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A Scouting Insight (by James Curtis)

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20150723

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A Scouting Insight (by James Curtis)




Welcome to a new blog piece by our very own James_Curtis. Feel free to ask James questions below, and we may well see more from him - Kimbo

A summer of coming and goings is well underway at Villa Park along with many clubs across the Premier League. A few people have enquired about why the change in philosophy at the club, in recent years we have seen Martin O’Neill buy British players for a premium where other clubs have seemingly struck deals with foreign talent. More recently, Paul Lambert bought many players from the lower echelons of the football pyramid to varied success. I would like to point out that I have little knowledge about the precise dealings with the Villa scouting network but this blog is just going to give an oversight about the scouting industry as a whole as I hope people will be interested.

Firstly I would like to start on the subject of the scouting network. In 2010 Newcastle reappointed Graham Carr, a man with a fantastic reputation having worked at Tottenham and is close friends with Sven Goran Ericsson and has worked with him at Manchester City (And I am pretty sure Notts County for a short period of time). He has revolutionised the scouting network. The movement he set was to organise scouting agencies. A series of professional scouts who have no loyalty to one club but they will be subcontracted by multiple clubs to find a player. This has proved largely successful in providing a large portfolio of players from France, Belgium and Central Europe- Hence the expansion of foreign nationals from these nations in the last five years- Potentially even Amavi and Gueye linked. This of course is a cheaper way of pin pointing players however the issue with this method is if the scouting agency has little club loyalty then you get a situation in effect where one man is scouting one player for many clubs. Enter agents. This is why I believe that agents have gathered significant increases in power in recent years as if they know that multiple clubs are interested, then he can play them off one another to get the best price, best wage and maybe cynically, biggest bonus. Yet this is where one has to have sympathy with the media.

Annually, clubs are repeatedly linked with the same players, for years Villa were going to ‘sign’ Defoe, Man United ‘signing’ Ronaldo. On the newspapers part it seems as if they are lying but in reality it is more likely that these players are being scouted. I know from experience when an under 21 Championship year is on there is a frenzy in the scouting world to unearth talent- henceforth the papers get wind of United, Arsenal, Chelsea scouts at a game scouting players and the following morning they publish stories that they are battling it out to sign the next Lionel Messi when with respect they will more likely just trying to increase their portfolio for future reference.

This has only been a start- I didn't want to bore people about explaining the future of scouting which is online based and with agencies getting more power bargaining for players will be ever more and I think we see now the papers are really clutching at straw’s and falling into the trap of just because a club is scouting a player does not mean they will bid for him. In my experience, about 25-35% of players you scout are followed up further by the head scout. I hope you enjoyed the insight and any questions get in touch. I will be more than happy to answer! Just to give you background though I worked at Birmingham City, Wigan, Coventry and then more recently with Stan Ternant at Hull, although since relegation I have unfortunately been ‘relieved’ of my duties for one of a better word.
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A Scouting Insight (by James Curtis) :: Comments

Post on Thu Jul 23, 2015 11:51 am by villabromsgrove

James, thanks for such a well informed piece.

Can I ask whether in your opinion there is a job for both Paddy Reilly and Hendrik Almstadt at Villa, given that they are both proponents of the online scouting model? Surely employing two senior managers with the same skill set, while at the same time cutting down on the human scouting network is counter productive.

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Post on Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:47 pm by James_Curtis

VB- You are correct. For me the most effective scouting network should have a blend of people with different skills. I suppose it is like any job, why employ two people who bring the same to the table when you wouldn't lose out just having the one.

My guess is that Almstadt is a trusted aide of Fox and has been brought in to carry some of the responsibility with Paddy Reilly. Paddy Reilly was heavily involved in the recruitment of a new manager post the sacking of Lambert yet from what I have read Fox places Reilly in very high regard with respect to recruitment of players and places him as a centre piece for scouting in the future. Consequently, by employing somebody who can take some of the day to day red tape off of him frees him to do what he does best That would be my intake of it.

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Post on Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:52 pm by Trotters

That was a really interesting read and in this day of Football Manager and "Moneyball", I don't think think you'd bore anyone with details of online scouting.

Thanks for taking the time to put this together, James!

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Post on Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:57 pm by villabromsgrove

I hope you're right James, it's fine sharing a work load, I just hope that two egos don't clash over their individual interpretation of our current needs. I would have thought that with Randy's notoriously tight wallet, one head of department rather than two, plus a hired in OPTA number crunching expert would have been the way to go.

Maybe it's Hendrik's contract writing wizardry that makes him a valuable addition.

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Post on Thu Jul 23, 2015 1:24 pm by James_Curtis

@villabromsgrove wrote:I hope you're right James, it's fine sharing a work load, I just hope that two egos don't clash over their individual interpretation of our current needs. I would have thought that with Randy's notoriously tight wallet, one head of department rather than two, plus a hired in OPTA number crunching expert would have been the way to go.

Maybe it's Hendrik's contract writing wizardry that makes him a valuable addition.

Well after the debacle of the Delph contract and release clause then any improvement in that department would be welcome by us all!

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Post on Thu Jul 23, 2015 4:01 pm by GadgetMan

Brilliant piece that James

Any chance of a follow up to talk about the actual method and criteria a scout uses when assessing a player/s You know the actual process? A day in the life of a scout type thing? Would be fascinating, we all here the term 'scouting' and apart from sitting there and watching a player, I don't know a lot else....

Oh and are you on twitter? If so give me your @ and I'll be sure to attach it to this article on our twitter page. Cheers once again!!

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Post on Sun Jul 26, 2015 9:44 am by James_Curtis

@GadgetMan wrote:Brilliant piece that James

Any chance of a follow up to talk about the actual method and criteria a scout uses when assessing a player/s You know the actual process? A day in the life of a scout type thing? Would be fascinating, we all here the term 'scouting' and apart from sitting there and watching a player, I don't know a lot else....

Oh and are you on twitter? If so give me your @ and I'll be sure to attach it to this article on our twitter page. Cheers once again!!

Certainly I'll look to do a follow up piece. I'll try and put it together at some point but I've got a couple of days at the test match this week so it may be more next week.

And unfortunately I am not currently on twitter, looking to set a page up though as part in the coming months because it will help with my next chapter and a new job! If I do it would be great to link it because it would raise the profile so when I do I'll let you know!

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