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Misunderstood Director of Football

8:30 pm
Delving into forums, as is my want every now and then, I came across talk of Franco Baldini and Daniel Levy. It took just a couple of lines to see that the role of Director of Football is rather misunderstood by many a fan who still hanker for the good old days.

Misunderstood Director of Football


Very few managers run football clubs now, even in the Premier League and a Director of Football is not just a chairman's fall guy. They do not do the scouting and decide which player they want then negotiate deals to bring them to the club, as it seems some supporters think.

Liverpool finished second to Manchester City last year, both have someone doing a Director of Football role, so do Chelsea, Manchester United, their managers do exactly the same as at Tottenham. Managers/coaches do not have time to scout and negotiate deals while a club is playing twice a week and having to prepare the side for each game? How exactly are Portsmouth doing now after Harry Redknapp was in the negotiating chair?

All clubs now have an analytical department which has several roles. One role is to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition and what each opposition player is likely to do in certain situations. Those finding and the recommendations that arise from them are given to the manager/coach. He then formulates his plan how he is going to approach each game, how he is going to set his team up and the tactics he is going to use. That is imparted to the coaches and work on the training ground preparing the team begun.

The manager/coach knows what roles he wants filled in his side so the analytic department and scouts seek out players who can fulfil that role. The department may ask a scout to go and look at a player or the scout may recommend a player to the department that they have seen. The Director of Football may ask his contacts for the identity of such players and recommend them to the analytic department.

In order to survive clubs have to make money so there has to be criteria involved that allows for the increase in value of a player as well as him being able to perform the role the manager/coach requires. Alternatively you find an experienced short-term loan or free transfer, in other words a player whose contract is ending. If you are a club with huge resources then you can just go and buy the finished article but Tottenham don't have those resources to pay those wages.

The analytic department then make those recommendations to the manager/coach to say yes or no to. The manager/coach then puts these players in order, meaning we'll have him first, but if we can't agree a deal, then him, then him and so on depending upon how many there are on the list. That happens for each role that the manager/coach wants filled.

At Tottenham Pochettino also has his say in valuing a player, both our own and a prospective purchase. He agrees a figure we will not go above to buy, as was the case with Morgan Schneiderlin.

Misunderstood Director of Football


Only at this point does the Director of Football become heavily involved. It is his role to negotiate any deal within the financial boundaries the clubs hierarchy deem the balance sheet allows. It is also his role to sell all the players the manager/coach does not want, or is willing to let go to get one of his targets in. Sometimes you have to make a sacrifice to get what you want.

The Director of Football does not, as some fans seem to think, determine who the club should buy, go out and buy them before presenting them to the manager/coach. He is a negotiator, he knows football yes, but his primary role is to sell and negotiate deals.

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Even these deals are not simple though because, certainly at a club like Tottenham, you can't buy a player until you have also agreed the sale of another player. You don't have two sets of wages on the books for no return and you can only have a maximum of 17 non-home grown players over 21 in the Premier League squad. Thus we are in the realms of deals in principle until, like a house sale, a chain of buys and sales can be agreed between a series of clubs.

Remember if we buy a player from another club they have to replace that player so a third club is involved. If we are also selling a player to make room in the squad then that is a fourth club who also have to sell a player to make way for their purchase so that is a fifth club. Some deals can be simple with a small chain some can be difficult with lengthy chains.

It is not a case of we want that player so pay whatever the other club suggest to get them, that's the way to send your club into ruin. Apart from the fact you'd have no money left in future transfer windows, every club would simply hold you to ransom and slap millions on the price of a player, just like Southampton did slapping an extra £9 million on Morgan Schneiderlin after the World Cup.

Any player purchased has been agreed by the manager/coach, the team are still his players and success or failure is still his responsibility.

The Director of Football is just an easy figure to blame for people who don't understand the modern game and hanker for the good old days when managers did it all.



Misunderstood Director of Football Misunderstood Director of Football Reviewed by THBlogNews on 8:30 pm Rating: 5

Part 8 - Fan Bonding & Substitutes Poor Preparation

8:30 pm
Spurs Need To Go Mental - Part 8


In Part 7 of the Spurs Need To Go Mental series I suggested employing mates was not a good business strategy when choosing staff, we should be employing the best and took a brief look at nutrition and attention t detail.

In Part 8 of the Spurs Need To Go Mental series tonight I'll look at Succession Planning, Fan Bonding, Performance Responsibility, Reading The Game and the attention to detail needed to be a success.

I have written about the attention to detail Tottenham must adopt to become successful. Focusing on continual gradual improvement to steal a march over the Premier League competition. It's an area where I firmly believe we have an opportunity to gain an advantage.


To achieve it everyone at the club must continually be looking at their job and asking is there a better way to do this however small that improvement may be.


Fan Bonding & Substitutes Poor Preperation


I'll go back to that Clive Woodward led England Rugby World Cup win (above) in Australia in 2003 where attention to detail was everything. One of his backroom staff, Humphrey Walters, made 1,000 suggestions leading up to the tournament for off field improvements, 1,000.

Even if they were minor improvements, how much difference do you think 1,000 improvements make? Now what if Spurs made 1,000 improvements do you think we would see an improvement?

