De Fanti defends Black Cats transfer splurge
De Fanti was appointed by chairman Ellis Short prior to the 2013-14 season, but a tumultuous campaign followed and head coach Paolo Di Canio departed in September.
The likes of Cabral, Valentin Roberge and Charis Mavrias all arrived amid an influx of signings under De Fanti, with many of the fresh faces failing to make a positive impact.
De Fanti was subsequently sacked in January 2014, but he insists he holds no ill-feeling towards Sunderland.
"For me it was an incredible experience," he told The Guardian. "There were some ups and downs and after a year I only have positive feelings about it.
"When I came in the situation was a disaster. We only had 12 or 13 players under contract [who] Paolo considered at Premier League level.
"Nine would be out of contract in one year and we had to rebuild a team. No players were emerging from the academy.
"[Phil] Bardsley and [Lee] Cattermole were outcasted by Paolo and Ellis decided that, because of financial fair play rules, the things that had been going on in the past were not proper and had to be dealt with differently.
"My job was to reduce the salaries, spend as little as possible, sell the two best players who were [Simon] Mignolet and [Stephane] Sessegnon. The job was economics, to change the contract system; take away the guaranteed loyalties, lower the wages, introduce performance bonuses.
"My regret is that we were not allowed a press conference where we would have explained to the fans what a difficult season we had ahead of us because of these financial difficulties.
"It would have been more honest and would have lowered the expectations. Why weren't we allowed? You should ask Sunderland’s media office. Although it's easy to understand why.
"People criticised Roberge and [Modibo] Diakite but they were two free agents which we took instead of two free agents who left - [Titus] Bramble and [Matthew] Kilgallon, who barely even played the former season.
"We tried to get [Tom] Huddlestone, he went to Hull. We wanted [James] McCarthy, but he decided to go to Everton. We tried to get [Callum] McManaman but he stayed at Wigan.
"We tried to get [Romelu] Lukaku, he went elsewhere and our next best option was Jozy Altidore. Our transfers were dictated by the books. English players were just too expensive for us."