Do The Manchester Clubs, (And Others), Really Employ Any Scouts?

Posted: December 24, 2017 in Arsenal, Chelsea, European Football, Football, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur, Transfers
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This is a question which, in various guises, has been asked before, even by our goodselves.

In the not too distant past we have criticised the big clubs for waiting until players become household names and then spending a fortune to buy them, rather than scouting them as young players and picking them up for next to nothing, relatively speaking.

We are reminded of these instances every time, for example, Virgil van Dijk is mentioned in the press and, lately, this has been quite often.

He is a player who made his mark at Celtic and it is a constant source of amazement that none of the clubs who are now professing an interest in him, bought him from the Scottish club. Manchester City or Liverpool could have got him for a fraction of what he will cost now but, instead, they allowed a forward-thinking club like Southampton to snap him up.

So what do the scouts at the big clubs actually do if not scout the lower divisions for the emerging talent?

Well, it appears that they are not even very good, generally, at spotting proven talent and getting a good deal for their club. Here’s some recent examples.

Manchester City


Bernardo Silva – Still at the club but may be sold in January or at the end of then season as he can’t get in the team.

Danilo – Also still at the club, also may be sold as he can’t get in the team either.

Claudio Bravo – Was quickly considered a bad buy after making several costly errors. He will stay providing he is happy to be the number two goalkeeper.

These are the three City purchases who would be considered questionable and whose future at the club is the subject of some doubt. Time will tell.

Manchester United


Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Blows hot and cold but, unfortunately for him, rather less hot than cold. He has failed to convince either his manager or a large proportion of the fans and will possibly leave in January, either on loan or permanently.

Victor Lindelof – A young player with time on his side and he will probably be given time to settle. He was, however, a high profile signing who was expected to slot straight into the first team. With a little luck he should be around for a few years.

So, of the signings made by the two current incumbents at The Etihad and Old Trafford, only five are debatable at this moment in time but, when you consider that these five cost a combined £130 million, they could turn out to be expensive mistakes.

Manchester United, of course, have a terrible recent history in the transfer market with the club selling Morgan Schneiderlin, Memphis Depay, Angel Di Maria, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Victor Valdes and not renewing their loan agreement for Radamel Falcao. It is also likely that Luke Shaw will leave the club in the near future.

All of these players had been signed by Louis van Gaal so he must bear the brunt of the blame for their failure.

However, we can only assume that these players were scouted over a period of time. Not just to see if they were consistently good, but also to assess whether or not they would fit into the existing team set-up.

As a manager will rarely go against the advice of his scouts we can also only assume that the real failure in all of these cases lay with the men who spent their time watching these players at their previous clubs.

We have said many times that, in our humble and worthless opinion, the raison d’être of a scout is to find hidden gems. It is to unearth players BEFORE they are famous and established internationals.


At Manchester City and Manchester United and, without any shadow of a doubt, some of the other big clubs as well, the scouts role would appear to be to watch a famous player a couple of times, tell the manager that he is good, then watch as the manager signs him and takes all the flak if it was a mistake.

In these days of multi-million pounds transfer fees and the “money no object” attitude of some clubs, the role of the scout is almost redundant at the big clubs. Do they really need a scout to tell them that Neymar or Kylian M’Bappe are good players?

The real winners, from a self-satisfaction point of view anyway, are the scouts who discovered these two in the first place because they were actually doing their job.


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