. . . . Klaus Drechsler speaks to
EDDY WHYTE about
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL
Page 2 of 2
This is not the first time that Eddy has raised this topic. Although he initially focussed on the area of youth development with his junior SSD programme, a system that we now also use in Germany, back as the nineties he also preached about the need for radical change within British club structures, the importance of departmental specialisation and the appointment of a Technical Director. So this was clearly a concept which he learned during his previous playing and coaching experience throughout Europe, and feels very strongly about.
"It took many years to get the message across that the youth development process within the UK had to change, and that only came about because of the wide support from team mangers right across the country. However, trying to later restrict their future role within the game by employing a Technical Director to oversee all football related matters was a whole new challenge and one that was in direct conflict with their strong traditional beliefs. Right from the off it hit the inevitable steel barrier. Most chairmen call it the managerial dilemma, but I think the biggest dilemma is the financial consequences".
"Happy families equals high severance payments
. . . and eventually the money runs out"
"Firstly, the manager will insist on bringing in his friends to replace all the existing staff, so when later sacked, that means high level severance payments for the manager, assistant, first-team coaches, goalkeeper coach, sport's scientist, and fitness staff. Then he will claim that the team's lack of previous success was down to a poor squad, so millions of additional Euros needed to replace it. After a year of poor performance the whole cycle starts again . . . a new manager, more severance payments, a complete turnaround of staff, etc, until eventually the money runs out. In the worst case scenario, when the manager leaves, so does his friend in the recruitment department, and with him also goes the relevant database files and contacts which has taken the club years to assemble".
So disillusioned with the whole process, Eddy has now sold his English based consultancy business to the WVT Group in Germany, but if he could give club chairmen in the UK just 5 final pointers in this direction, what would they be?
STEP 1 - Round Pegs in Round Holes!
It is time to end the old tradition of happy families, nepotism, and employing mangers on the basis of their previous playing experience and contact books. Start running your club in the same way that you would any other business. Coaches spend all their time on the training ground and the head of recruitment runs the scouting network - he is not the head of football operations, a director of football, or a technical director, he is a recruitment officer!
STEP 2 - Employ a Technical Director!
If lack the necessary background then a CEO should employ a Technical Director to oversee all aspects of the football section; appointing the first team coach, assistant coaches, medical staff, sport's science, fitness, medical team, academy staff, recruitment, scouting network, and club ambassador. He also oversees all transfer matters and controls the transfer budget in conjunction with the Financial Director.
STEP 3 - Employing the Right Person!
The right candidate is not necessarily an experienced team manager, because they may pose a threat to the first team coach, but definitely someone with a strong cross-section of football experience: knowledge of modern technical coaching aspects (preferably with overseas experience and the implementation of cultural adaptation), youth development programmes and professional transitional stepping (currently an 85% failure rate within the UK), player assessment skills, and experience of modern day continental style club structures. He has the same objective as the first-team coach, to build a successful team and attract the right calibre of player to the club, so it has to be somebody that can work very closely with the coach, whilst, at the same time, maintaining harmony within the boardroom. A delicate balancing act.
STEP 4 - Contacts!
Building an impressive list of contacts and having an effective scouting system in place comes from the Technical Director's ability to bring together the right people - the right head of recruitment, the right chief scout, the right first team coach, and the right club ambassador. It is not a single source or one person from a particular part of the world, it is a collation process involving multiple areas of expertise and knowledge.
STEP 5 - Retaining Continuity Within The Structure!
With such a system in place, when the first team coach eventually leaves the club, you retain continuity within the structure as all the remaining support staff stay in position ('individually' appointed by the Technical Director, not the first team coach). As far as the 'contacts' issue is concerned, that is also fully controlled by the Technical Director under a secure database with restricted access.
"Appointing the right Technical Director is without question the biggest decision that a CEO will ever have to undertake, akin to handing over the baby to a carer, and one that in the majority of cases will necessitate professional independent and impartial advice. Get it right and you will reap massive benefits, even for the smallest clubs. If get it wrong then you could be throwing the baby out with the bath water. Successful businesses are built around people making big decisions".
We may currently have a successful system within Germany, and indeed, be the envy of the world when it comes to having a very effective youth development programme and professional club structure, but that is for now! What about tomorrow? As quick as I was to criticise the English way of doing things, it is only right that I also point out our failings. We also have team coaches within our system that do exactly the same as they do in England, deal with agents, head up the recruitment department, and have the final say on all transfer matters. And it wasn't so long ago that we suddenly stopped producing talented young players and our national team felt the immediate effect. But did we listen to advice from outsiders, no! We dug our heels in because we are Germany, a nation with a strong cultural identity and a staunch pro-active stance that we believe others should follow! The time between that period and eventually accepting the need for change was a transitional period, time for thought, time for investment, time to re-structure, and time to think about better ways of doing things . . . and that it exactly what is happening in the English game right now. Today, we use large elements of the SSD programme created by Eddy Whyte as part of our development process, and maybe we could also learn something about his approach towards Technical Directors as well, because we don't fulfil all the criteria. We also have different interpretations.
As Eddy says, change is a continuous process and if you standstill you get overtaken. There is no question that in the near future all the top English teams will once again be challenging in the Champions League. What then for Bayern, Dortmund, and the Bundesliga?
"Not so long ago Italian football was top of the hit parade, then the English, then the Spanish game, and now the new flavour of the month is the Bundesliga. In Spain the attraction was Real Madrid and Barca, but interest soon wavered because it was only two teams.
In Germany, at present, all the talk is about Bayern and Dortmund, just two teams. In England we have Manchester United, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Spurs, with others rapidly catching them up. It is the most competitive and exciting domestic league in the world and the Bundesliga cannot compete with it in the long-term.
The only difference between the German and English leagues at this point in time, is not about quality or the level of entertainment, but the way in which clubs are most efficiently managed"
You know what? I think he is right. So instead of dwelling on English problems, should we not be focussing more on our own future? We need more than just Bayern and Dortmund competing in our top league, and no matter how good we think our youth development programme currently is, others will soon catch us up. We need to keep moving forward!
Two years ago Eddy turned down the opportunity to become a Technical Director with one of our top clubs, and since this interview, has also sold his consultancy business (EWSM) to the WVT Group in Germany, whom he has worked alongside for many years.
We wish him well in whatever direction he now decides to take.
Eddy Whyte can still be contacted via his SSD Link: Contact Eddy Whyte