create a drama out of what were actually pretty positive words.
Essentially, all that has happened is Poyet has been outlining his January plans to the media and putting everyone on notice that the process of strengthening the squad is well underway. It was positive stuff, well 95% of it at least. Have a read of it yourself (courtesy of The Guardian):
We talked about a position the other day and considered four players. I picked two. It was simple. One of the other two [selected by De Fanti] was a definite no. The player has to be the right one for me. If not, I'm not going to accept it.
The sporting director exists everywhere in the world. I know in England it's not very common. The manager is normally in charge of everything but I had it at Zaragoza as a player and my situation is clear.
I met with Roberto and Valentino and said what I think we need. They need to give me the options and I need to pick the ones I like. We need to see if they are available and if they fit into the financial possibilities, then we will move forward.
I'm sure it's going to be done in the right way, in the common-sense way. Everyone has a responsibility and then the player has to be the right one for me.
I've told him [De Fanti] my opinions about everybody here already and I've told him what I think we should be looking for. Roberto and Valentino will manage it and then I will start checking on them every now and then - I like to go and see players live, if it's possible. The players already here have an opportunity now but there are others I think we need.
The idea is to start moving. The sooner we move, the sooner we get a player, the better for me.
It's not going to be many players in January. And, so far, everything is working fine [with De Fanti and Angeloni]. The connection and communication have been great.
So, just to sum up, Poyet has had productive meetings with De Fanti and Valentino Angeloni with whom he has a 'great connection', targets were identified, the recruitment system is 'the common sense way' and one with which he is familiar, and he plans to ensure he takes ownership of his squad by taking an active role within the process.
The headline? GUS POYET WILL QUIT IF TRANSFER TARGETS NOT TO HIS LIKING
The Guardian certainly weren't alone in it either.
The Mail: It's my way or the highway! Poyet threatens to quit unless he controls transfer dealings
Sky Sports: Gus Poyet threatens to quit Sunderland over transfer strategy
Metro: Gus Poyet reveals rows with Sunderland hierarchy over January signings
ESPN: Poyet threatens to leave Sunderland over transfers
Telegraph: Sunderland manager Gus Poyet threatens to quit if players are forced on him
Independent: Back me in the transfer market or I will walk - Poyet
Of course, I did omit a small section of text from the quotes. Just nine words, but those words, despite forming a mere tiny part, have somehow managed to dictate the entire narrative.
If that one is coming, I won't be here.
Whether it is 'a threat' or not I'm not quite sure. it appears to be a a manager putting down a marker and promising responsibility. As long as he is here, the squad will be his - results will be his. Strong words but not, for me, strong enough to singularly overpower the context the rest of his sentiments established.
Poyet will have obviously discussed the recruitment system prior to taking the job and has confirmed - in detail - his endorsement of it since. Is it really an issue now? Of course not.
But it is to subeditors. Poyet threatening to quit simply sells more papers and generates more clicks than 'Poyet still happy with pre-agreed employment parameters', I guess.That's just the business.
So make your effigies of Roberto De Fanti, sharpen your pitchforks, light your torches, and prepare to march on his sinister abode. The press has decided there be a witch hunt a'brewin with the Italian has cast firmly in the role of the evil shadow-lurking monster of the tale.
Or we could just let the various people get on with their jobs...