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INTERVIEW: Probably watching eight or nine games a week

Greg Abbott on scouting, getting systems in place and settling in to familiar surroundings

23 November 2022

Club News

INTERVIEW: Probably watching eight or nine games a week

Greg Abbott on scouting, getting systems in place and settling in to familiar surroundings

23 November 2022

It’s now six months since United’s head of recruitment Greg Abbott slotted into his new role with the Blues, and in a catch-up this week he detailed some of the steps forward that have been made when it comes to helping the manager with putting together the right blend of players to give the club a fighting chance.

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“Settling back into the club was pretty easy,” he told us. “There’s a lot of the same faces and a lot of good people still here doing good jobs.

“That was really easy, and settling into working with a new manager has been ridiculously easy as well, because he just lets me get on with my job.

“The club was in a really good place when I came and we’ve just tried to continue that and improve on what’s already been done.

“Simmo is probably the easiest manager I’ve ever had to work with. He’s told me to do it my way, try to find the players that fit the profile he needs, and between us we’ll try to dissect it and hopefully bring some good ones in that will make us better.

“Paul said that he needed someone who could jump in straight away and that’s how it has to be in this business.

“I know full well that you’re pulled in every direction as a manager, you’re dealing with all sorts, so he asked me to lead this area of the job for him.

“Along with Jacob [Blain] we’ve put something together and every bit of information we get on a player or a team goes onto a Google Drive. All of the staff can see that as it’s updated, so it moves with every match or player we see, and every report that comes in.

“I think that’s a really efficient way of working and it helps everybody, because whatever they need is there and ready to use from the minute it’s uploaded.”

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Having had experience in similar roles at Solihull Moors and Bradford, he said: “It was the first time I’d worked at that level, and that was probably the hardest bit of working for Neal Ardley.

“He was brilliant, but being in the National League was quite difficult to adjust to. But I learned a lot from it and I thank Neal so much for the opportunity he gave me.

“He won’t mind me saying that it didn’t take much persuading to bring me here once I knew that Paul needed somebody. I know the place, the geographics and the people.

“Along with that I know the level and the market, so it gives you a bit of a head start. It’s all grown for us since May, we have three very good people out on the ground scouting for us as well now, so it’s in a good place. We think it’s working quite well.”

Joining the club at the end of last season meant it was a case of hitting the ground running, something he took in his stride.

“There was a lot of work to do in the summer, but I think we’ve got to a place where we’ve got a good team of players together and a good set of staff,” he commented. “If you can get the pre-season programme right, and the recruitment right, then you’ve got a chance of having a decent season.

“We did have to work quite hard initially, but I’m not sure working in football can be called hard. It’s enjoyable and the challenge is enjoyable. Between us we’ve done alright, we’re on the right lines at the minute, and long may that continue.

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“Helping with that is the fact we’ve looked at the scouting, which is also a responsibility I’ve taken on.

“I’m probably watching eight or nine games a week, sometimes a couple a day. That’s the easy bit, it’s about watching players obviously, but also picking information up from the other people who are there.

“There are some people who can’t wait to tell you who the best player is. I just act daft, which doesn’t come too difficult to me, then jot the name down and do my research.

“Generally I should know about them anyway, but getting out and about is where you pick up information and make contacts. There’s always agents, other scouts and coaches at games, so there’s always people you can speak to.

“I tend to come up here on a Thursday and Friday to catch up with everything, and I really enjoy coming up. It’s good to get out to watch the lads train and find out what’s going on.

“It’s important for me to keep in touch with what’s going on so I’m ready to react to anything that happens here, whether it’s good or not so good.

“As I say, we’ve got three lads who are working for us part-time as well. They’re watching games and pointing me in the right direction, because I can’t be everywhere.

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“The names we come up with, we want to see them as much as we can to get as many reports as we can on them. We’ve got some good people working with us with some good experience. They’re decent people and they really enjoy doing it.

“I really value them because without them my job would be almost impossible. We’ve got access to WyScout, but there’s nothing like being at a game and seeing them in the flesh.

“It’s about watching how players react to defeats or losing the ball, they’re the times where you really judge an individual, not when everything is going well.”

“I’m pleased with how things are going for the club because it’s been a tough few years,” he added. “When Paul asked me to come back it took me five minutes to ring him back and tell him I’d do it.

“I really wanted to do it, I’ve got a lot of time for the staff and a lot of time for the people behind the scenes. It was a no brainer. We’ve done alright up to now but that’s all we’ve done.

“There’s still such a long way to go before we can say we’ve been successful, but things look like they’re improving. The depth to the squad is pretty decent, I’ve just watched us train and we don’t look in a bad place at all.

“You play it down because you’ve been in it a long time and you know round the corner there’s a kick in the teeth coming somewhere, it will come but we’ll be ready to deal with it, whatever it is.

“At the minute, results and good and performances are good. We’re also getting results even when performances aren’t good. I was at the Harrogate game, we didn’t play great, but we found a way to not lose the game, which is a good habit to have.

“I’m really enjoying everything because it’s a club I really care for and a group of players and staff I get on really well with. They’ve all made I easy for me to get involved when I’m here even though that isn’t as much as I’d like it to be, because that’s the nature of my role.

“Everyone knows I’m there if they need a little chat or whatever, but it’s just a good place to be at the minute. When you’re winning games you know you’ve got to enjoy it because we all know it isn’t always like that. Long may it continue.”

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