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A comparison of scouting networks across PL clubs suggests Arsenal & WHU are the clubs with problems

The review of Arsenal is written by Amy Lawrene whose comments include the view that “Arsenal’s scouting is under scrutiny with last summer’s main arrivals – Shkodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Pérez – all enduring difficult periods in their first Premier League campaigns.”

Nothing wrong with that statement in itself – they all did have problem spells… except that for balance one might have said that Granit Xhaka got better as the season wore on (something one might have said about Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and many others if a similar article had been done at the time).  And that the majority of players have problem spells in their first season at a club.

One might also have noted that Rob Holding should certainly have been in the line up for the steal of the season, with his displays, including that in the cup final, after a £3m transfer.  But that point is not made.

Now you may know that I have been critical of Ms Lawrence, a journalist of much renown and experience, for deliberately writing misleadingly about Arsenal, so I thought I would compare her negative comments on Arsenal with those in the rest of the article.   And rather interestingly, that Arsenal piece  is about one of only two negative reviews there are.

Concerning Chelsea Dominic Fifield has nothing negative to say about their system or their buys.  But if one were looking for Lawrence styled negatives might there not be a question of  Michy Batshuayi if there is a question about Xhaka?

Liverpool is covered by Andy Hunter and by and large they get off very lightly, given the horrible recent mess up, but the comment “Michael Edwards leads player recruitment and transfer talks and was therefore the man in the firing line when Liverpool publicly withdrew their interest in Virgil van Dijk amid allegations by Southampton of an illegal approach.”   No mention of the way the owner lied about whether Suarez had a buy out clause of £40m, and then publically boasted about it at a sports conference in the USA later.

The Man City piece by Jamie Jackson, is all about nurturing youthful talent – which is fair enough although that then questions why Arsenal’s cv doesn’t include mention of Maitland-Niles, Iwobi and Bellerin – or indeed once again Holding.

There is mention that “City are serving a two-year ban on recruiting certain youth players (one of those years is suspended for three seasons) imposed in early May for breaking Premier League rules when signing players,” but that is left without comment although it is pretty damning.

Jamie Jackson reports that Man U have “just overhauled their scouting system, appointing more than 50 staff because of a concern the club was being left behind,” and no mention of how it seemed to take a very long time for  Henrikh Mkhitaryan to get going after his transfer from Borussia Dortmund.

 

Tottenham have not a negative word said against them by David Hynter, although one could make the case that Georges-Kevin Nkoudou who came in for £11m last summer has not made a particular impact.

 

In fact the only other team to get a negative report is West Ham of whom Jacob Steinberg says, “West Ham have floundered of late, opting for cheap quantity and overpriced experience.”   Which when you look at their transfers last summer is probably just about right.

Toni Martinez (Valencia)
Havard Nordtveit (Borussia Moenchengladbach)
Domingos Quina
Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia) 
Gokhan Tore (Besiktas) 
Ashley Fletcher (Manchester United)
Arthur Masuaku (Olympiacos) 
Andre Ayew (Swansea City) 
Jonathan Calleri (Deportivo Maldonado) 
Edimilson Fernandes (FC Sion) 
Simone Zaza (Juventus) 
Alvaro Arbeloa

I do try and question myself about the view that the media are particularly negative about Arsenal.  Are the media particularly out to get Arsenal or is it my souped up imagination that leads me to conclude that?   But here I do think, this is not a balanced report, and Arsenal are particularly poorly treated by Ms Lawrence.

After all the article is called “The transfer hunters: how Premier League scouting set-ups compare” which is what the other writers have written about.  Only Arsenal and WHU get a drubbing for the quality of their work.

21 comments to A comparison of scouting networks across PL clubs suggests Arsenal & WHU are the clubs with problems

  • Marko

    One has to wonder what is the actual point of this article. Anyway considering that we’ve generally speaking struggled in the transfer market for over a decade then yes there is something wrong with our scouting network as well as how we go about our business negotiating for players

  • Abcdef

    Arsenal, like any other organization needs an director of operations and since it is a football club, that director is called a director of football. Why Wenger is against such a basic corporate governance appointment is beyond me. The director should be the one wrestling with tough negotiators from Lyon and other clubs based on a list of targets from Wenger. A director will also be a great sounding board for Wenger and lead to decisiveness in the transfer market. It’s tough spending £50 million on a single player based on one man’s decision, never mind the £120 million for Mbappe. That explains all the dithering, there is no sounding board to say “let’s do it” since Dein left.

  • Gord

    [Boss]

    Okay people, let’s get together and write a group article about the scouting of all teams in the EPL. For everyone except Amy Lawrence, try to be positive. Amy Lawrence, you are to write about Arsenal’s scouting. Make sure to have a few negative points in your article. Ok hacks, start writing.

