Talent spotting. A skill that has been at the heart of top flight football for a number years, that was until ridiculous sums of money started to enter the game. First Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and then Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City have had a huge impact on English football. Instead of having to scout around for the best value players, Chelsea and City have been guilty of throwing money at the big names and hoping they come good. However, under a trio of Mike Ashley, Graham Carr and Alan Pardew, Newcastle are doing their best to bring the age old tradition of top quality football scouting back to the beautiful game.
There are so many examples of fantastic Newcastle scouting from recent years that it’s hard to know where to start. However, given that at St James’ Park at the weekend, a player who cost less than £5 million completely ran the show, then let’s start with Yohan Cabaye. Let’s not kid ourselves, when Newcastle signed Cabaye he was 25-years-old, had won Ligue 1, had played in the Champions League and was a France international. He wasn’t an unknown player, but for some reason no-one else had taken the risk to bring him to the Premier League. What a mistake that proved to be.
Yohan Cabaye has been absolutely sensational in the middle of the park for Newcastle. He gets from box-to-box, can strike a good ball and boy can he spot a pass. His assist for Papiss Cisse showed that and his technical ability for his second goal was second to none, as it was for his debut goal against Wigan earlier in the season. Cabaye has just gone from strength to strength, especially excelling in recent weeks in the more advanced role that he’s found himself in. Cabaye is a player who would be right at home in the Champions League and while Carr said Newcastle got a £10m-rated player for £4.5m, you better believe that the Frenchman’s worth a whole lot more now!
Cabaye is just one of a number of successful scouting examples at Newcastle. Cheick Tiote has shown that he can cut it in the top flight of English football and Papiss Cisse’s scoring record in his first 10 games in the Premier League says it all. Hatem Ben Arfa has always been a prodigious talent, but the Frenchman needed Newcastle to believe in him so he could show the world what he can do, while young Italian defender Davide Santon is also coming along nicely. So how have Newcastle managed to unearth so many talented players from the continent?
Well, there’s no substitute for hard work. Chief Scout Graham Carr is watching European football every weekend, with manager Alan Pardew joining him when he can, and it really is down to seeing as many players as you can. We’re always told that Newcastle watched Tiote for a number of years, which is what you need to do so that you know a player inside-out. To be successful in the football scouting world you also need to take a risk and stick to your guns, while a little bit of luck can never be sniffed at!