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The scouting revamp has been in the pipeline for a while. The recent developments is nothing new. : Gunners

Ever since we hired Edu in May 2019 it appears a plan was put in place to revamp the entire scouting set up and we’ve been gradually seeing those changes since November.

This was an article on 29th May announcing cutbacks of some part time youth scouts: Arsenal drop scouting bombshell as 10 contracts terminated amid cutbacks

This comes after we let go of Morrow the head of youth scouting and several people who worked under him Dave Lee, Kevin Beddell, Dan Price and Joe Sutton in November 2019.

The recent redundancies we’re seeing is basically the 3rd stage of culling the scouting set up and maybe more is yet to come.

I hate to use the word “revamp” because as far as i’m aware we haven’t hired anybody to replace all the scouts we’ve let go. It sounds more like “dismantling” to me.

This is a good eye opening article about the whole Arsenal setup and the restructuring, definitely worth the read: Arsenal’s new vision for recruitment and transfer deals after Francis Cagigao leads scout exodus

Interestingly in the article there’s a quote that caught my attention:

One agent who works in youth football described their approach as “a breath of fresh air”, noting that they were more decisive than they ever had been before. Several figures close to the English academy game describe Arsenal’s youth recruitment as one of the best in the Premier League, if not Europe.

An agent actually happy with the changes we made to our youth scouting set up, I wonder if that’s a good or bad thing. Somehow I don’t think it is good especially for our youth players they want to get their dirty hands on.

The latter part of the quote about us having the best youth recruitment in the country, I wonder this was said before or after we removed Steve Morrow? There’s no way we suddenly have the best youth recruitment in the country just 9 months after Morrow was removed, after all he was responsible for the development of Saka, AMN, Nelson, ESR, Willock and Nketiah.

This is the same youth recruitment set up that resulted in the likes of Serge Gnabry, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Ismael Bennacer, Donyell Malen and Krystian Bielik but the coaching setup under Wenger failed to capitalise on their talents.

Doesn’t sound like there was much wrong with the youth recruitment setup yet we got rid of it.

FYI, Morrow is now in the frame to become Spurs academy chief after their previous guy left to join the FA.

I’ve come across a quote from Mertesacker who made no secret of his desire to streamline the academy set up:

said in September: “The amount of staff we have in academies is, I’ve never seen anything like it. “On one hand it’s good to take care of the players but I don’t know, sometimes I get confused by the number of people who have an impact on one kid. “We’re talking 100 people or more have an influence on one kid over years. It’s quite a heavy load.”

Not sure what the scouts got to do with this but it seems like he’s fully on board with the whole process Raul and Edu is implementing.

A 2008 bleacher report article about Arsenal’s scouting network: Arsenal’s scouting network revealed

We had a large network of scouts, and most importantly contacts around the world. Interestingly despite this network and contacts we have chosen to get rid of all this in favour of Raul and Edu’s contacts. Dodgy as fuck.

It was only when StatDNA entered the picture in 2014 when it all began to unravel for the scouting network with failed signings as a result of using this tool.

Chief Scout Steve Rowley ended up leaving Arsenal in 2017, I wonder if he was disillusioned with Arsenal’s recruitment strategy involving the use of StatDNA?

It’s no secret Wenger liked StatDNA but he struggled to marry this with the scouting setup he helped create and made poor decisions as a result. This ultimately led to all the changes we’re seeing today.

Another article in 2013 by Bleacher Report again on our scouting network: Arsenal’s Scouting Network and How Arsene Wenger Locates Talent

Interestingly in the article our South American scout was responsible for bringing in the likes of Denílson, Pedro Botelho, Damian Martinez, Carlos Vela and Wellington Silva. YIKES!

This is the famous article on Sven Mislintat: ‘An absolute mess’: Inside Arsenal, a ‘dysfunctional’ club desperate for a reset

He pointed out about how bloated our scouting staff was and he wanted to make changes which was overuled by Raul. Since then Raul has gone on to make those changes anyway – whether they’re the same changes Sven recommended, we don’t know.

The article ends with acknowledging we need a cultural reset and making hard decisions now will benefit us in a few years. Are we doing this? perhaps we are. Edu is in, Arteta and his coaching staff is in, Scouting staff revamped, Mertesacker in place for the academy with scouting changes happening there too.

