Everton’s Director of Football Marcel Brands has some very clear ideas about what exactly he wants from his scouting department, and the kind of player he wants to bring to Goodison Park.
In an exclusive interview with the Liverpool Echo, the Dutchman spoke about how familiar he is with new lead European scout Gretar Steinsson, who he plucked from Fleetwood Town where he was Technical Director -
“I knew Gretar as a player, I had him in my time at AZ and after his playing career he was very eager to learn things.
”I heard a lot of good stories about him here in England. I met him at a youth game here and we started talking. And so when I changed the (scouting) structure here I thought that the role could fit him.
“We had a good conversation, we brought him in and then I said to Denise to give me her thoughts and first impressions and she was also very positive.
“We moved on and finally we signed him for the job. He was eager to get started because I had thought he would start on January 1 but he said he wanted to start right away, so that is what I like.”
Brands went on to speak at length about the mentality he is looking to cultivate within his scouts and the calibre of players he wants to bring to Everton.
“I was lucky that there were already a few good people here and I am always looking for good people, who want to work hard and who are ambitious.
“He’s [Gretar] like a pitbull, if he sees something and wants something he goes for it, which is a little bit like my character.
“I like to have those kind of people around me because I have done a lot of transfers in the past where people have said: ‘That is impossible’ and even now, the people didn’t expect players from Barcelona.
“I wanted people around me who also believe in those kind of things. We will not always succeed but if you don’t go for it then you will never succeed and Gretar is such a guy and he is a people’s man, a team player and doesn’t have an ego and wants to work with other people. He started two weeks ago and has already met three international scouts because he was travelling and I like that.”
In his first transfer window at Everton in the summer, Brands has come off looking like an unmitigated success with every player brought on already playing a key role in the current campaign. Even young goalkeeper Joao Virginia has quickly made it into the senior squad and will likely replace veteran Maarten Stekelenburg next season.
His secret goes deeper than the transfers database he maintains with all the relevant statistics on thousands of players.
“I try to watch as many games as possible and I am travelling a lot in the periods where that is possible.
“Sometimes I find a player and start following them, other times it is a player we have already been monitoring. If he is playing in a league you know and he has a history behind him, you don’t need to go and watch him 10 times but if it’s a player from South America we have to take a closer look and I will send scouts over to watch training and that sort of thing because you then get more of a feeling about the person behind the player.
“That is also an I important detail in recruitment because we can all find good players but it has to fit together and I am happy to now see there is a very good atmosphere in the Everton dressing room.
“They are good boys with a positive attitude and there are no strange things and that is so important for the structure of a team and that is why I always get very close to the manager to see if a player is fitting with the character of the manager.
“ How does the manager look at him? How are the scouts looking at him? And if he is in a specific position, can he play with the other guy? That is an important detail and most of time it is about names, names, names but they have to fit.”
As the January transfer window nears, we will be keeping a close eye on the players that Brands brings in to see if we can glean some of the characteristics he speaks about here.