I recently heard a nice story, by scouts in England. Michael Carrick invites a scout who discovered him to lunch. Carrick, sits down and puts a bag before him.
“What is this?” the scout asks.
“It’s a gift from me. I wanted to return the favour of you spotting me.”
The bag contains 250 thousand pounds. I do not know how much Carrick earns, quite possible that he works for the same amount in 10 days, but still it’s a nice thing to do. He could spend it in a casino or buy his eighteenth car, but he gave it to man, from whom it all began.
In Poland, from time to time you hear about scouting. There are of course people against it, for example, the late Andrzej Czyżniewski said that there are more scouts than talented guys, and that the whole looking for young and talented reminds me of a search of mushrooms in the forest where everything has been already collected earlier. But a shortage of talented people does not change the fact that the structure does not resemble the ones in west clubs. Lots of scouts have full-time jobs. A man who worked for Bolton, said: “There were ten of us, every week who go to matches, matches and once again matches.”
In Sopot, at the Hotel Mera, an IPSO scouting training course was held, conducted by the British. It was expensive because it cost PLN 3,000 per person, but it was good. You could learn a lot, a lot of facts have been presented in an inspiring way, the details to which people often do not pay attention to were highlighted, and it clearly showed what to expect from a scout in professional clubs and how these requirements can be met. I had the pleasure of observing the course for two days to and it surprised me, who came specifically to improve their education.
Michał Probierz (Jagiellonia coach), Ryszard Jankowski (Łęczna Górnik sports director), Jarosław Bieniuk (Agent of Lechia Gdańsk board), Edi Andradina (working with Pogoń Szczecin), Peter Hricko (former footballer), Janusz Dziedzic (former footballer), Szymon Sawala (GKS Bełchatów footballer). There was also a man of Cracovia (sorry, can’t remember the name!), and besides, with thirty young people, often coaches in private businesses, beginner referees or just enthusiasts. Guys who want to exist in football in some way and thought that perhaps they could be done in scouting.
Two surprises………..Positive and Negative..
Positive: so many people are able to spend a lot of money to take a course that does not guarantee anything yet. They are so determined to get through, but also know that there are no shortcuts, and that education is useful. Some took payment in instalments, because it would be for them too expensive at once.
Negative: so few Premier League clubs considered it appropriate to send their representatives. Some clubs probably think that they know best. Then this effect is that the work was given Błaszczykowski thanks to his uncle and Legia gives Lewandowski a kick in the ass (I don’t mention the number of desperate, misguided transfers, because it is an annual plague). Another thing is that most clubs wouldn’t have anyone to send or could not afford it
Jóźwiak impressed me, because he who paid for the course for himself and his employee, and yet he might believe that he has so much experience in football that he knows everything. I am also impressed by Sawala and Dziedzic. One until recently played football, the second plays still. They are looking for a new way of life. Sawala could sit at home, entertain children or go shopping. He traveled a few hundred kilometers and spent a lot of money on something that may pay off in future. Still playing in the league, he’s thinking ahead. After this course his perception of football certainly felt a little change.
Fortunately, the scout work is not just about finding talented people, because most would have died of hunger. It’s also about searching for specific players to specific teams, sometimes observing entire teams and reporting to the first coach. It was great Probierz was attending, because he, seeing all those young people, says: “Now we play with Wisła. This is my email. If any of you wants to, send me an analysis of Wisła game made on the basis of what they have learned here.” So these people, often random, got incentive. If they are actually good and motivated, they will send emails every week, with further analysis until Michał Probierz will write: “Man, you should work for us …” By the way, when Colin Hendry told what was his staff as head coach of U-21 Blackburn, Michał Probierz’s eyes widened. And no wonder.
Ryszard Jankowski of Łęczna also had a great idea, he made a quick phone call to the president of his club and organized three test positions with Łęczna for the top three participants (Colin Chambers, who lectured on the basis of the final exam, chose the best). So suddenly there was the very real possibility of working for the league club. I guess those wouldn’t be considered as star work conditions, but you have to start somewhere.
