An Insight into the Manchester United Scouting System
Have you ever wondered why it takes so long for Manchester United to sign a decent young player?
I think every single fan has. Months and months of speculation, column after column written in the papers; after a while, fans give up on a potential signing, thinking the papers are milking a rumour for all its worth.
In yesterday’s L’Equipe, alongside Olivier Sadran, head of Toulouse FC, and Olivier Giroud’s agent Michaël Manuello, David Friio (Manchester United’s EPL and Ligue 1 scout) shed some light as to why transfer stories, especially ones regarding Manchester United, return year after year.
This year is a special one for Premier League clubs. Next year’s media coverage money is larger than ever and 20th in the Premier League will receive €85m. That’s twice what the Ligue 1 champions get. As Friio says, “For Newcastle and QPR, relegation would be terrible. They are buying whomever they can just to stay up. QPR cannot afford to go down. Redknapp is incredibly good at forcing the owner to spend his money on players. He’ll put out a B-team in the cup, lose and then point to the result and say: “See that? We got battered!” Newcastle is different. They have a different approach: to buy 10 players at €3m such as Haïdara or Sissoko in the hope that 2 or 3 will be good enough, like Papiss Cissé and Demba Ba, in order to sell them for a big profit. Players with high resell potential values are in France at the moment.”
Sadran then goes on to say “Newcastle are stacking them up. It won’t get them anywhere. We’ll see in two or three years that there was an agenda to all this… At Manchester, you spend 2 years observing players in every game, checking to see if they would be mentally capable to go get the three points in the same manner against the likes of Arsenal or Swansea, because for United, the 3 points are important each time. That’s why, when you’ve scouted him for 2 years and you have decided to buy him, there is never a problem with the price. That’s why I tell my players: “You played well in a big game and afterwards your form waned, but you forgot that they, Manchester and co., saw you play every game, against PSG but also against Sochaux. That’s the reason why you won’t go to a big club, and not because Toulouse are asking for too much money.”
When asked whether or not Manchester United will delve into the French transfer market in the summer, Friio’s answer backs up Sadran’s previous statement: “I don’t know, seeing as it takes me at least 2 years to scout a player. Do you know how many French players have come to Manchester United into the youth team? Only one! Paul Pogba. I brought him in when he was just 16. As soon as players are called up to any level of the France national team, I follow them. For example, I know over 300 players from the 1997 generation.”
As you can see, the French market is something Manchester United are taking rather seriously. Whether or not the same applies for Spain, Italy or Germany, only the club and the staff know. Having missed out on Varane (who decided to ply his trade at Real Madrid) and letting Paul Pogba leave on a free (two players who are unfortunately shining at the moment), there is no reason why, with the current influx of French players to the Premier League, Manchester United wouldn’t delve into the French market next summer. With players such as Zouma or Capoue available at reasonable prices and both capable of ameliorating the squad, one can expect plenty more rumours in the papers during the coming months. And don’t worry, if it’s a recurring story that’s been around for a year or so, it means that Manchester United are probably interested in the player.