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MANAGER: He has a really important role

Paul Simpson on his new head of recruitment

17 May 2022

The arrival of Greg Abbott as head of recruitment was another step in the right direction as far as manager Paul Simpson was concerned, and the work on establishing a recruiting process commenced immediately after his arrival at the club.

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“I’m delighted he’s here,” he the gaffer said. “He has so much knowledge and experience. He’s got so much passion for wanting to do this recruiting role, and he’s got a huge soft spot for Carlisle United.

“I needed to know that his relationship with the directors was a good one, and he’s kept in touch with them and gets on with them, which makes this so much easier. He knows what it takes to be part of Carlisle and I think the way he works could be something that really helps us.

“He’ll be based in the Yorkshire area, and his job will be to have a group of part-time scouts who will be at games for us.

“They will cover different areas because there’s no point in having one guy located in Yorkshire and then he also has to do trips south or further west.

“We’ll have somebody in each area, including Scotland, and Greg will put his plan together along with me and the other staff on how that will work.

“We’re going to maximise what we’ve got here, but what I don’t want to do is expect a member of staff to come it at 8am, work all day, head off to a game, get home gone midnight then be in at 8 the next day.

“The staff who face the players need energy, and they need to be fresh and focused, so it’s finding the balance to make sure we do everything well, and not lose bits from each area because we’re giving people too much to do.

“We’ll get a proper plan in place for recruitment, led by Greg, and hopefully we’ll get the signings right.”

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“My thought process when I was thinking about bringing in this type of role was I needed somebody who knows the leagues, who’s done the job before,” he added. “I also needed somebody who knows what it’s like to work here, who understands what it takes to get a player up here, and without a doubt Greg ticks all those boxes.

“I think with the right sort of backing and work with the rest of the staff, I think he’ll be a fantastic acquisition to the backroom staff. 

“He’s not somebody I know well personally, so we’re going to build a relationship as we go along. My idea in football is this isn’t an old boys club, an old mates club, it’s not about bringing people in just to give my pals a job.

“I know of Greg, I’ve come up against him, whether he was here or at other clubs. I like the way he is, he’s got incredible enthusiasm for football and the job, he loves working, and I think over time we can develop a really good relationship, and the truth will come when we get our group together.

“It won’t be Greg Abbott who will be solely in charge of doing the recruitment and getting the players. He will do the spadework, a lot of the background work, and we’ll come together with our ideas and targets and then try and get it over the line.

“He has a really important role but I’m not doing this to try and take pressure off me if signings don’t work and I can blame somebody else. I’m doing it because I think it’s right for the football club.

“When I spoke to him the first time a few weeks ago I could tell he was keen to get on board. I’d been speaking with other people as well.

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“I had three or four people I was speaking to, getting advice from friends in the game who are all working at a really good level.

“This scouting role, I used to always find them quite amusing because whenever you go out to games, you saw the same group of people at the same games, they must clock up hundreds and thousands of miles.

“I’ve got people I know on the recruitment scene, and I’ve asked them for opinions and got some feedback. I then got down to a point where I had three or four in mind, I spoke to them all, through the conversations I just decided Greg ticks more boxes than the others, and he was so enthusiastic about coming back.

“I needed to ask the question what’s your relationship with the directors, because obviously as a manager we’ve all been sacked and sometimes that relationship can get broken.

“He said no, I’ve got a brilliant relationship, we’ve kept in touch, I’d love the opportunity to come back. That was my thinking.

“He just wants to get on with it, and I think I’m going to have to get to a point where I lock the door so he can’t come in and bend my ear!

“But I want that, I want people who are really enthusiastic about watching football, speaking to agents. He will take so much off me on that side of it, it’s part and parcel of the job, but will give me the opportunity to try and focus on the football.”

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And with him having held a similar role at Solihull, it means he’s current in terms of being out on the ground and covering the miles.

“He’s been watching games all season,” he confirmed. “Unfortunately for Solihull Moors, where he’s been working on a consultancy basis, I’m going to be tapping into the work he’s done for them.

“I’m sure he’s left them with enough information, but he’s got an idea, the contacts, the desire to speak to people.

“He’s been locked in the meeting room with Jacob Blain looking through some player clips, and he’s done the same with me, and the first thing we looked at was getting a system set up for us to all have an interactive working place.

“It’s that stage of the year where every 10 minutes his and my phone’s going with agents ringing trying to suggest somebody else. We’re trying to get a big pool of players together, really focusing on the targets we want to go for, and we’ll hit the ground running soon where we get on with it.”

Key to the relationship will be the occasions when there needs to be a challenge, should differences in opinion come to the fore.

“I don’t want a yes man,” he insisted. “I don’t have all the answers, I am one part of this football club. I’ve got experience, I’ve got knowledge of the job, but I do not profess to know everything about it.

“I want somebody who will challenge me. It’s something I picked up over the years working for the FA, working with Steve McClaren.

“To have a successful environment you have to have people who are prepared to challenge each other, and it makes everybody better.

“If Greg or Gav Skelton or Paul Gerrard say something that challenges me, it makes me go away and think about it and hopefully come up with a better solution, or it could also make me think I’m right and I’m going to stick with it.

“I want them to challenge. The buck stops with me, but if we’re going to be successful we’re going to have to be prepared to challenge each other.”

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