That improvement of course does not have to be on the pitch, it could be in the use of interpreters as previously mentioned, it could be in treating a particular injury, it could be in travel arrangements, it could be absolutely anything but all of it all adds up to creating the best possible environment for the players to thrive and perform at their optimum on every occasion.

This is what Walters told the BBC in 2006:

"In football, rugby union and cricket, supporters are captive customers.In effect that means governing bodies know they can fill the stadiums regardless of what happens on the pitch and their income is guaranteed. That is a recipe for complacency.

"You would never get away with that at boardroom level in a business in a competitive market. Governing bodies historically have been complacent and assume business will just rumble on.

"No business that is successful is complacent and to ensure that they have non-executive directors.

"Non-executive directors are important because they provide independent and impartial advice, but governing bodies wouldn't have anybody, not in a million years as you'd be attacking their protection zone."

What he is saying is correct and Tottenham are no different. I will stress that it's clear Daniel Levy and the board have a strategy and we are following it but there is still so much more that could be done, so much untapped potential if the club is brave enough to embrace the concept of Kaizen, of continual improvement.


Recent Posts - The Spurs Need To Go Mental Series
Part 6 - £20,000 would have avoided the Lamela fiasco
Part 5 - Spurs need Gareth Bale's attitude 
Part 4 - Spurs need to assess players better
Part 3 - Spurs players should learn from Harry Kane
Part 2 - The mental shift Spurs must make to be successful
Part 1 - Spurs need to go mental


Succession Planning

After every performance after every season you must assess how you performed, what was good and worked, what could be improved upon. The board should be looking at every aspect of the off field business and asking how each element can be improved.

When you achieve success at any level the idea is to replicate it but how are you going to do that if you don't analyse every aspect of that success. Just allowing people to trundle along in jobs is not good enough, even the behind the scenes staff should be on continual improvement programs.

It's no good just trying to improve the playing side, you have to improve everywhere from purchasing, to attracting sponsors, helping the community, communicating and engaging with fans.

The people who have helped you achieve success or who have experienced success should be retained. Why would you replace someone who has achieved success with someone who hasn't? Which one is likely to have the better mental attitude? Yes mental attitude counts off the field as well as on, it should permeate the whole club, but that's another improvement that can be made.

Surround the players with winners if you want the players to be winners.

Fan Bonding

Imagine if each player had to give just 15 minutes each day to answering questions on Twitter, or posting on their Facebook page or creating a training video or promoting the club, engaging with the fans from around the world in or form or another.

You are instantly bringing the players closer to the fans, the fans closer to the club with all the beneficial knock-on effects that has.


Fan Bonding & Substitutes Poor Preperation


Performance Responsibility

Football in this country has captive customers and we produce more footballers than virtually any other nation. Given that why do we produce such mediocrity, why is the England team not the best in the world?

On any given weekend in the Premier League there is something like 38 Englishmen playing was a statistic I saw a year or so ago. Why, if we produce so many people who play football?

In business heads would roll for that kind of performance would have gone but with the FA we seem to have a bunch of cronies in an old pals club.

What we need to do is to give grass roots coaches all the knowledge available which would take major funding from the National Lottery to do probably. In 20 to 30 years we would have transformed English football. The Australians did it and started producing winners after winners in sport after sport.

Reading The Game

For any game of football every player has to be mentally prepared and that will transmit itself through body language. If there is no camaraderie then players are just going to go through the motions. Dawson and Kaboul have that, they slap hands together when one comes on to join the other whereas other players seem out in the cold.

But it's the other substitutes that let themselves down the most. Just sitting there as a sub watching the game, laughing and joking is totally wrong. A substitute shouldn't be watching the game, he should be studying it (unlike this lot below).


Fan Bonding & Substitutes Poor Preperation


He should be mentally preparing himself for battle so that if he comes on he is ready to perform to his optimum. He should have watched exactly what his potential opponent does, looked for any strength, any weakness. He should know as much about the game as he possibly can, not watching it as if he is watching a soap on his TV at home.

Head Coach

Perhaps what the club need is a Head Coach, not a replacement for the manager but a coach who simply oversees coaching and looks at how all aspects of coaching could be improved, how the Kaizen approach can be implemented.

In a company that would come under the Quality Control Manager, do we have anyone fulfilling that role and if we do what are they doing?

Everyone in the company should be looking and suggesting ways to improve every single aspect, these get fed to a boss or quality control or the head coach, analysed and if they are an improvement implemented.

There may well be someone on the business side doing something but who is dong it on the coaching side, because the manager doesn't have the time to do it.

I'll say it again, there are so many aspects that Tottenham could change where we could lead the Premier League, lead the world in, if we look to continually improve every single aspect.

In everything that right mental approach is the key to everything.

In Part 9 of the Spurs Need To Go Mental Series tomorrow night I'll take a look at how a Sports Psychologist would look at a player to assess him mentally. 


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Part 8 - Fan Bonding & Substitutes Poor Preparation Part 8 - Fan Bonding & Substitutes Poor Preparation Reviewed by THBlogNews on 8:30 pm Rating: 5
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