Phil Watson – Former Pro, GK Coach and ScoutDalton Harris
My name is Phil Watson I am a former professional footballer, I am currently qualified as level 2 Outfield Coach, Level 2 Gk Coach and FA Talent Id accredited, and I have worked for Burnley for 14 months in this part time capacity.
I am the scouting coordinator for the Liverpool area for Burnley Fc. This means covering games from West Lancashire, Liverpool, Warrington, Wigan and the surrounding area which I a large area with a lot of good quality leagues contained within them, I also am lead development coach at our Liverpool area Talent ID centre.
A typical week for me is broken down into
Monday – liaising with my scouting team receiving reports from games and any players they have highlighted in their reports
Tuesday – Reporting to the Heads of recruitment for Foundation and Youth development phases, again highlighting any players that may have come to our attention
Wednesday – Assigning fixtures to scouts should there be age/position specific areas to scout. If not allowing my scouts to work their particular areas following up on potential targets or out identifying new talent
Thursday – I receive any new information on existing players in the academy including any releases but also news on players doing well so that we don’t waste time scouting positions we are well covered in at that particular moment
SAT/SUN – Out at fixtures Identifying players, I will also usually take in a couple of our academy teams to keep my knowledge of the players and their development up to date, usually having a chat with the coaches post-match to get their input on what recruitment areas they feel need to be prioritised
Finding/hearing about talent is a very varied process. With us being sandwiched between 5 big Category 1 Academies I am quite friendly with recruitment staff and coaches who work for these clubs who will pass on info of boys that are already at their academies should they find themselves in a position where they are to be released from the clubs programs. Also working set areas allows us to build up good relationships with clubs so am always getting approached about boys. I find the best and more importantly most impartial opinion comes from referees!! They usually have no vested interest such as being a parent coach and have seen players several times so have enough time to provide a fairly accurate analysis of the player’s abilities. Therefore I keep quite a close relationship with a lot of referees covering u6 all the way through to u23 premier league referees. We will also get recommendations to scout players from contacts within the game.
I got into scouting through coaching, after my career finished I went into kids coaching and had several players picked up by clubs and was approached to do some scouting for Blackpool FC initially before moving to Burnley. I find that having a coaching background is beneficial to me as a scout as I am able to identify strengths but also weaknesses in a players game but look at it from a coaches point of view thinking are they coachable flaws such as technique or un coachable flaws such a size i.e. a 5ft 4 centre half may struggle to dominate in the air
There are so many pros to being a scout, you get to watch lots of talented players, and despite Greg Dykes sweeping statement that we as a country do not produce talented players I see thousands of them a season. You get to make and maintain relationships with people in the game such as the volunteer grassroots coaches that do it for the pure love of the game. You also get to see the development of boys that maybe where not quite ready for an academy structure at 8/9 years of age but then at 11 are tailor made to be an elite footballer.
The only downside is the weather which can be so unpredictable, so for anybody looking to become a scout I highly advise some good thermal, waterproofs and an excellent flask!! Many a day I have come home covered in mud, soaked to the bone freezing cold only to have a shower, get changed and then head out to my next game.
Personally for me my greatest achievement in scouting happened this season. I watched a boy play for Southport Fc u18 and he immediately caught my attention he was 6ft 3, looked athletic. After observing him in the game he was quick, strong dominating to opposition attackers. He was vocal leading his defence but he could also play showing a fine array of passing ability. I immediately contacted the club to get him in on trial. Through highlighting this player a lot of Big clubs where alerted to his presence and he has since signed an 18 month Pro deal at Chelsea FC – the players name is Kyle Jameson.
In my opinion any player that wants to progress into elite football needs to have 3 things
Determination – you will train3/4 times a week. The demands will be relentless as will the requirement to be consistent in your performance but also have the mental strength to shoulder a poor performance
Be a Good Learner – Take on board what the coaches are trying to teach you, as at the academies they are all about extracting every last drop of talent you have. This applies at grass roots no matter how good you are keep working on your technique
Be Respectful – Football is littered with good players who didn’t progress because they didn’t respect their team mates, coaches, referees or opposition