Neil Adams on his new role of assistant sporting director

After completing the transition from player loans manager to assistant sporting director, Neil Adams sat down with to discuss his new role. Congratulations on the new role of assistant sporting director. Tell us a bit about how excited you are about this new challenge.

NA: Thank-you very much. Obviously, I’m incredibly excited and looking forward to another step at this football club. I’m also incredibly proud and honoured to have been promoted into this position.

I think everybody knows what this club means to me. It’s a club I’ve worked at for a long time and given absolutely everything to, and I’m equally grateful to have had the opportunity to do that.

In terms of this promotion, I’m really excited and really keen to go and play my part. Do you think your knowledge of and long-term association with the club is going to help you in this new role?

NA: I think it will. In any role, you need to know your product, so it certainly isn’t going to be detrimental. Of course, I’ve worked here for a long time and you sort of get a feel for the place. I don’t like talking about DNA, but you just get to know what makes it tick, how people work, how departments work, what the supporters want and what they like to see - that sort of thing.

There are a lot of members of staff who deserve a lot of credit for how well the loans programme has done here.

Neil Adams

The experience I have from working here over a number of years is obviously going to benefit that for me.

The thing is, it only gets you so far. It’s fine knowing the club inside out, but ultimately, it’s about what you do. Do you do your job properly and work hard enough? I can assure you no-one works any harder than me.

Knowing the club, what it’s about and its cultures and philosophies is great, but ultimately you’ve still got to go and put the work in and make sure it happens. You’re moving into this role after holding the post of loans manager for the last few seasons. Tell us how pleased you are with the progress that’s been made in that area of the club.

NA: It’s something that I’m very proud of. We started this job six years ago, when the club didn’t have a loans manager and, at the time, not many clubs did. If you look now, probably every Premier League club has one and a good half of the Championship as well.

Clubs are now recognising how important it is. We had to start it from scratch, it was literally a blank canvas with nothing to follow on from, so we had to go and make it work. There are a lot of members of staff who deserve a lot of credit for how well the loans programme has done here.

As the manager of it, you’re overseeing it and making decisions on how it works, but everything is always judged on the success of it and the number of players that have come through the loan process to either go and get themselves careers at good levels, increase their value or ultimately come back and play for us in the first-team.

That’s what you’re going to be judged on and, pleasingly, we’ve had a lot of success stories in that regard, with the likes of the Murphys, Maddison, Godfrey, Cantwell and others.

I’m very proud and pleased with how well we’ve developed, shaped it and are overseeing it. When you get recognition from external sources, that’s always the best way. It’s okay getting a pat on the back from people you work with every day and local media, but when people recognise it externally, and we’ve had that quite a lot with the loans programme, it’s something we’ve done very well with and we’re certainly keen to make sure that continues. Andrew Hughes is coming in to take your place in the role of loans manager. Are you looking forward to working with him and supporting him in the first few weeks of his new role?

NA: Absolutely, it would be crazy not to. I’ll still be overseeing the loans programme with Andy as the loan player manager now, so I’ve been working closely with him for the last four to six weeks just to make sure that he’s able to hit the ground running with the things that we’ve learned and the mistakes we’ve made.

I’ll be trying to pass as much of that as possible onto him so that when he takes over the reins himself, he’s got that knowledge of what we’ve accumulated and accrued over the last six years. Tell us what the overarching role of assistant sporting director is going to be about and how much contact you’re going to have with Daniel Farke, Stuart Webber and the guys at the academy?

NA: As it says on the tin, I’m assisting the sporting director, so covering everything in the football department from academy, loans and particularly first team.

To give you an example, the academy will be discussing the strategies of transfers and bringing in players. With the loans, I’ll oversee that and with the first team, it’s all the aspects from performance to recruitment and everything that it entails.

It will allow Stuart to go and focus on areas that he probably needs or wants to focus on now he’s got the opportunity to have myself assisting him. We’ll work together primarily as a team to do the very best we can for this football club. The club has a very clear strategy, philosophy and culture in place at the moment, but are you also looking forward to bringing some fresh ideas and looking at things we could do better and improve on?

NA: In any role, for me there’s a fine line between trying to stamp your mark on something and fix something that isn’t broken. That’s where a lot of people can sometimes get it wrong.

Anybody going into a new role, your initial thought is how can I change it or stamp my mark on it? But I think sometimes the best decision is to leave it alone if it’s working well, so that’s the difference for me.

What can I bring to the role? We’ll see. My experience, knowledge and being promoted into this position tells me that people think I’m ready to do this.

This season is a big challenge and one that we intend to tackle head on.

Neil Adams

To go in and try to throw your weight around and change things that really don’t need fixing, of which there are many at the football club, would be stupid.

I’d also like to add my input and change things that need changing and overseeing certain things at the club that might need doing differently, but also recognising how much good work is being done and to leave that alone and support it. Stuart is someone you’ll be working closely with and you have done already. How much are you looking forward to learning even more from him and working on a much closer basis with him personally?

NA: I’ve said before, and I think people know me, I’ll pretty much say it as it is if it’s possible. I think he’s excellent with what he’s done at the football club, how he’s worked and I’ve worked closely with him since he came through the door.

In the last 12-18 months I’ve worked a lot more closely with one eye on what’s happening now with this role. I know him very well and know what makes him tick, I know how hard he works and how he gets things done.

Now I’m his assistant, we’ll be working very closely together going forward and I can’t speak highly enough of him. Talk about stamping your mark on things, I think he’s shown everybody what he can do

This season is a big challenge and one that we intend to tackle head on but I’m really looking forward to continuing the close working relationship we have and obviously pushing things forward.

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