    [Hacks]

    Yes Boss!

  • Josif

    Tony

    Tottenham made a few poor purchases. Nkoudou at 11 millions was poor but doesn’t come close to Sissoko (30 millions for nothing) or, for that matter, Janssen (17 millions, he was supposed to be Kane’s stand-in but showed nothing but that he can score from the penalty spot).

    On the other hand, they did get Wanyama for peanuts last summer with Alli and Alderweireld joining them for small fees in 2015.

    Manchester United got 20+ goals in all competitions from their free-transfer acquisition Zlatan Ibrahimović.

    Liverpool made the best signing of the last summer in Sadio Mane.

    Chelsea got Kante, the best Leicester player in 2015-16.

    As for our scouting last summer, the best signing was the cheapest one (Holding). Both Xhaka and Mustafi had long poor spells while Lucas Perez struggled with injuries.

  • Jimmy Balantyne

    What’s all this about Xhaka having a ‘long poor spell’? Seems to be a case of something being repeated enough that it becomes fact. He had a few harsh decisions against him and made a couple of stupid challenges but he was always a good player. It’s the same, once it becomes obvious, even to a player’s critics that they’ve actually had it all wrong the old ‘He’s probably the most improved player in the league’ is trotted out. Xhaka didn’t have a long poor spell, the entire squad did.

  • Josif

    @Jimmy Balantyne

    Xhaka did mostly struggle in 4-2-3-1 formation but once Arsene made a change to back three with Ramsey as second central midfielder next to him, Xhaka found his feet as he was finally able to concentrate on his passing skills and less on tackling.

  • Andy Mack

    It looks to me like the editor just told some writers to hand in an article about their clubs transfer activities and whether they were successful on that front, without giving the writers parameters/format/structure for the article.
    And when each writer submits their piece, the editor realises he’s made a mistake but decides to use it all ‘as is’ rather than either putting some effort into editing the pieces into something that shows a consistent review, or ask them to do I again with a uniform structure…

  • I don’t think there is evidence that Mr Wenger is “against such a basic corporate governance”. The forthcoming appointment of a new director of high performance suggests otherwise.

  • Arthur

    Tony
    I am sick of reading about Arsenal’s negative media coverage. As you have pointed out this has been going on for 50 years or more. As you probably have some contact with the Arsenal hierarchy, do you know if Arsenal have a strategy for dealing with media bias ? I do not want to read the same articles for the next 50 years.
    I can think of many ways of doing this and I do not even work in PR.!

  • colario

    Arsenal have had a number of directors of football down the years only they have not had the title ‘Director of football.’

    I read the article yesterday and thought it pathetic and how the mighty Guardian* has fallen away from in depth independent thinking.

    *The article was in Saturday’s online guardian.

  • jjgsol

    why have we struggled in recent years in the transfer market?

    If you look at the players we have bought over the last few years, how many can be said to have been unsuccessful?

    Very few.

    Does a player have to be an Henry to be regarded as a success?

    Looking at the big spending teams, do they not have many more flops than we have?

    I think that there seems to be an instinct to be negative about our team, if only because so many bloggists and journos are.

  • Nitram

    How dare you Tony. Amy Loves us apparently.

    You know who will be spitting feathers.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Arsenal scouting under scrutiny by an Arsenal supporter and the experience journalist Amy Lawrence should be accepted in good faith and not in bitterness. Because to me, her questioning the last Arsenal 3 senior players last summer transfer i then particular incoming transfer cases of Sokodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Perez should be seen in good light because I believe being an Arsenal supporter that she is, she ultimately wants Arsenal to win the PL League again and CL for the first time. While Mustafi can be said to had hit the ground running immediately he started playing for the Gunners but later had to struggled with injuries that sidelined him intermittently for spells. One cannot voice same for Xhaka who was erratic in his playing for Arsenal when he began his career at the Emirates Stadium as he missed some PL games for Arsenal though suspensions and injury spells. But late into the last season, he started to flash some top looking quality game performances for Arsenal for which he was bought. Lucas Perez largely became an injury case and unfit to play for Arsenal in over 3/4 of Arsenal games last season which rendered him an almost obsolete player for Arsenal. A wage licker?