The Athletic article on Cagigao, written in April has good notable insights of the inner workings of the club: The making of Cagigao, the man who found Fabregas, Martinelli and Bellerin

The article is free to read. It’s a bit of a self masturbatory puff piece on Cagigao.

He wasn’t a fan of Mislintat saying that the scouting staff felt somewhat ostracised. Make sense since Sven wanted to cull the scouting set up. He had his own methods and contacts and the scouts weren’t as involved. I think Mislintat was hired by Gazidis and Wenger to make use of StatDNA and the scouts clearly disliked it.

Since then Cagigao took over as head of recruitment. This article was written in April, a month after StatDNA guru, Jaeson Rosenfeld’s left Arsenal to join Wenger at FIFA (This is proof that Wenger liked StatDNA despite their failings in the latter part of Wenger’s time at Arsenal). Maybe when Edu was hired he saw the writing on the wall too and got a puff piece written about him to ensure his future job prospects.

With Cagigao and Rosenfeld gone it signaled the departure of our scouting network and the use of StatDNA. We are completely agent contacts driven now, for better or for worse.

There are always new problems to contend with. Brexit is almost certain to scupper Arsenal’s approach of identifying the best European talent before the age of 16. The club are turning their focus on players 18 and above, operating in the grey space between academy sides and first teams.

He hints to the future of Arsenal’s transfer policy regarding young prospects. Maybe despite the good work made by the academy scouts Brexit is why we got rid of them in order to get ahead of the process whilst other clubs catches up to the new reality of Brexit? Risky. If they’re right the other teams will have bloated scouting networks with Brexit tying their hands behind their backs whilst we’re humming ahead hoovering up the latest talents. If it fails and the other teams vast resources enable them to quickly adapt then we will be left further behind.

The article ends framing him as a key part of Arsenal’s recruitment setup who does all the leg work and not Raul who is labeled as a charmer who only get the deal across the line. Safe to say he isn’t a fan despite being promoted to Head of recruitment under Raul. Didn’t take long for the relationship to fall apart did it!

Here’s some articles scathing over Kia Joorabchian influence at Arsenal, the Guardian article especially a good read: Kia Joorabchian’s growing influence sheds light on Arsenal’s identity crisis

Arsenal look like a club being taken for a ride in growing Kia Joorabchian relationship

Reading all the articles it sounds like Wenger had Arsenal’s best interests at heart and he kept the wolves at bay but as soon as he was removed the wolves pounced. There’s lots of people out there who do not have Arsenal’s best interest at heart and are more interested in lining their pockets.

Everything Wenger built has been undone. Maybe there’s still some hope yet with Arteta and Mertesacker.

I think the approach we’re taking is the wrong one. We should be attempting to build upon the foundations Wenger laid down over the past 20 years, maybe streamlining it and freshening it up perhaps but not removing it completely which is what we’re currently doing.

Arsenal were going under a decade long rut and i’ve long felt we needed to change the set up and culture of the club. Wenger got too comfortable in his job and Arsenal as a whole stopped improving. He was also too naive and stubborn to the financial realities of football and the growing influence of agents. In hindsight maybe he could’ve tried to be more realistic regarding the value of money and be more flexible towards agents.

There is a view that Arsenal’s hierarchy are awkward customers. It has not gone unnoticed among certain club personnel over the past two seasons that certain agents and contacts do not return calls as frequently. One player representative says he sighs inwardly when an Arsenal number shows up on his phone; another is strongly critical of their communication skills.

How we’re going about making those changes I don’t fully agree with. Society has a tendency to overreact to any issue, going from one spectrum to the next when the right answer is to make a more moderate, centerist approach.

Unfortunately we’re seeing this with Arsenal going from one extreme end of the spectrum with pure scouting to the other with agents contact based approach. It’s a complete reversal of Wenger’s philosophies. All we had to do was just to be a little more open with dealing with agents rather than blowing the doors off and letting agents in and giving them free reign over our transfer policies. We’ve failed to strike the right balance and unless Kroenke steps in we have lost control of this balance. Wenger was our essentially our “checks and balances” but unfortunately poor decisions and declining performances pushed him out of the door.

Surely there are some aspects of Wenger’s philosophies and culture worth keeping at the club? Surely not all of them are bad.

You know what, I don’t think Kroenke is fully clued in of the politics in football on the other side of the pond. He let in some wolves in sheep clothing to help run the club and over time that influence has grown. Arsenal is a big cash cow and with Wenger out of the way the agents are rubbing their hands with glee right now.

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