As you well know, my Barcelona is my hobby horse, so now two references to it. For a moment it got loud about Mathieu when he scored Real Madrid and generally wasn’t as such a butterfingers, for which many it was, when he was transferred in the summer for a lot of money. You may wonder why among thousands of stoppers in the world, Barcelona wanted him.
And as I was thinking that …
1. They were looking for a taller stopper, because they had very big problems in set pieces (defence as well as offense). You would probably want to have someone who would be approx. 190 cm tall and Mathieu is 192.
2. Positions are changed in Barcelona, players are often forced to play in other sectors of the field. So probably they sought someone who has experience not only in the middle of the defence, but also elsewhere. Mathieu also played on the left side a lot of matches. How many stoppers can also play on the side? Not to mention tall stoppers? Very few.
3. Stopper in Barcelona has to be fast, because the playing on the opponents field is vulnerable to counter-attacks. Mathieu is really fast if we look at his physical conditions (growth). Well, if wasn’t, he wouldn’t play on the side in Valencia.
4. Barcelona rarely brings players from outside of their “cultural background”. It usually takes players who speak Spanish or Portuguese, which makes it easier for the coach to work and the team in general can be put together easier. Mathieu meet this requirement as he spent five years in Spain.
For sure he was analyzed in great detail in a hundred other ways, how he passes the ball, plays in combat, how it reacts to stress, and so on, but the initial Q&A could be about the same as above. The first brave said: “Hey, maybe Mathieu?” Everyone looked at him like he was an idiot, and later came to the conclusion that it’s not such a bad idea. Because scouting in total is also about not bringing the best player, but the most useful for a particular team. The second reference to Barca … lately it has become fashionable to insist that Luis Enrique was Barcelona’s a new asset: a quick attack. And that’s when a lot of people commented: not like in Guardiola, where they play across no matter what. From the beginning, I thought this was untrue statement, a confusion of cause and effect. Therefore, after many years I saw two matches, both are entirely on you tube. Barcelona- Real 5: 0 and Real- Barcelona 2: 6. Watching those matches after a long time, it gave me a new, more visible perspective. All you really need is to watch it one eye to see that Barcelona crushed with their counterattack.
It crushed first, second, third and fourth team. The fifth team set up themselves deeper, but also got crushed. Another went even deeper. Until finally all teams came to a conclusion that playing “high” is a suicide. It is better to set up your ass in the box and hope for a miracle. Counterattacks died naturally. Real also realized that if they leave ten free meters, the punishment will come quickly.
With time, Guardiola’s Barcelona slowly died, especially when the coach was Tata Martino and there was a moment when the team was no longer scary for others. When Enrique came, the press wrote that he’s an idiot and a lot of people believed it, several coaches thought: “Barca is no longer scary, it’s already finished! They decided to attack. And when they decided to attack, they were countered.”
If Enrique’s team that will be still relentless in their attack, the cycle will repeat. More and more enemies will close in their own sixteen, without trying to tilt the nose. If Barcelona is compelled to play across, it will play across. Cause you won’t counter someone who does not want to have the ball.
Sopot course lasted 24 hours a day, because when talks ended, nights of Polish disscussions began, although exceptionally with English accents. Rumors of Marek Jóźwiak’s cabaret talent proved true, Michał Probierz showed sensational standup(!) , Czesław Michniewicz as always poured anecdotes of his sleeve, and Ryszard Jankowski floored everyone barely saying a word once every half hour, usually briefly but he had such timing that stomach hurt from laughing.
Then it turned out that Colin Hendry lost in the Champions League, not only to Legia (Jóźwiak), but also in the cups once lost to Trelleborg, in which Jankowski defended.
“And there I was a professional and ten amateurs besides me!” Ryszard said.
“Semi-professional,” Hendry corrected and added: “Is there someone who didn’t win with me?”
On the last day in the hotel bar Scot, in jeans and a chic shirt, showed the correct execution of tackle. He started near the reception desk and stopped twenty meters away, the sound he made was as if a jet flew. I feel sorry for those who hit on this thug on the pitch.