Recruitment is always a crucial element in the operation of a football club, but the individuals who work in the department often don’t get the recognition they deserve.
Under the current regime at Norwich City, it’s an area which has become particularly important and the department works closely with Sporting Director Stuart Webber, Head Coach Daniel Farke and his coaching staff to identify the right players for City’s first-team.
canaries.co.uk recently caught up with the Club’s Head of Recruitment, Kieran Scott, who spoke about his role in the current set-up, the recruitment operation and the process behind signing players who have gone on to be key members of the first-team squad.
Thanks for chatting to us, Kieran. Could you talk to us about how you got the job here at Norwich City and what your role entails?
I started scouting about 12 years ago. I’ve had roles at AFC Bournemouth, Southampton, Burnley and Wolves previously, and my job at Wolves was where I first met Stuart. He left to join Huddersfield Town and I then re-joined Burnley to work under Frank McParland who was the Sporting Director there at the time.
Then obviously Stuart [pictured] came to Norwich and approached me to come in as Head of Domestic Scouting at the time. That’s then evolved, a few months later, into my current role as Head of Recruitment and overseeing the whole department.
My role is aimed at putting a strategy in place for the first-team scouting department and also making sure the Academy recruitment is working as well and implementing that strategy. Once the strategy is in place, I make sure it’s working, support the scouts in their roles and on a monthly basis, we will then have a meeting when we go through all the players we’ve looked at. My role eventually leads to speaking to Stuart and Daniel where we then go through the players and they then makes the decision on whether we are signing those players.
Talk us through the process of the Recruitment department identifying a player and what leads to you recommending that player to Stuart and Daniel…
An example I can use of a more recent player is Emi [Buendia, pictured]. He was at Cultural Leonesa [in the Spanish second tier] and he was first flagged by our recruitment analysts that we have in the department as a high performing data player in that league, and he was only 20 years old at the time. He was brought to my attention and I felt strongly about him very quickly. I spoke to Stuart about him and put him on his radar and he was a player that we all liked. We went out to see the player and Stuart managed to do the deal very quickly. Emi would have been seen at least 12 times live and on video before we pushed the button on him. He captured the imagination of everybody.
Which other players from this season’s squad have you played a role in bringing to the Club?
As Head of Recruitment, you get a lot of information from Daniel. He’s quite vocal when he speaks about players he wants to bring in. One of them was Moritz Leitner - he introduced Moritz to us, we watched him and we all backed each other on it. We all work very well together to get to the end-game.
The recruitment department started its impact last January with the signings of Onel Hernandez and Kenny McLean. They were both players scouted heavily within the recruitment team, which was then backed by the first-team staff. That’s usually how it collates together.
But in terms of this summer Tim [Krul], Teemu [Pukki, pictured], Ben [Marshall] and Emi [Buendia] have all been heavily scouted and put forward by us. Stuart and Daniel will go away and watch the players in-depth as well and we will then meet afterwards to discuss it further to see whether the player fits and whether it works financially. It’s a collective effort.
We had quite an awkward situation with Teemu. Stuart and I went to watch him play for Brondby and we were sat on the runway ready to board the plane, but the engine failed so we had to go back through security and back home. He scored two that night but luckily we are thorough with our jobs, went back a few weeks later and he scored another two!
Which other areas of the Club do you work closely with?
We are building a strong relationship with the Academy. The success of Max [Aarons, pictured], Jamal [Lewis], Todd [Cantwell, pictured], Ben [Godfrey], and James [Maddison] before, there are good players coming through and we need to keep that going. We all know that the prices in football are driving upwards, so we need to produce our own for us to be able to afford to have good players like James. Working with the Academy, we work really hard to identify those players and then do our best to recruit, in what is very difficult market.
Finally, the project here is very much about making Norwich City “one club” and bringing the Academy and First-Team a lot closer together. How much are you enjoying being a part of it?
It’s brilliant. It’s something I’ve had a taste of at Wolves, in fairness. There was a similar structure in place there so it’s something I’ve worked under previously. I totally understand it as well. For departments and the Club to work as a whole, everyone has to be on the same page. You can’t have different departments doing different things and then expect it to work at the end. I thoroughly enjoy it here, I really enjoy working with Stuart, Daniel and their staff. They are a pleasure to work with.