    Of the quartet youth players of Hector Bellerin, Maitland-Niles, Alex Iwobi and Rob Holding, I think the Arsenal youth scouts performed very well in their identifying Bellerin, Niles, and especially Holding as promise top quality youth players who could graduate to top quality senior players for Arsenal later and in particular, Bellerin and Holding who have all appeared to have vindicated the Arsenal youth scouts with their top performances for Arsenal. And Maitland has looked will come top too for Arsenal sooner than latter. But Iwobi who rose through the ranks in the Arsenal academy schools has generally looked not to be very serious or incapable in doing the goalscoring job for Arsenal in the numerous opportunities he was given to star for Arsenal last season as he often profligate in front of goal when he should have buried many chances for Arsenal in the League.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Arsenal scouting under scrutiny by an Arsenal supporter and the experience journalist Amy Lawrence should be accepted in good faith and not in bitterness. Because to me, her questioning the last Arsenal 3 senior players last summer transfer in particular the incame transfer cases of Sokodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Perez should be seen in good light because I believe being an Arsenal supporter that she is, she ultimately wants Arsenal to win the PL League again and the CL for the first time. While Mustafi can be said to had hit the ground running immediately he started playing for the Gunners but later had to struggled coping with injuries that sidelined him intermittently for spells. One cannot voice same for Xhaka who was initially erratic in his playing for Arsenal when he began his career at the Emirates Stadium as he missed some PL games for Arsenal though suspensions and injury spells. But late into last season’s campaign, he started to flash some top looking quality game performances for Arsenal for which he was bought. Lucas Perez largely became an injury case and unfit to play for Arsenal in over 3/4 of Arsenal games last season which rendered him an almost obsolete player for Arsenal. A wage licker?

    Of the quartet youth players of Hector Bellerin, Maitland-Niles, Alex Iwobi and Rob Holding, I think the Arsenal youth scouts performed very well in their identifying Bellerin, Niles, and especially Holding as promise top quality youth players who could graduate to top quality senior players for Arsenal later on. And in particular, Bellerin and Holding who have all appeared to have vindicated the Arsenal youth scouts with their top performances for Arsenal. And Maitland has looked will come top too for Arsenal sooner than latter. But Iwobi who rose through the ranks in the Arsenal academy schools has generally looked not to be very serious or incapable of doing the goalscoring job for Arsenal in the numerous opportunities he was given to star for Arsenal last season as he often profligate in front of goal when he should have buried many chances that fell to him for Arsenal in the League.

    Mr Attwood, I am sorry sur for re posting my comment. I had to as I spotted some errors in my first posting which I corrected. Thanks.

  • Gord

    OT: Corruption News

    TheGuardian has a couple of corruption notes.

    The infant one replaced the two people running the ethics body a short while ago. Well, it seems the infant one was under investigation by the ethics body at the time. Hmmm.

    https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jun/18/gianni-infantino-fifa-president-ethics-committee-under-investigation-alleged-malpractice

    David Conn (Guardian employee?) wrote a book about corruption at FIFA, and is trying to sell copies.

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/18/the-fall-of-the-house-of-fifa-david-conn-review

    This is about the 40 years the septic bladderbird was at FIFA (I’m clean, I’m clean).

  • Thanks Gord. Yes this is the story we’ve been running in recent weeks with info supplied via Swiss newspapers. I’ll have a summary tomorrow. Too tired to write it up tonight.

  • JimB

    I’ve read the article and it seems to me that there’s actually very little for Arsenal fans to complain about. To describe it as a “drubbing” is a paranoid overreaction – an all too familiar weakness of this site, I have to say.

    Yes, the final line does mention that Arsenal’s overall scouting operation is under scrutiny. But that might simply be a fact – something that Amy Lawrence has learned from a source at the club. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The remainder of the paragraph on Arsenal is actually quite interesting. I wasn’t aware that Arsenal had actually purchased a data analytics company.

    As to the paragraph on Spurs, it’s as bland as can be and talks mostly about what the new head scout did before he came to Spurs rather than about Spurs’ scouting philosophy – which would have been far more interesting, IMO. No criticism, as you say. But no praise either.

  • insideright

    This newspaper feature is a classic example of twenty different journalists being sent away to write things to different briefs that were then differently edited to provide clickbait in their own different ways.
    Impressions of even interested outside parties will always vary – and having been edited down to pretty much a single sound bite, read like unsubstantiated drivel.

  • ron de jonge

    I agree with you Tony, dont let them get away with their mindless biased negativity. You could fire a bazooka full of criticism to m city, united and liverpool and they would deserve it. Arsenal did well and Xhaka is a great player who got screwed by the refs. Okay he should left home his scissor tackle but. at least he got one red undeserved compared to a hundred more rude tackles which went unpenalised last season

  • Dammy

    Of course certain sections of the media are biased. How else do you explain The Sun’s front page the day after the London Bridge terror attack?

    In all reports since that incident, the only pertinent information to do with the attackers was the fake explosive vests; nothing else has been mentioned since.

    But trust The Sun to attempt a failed Arsenal smear campaign…

  • Flares

    Bellerin for Rafinha is a horrible deal. I hope Wenger tells Barca to get stuffed.