Arsenal reshuffle roles as scouting becomes more data-driven
Written by Simon Austin — January 20, 2021
LAST August, Arsenal announced they were revamping their scouting department, leading to the departures of some big-hitters.
Out went Head of Recruitment Francis Cagigao, Head of UK Recruitment Pete Clark and top scout Brian McDermott, as well as Ty Gooden (who covered France and Belgium), Leonardo Scirpoli (Germany), Alex Stafford (Scotland), Julio de Marco (Spain) and Alessandro Sbrizzo (Italy).
Technical Director Edu later explained: “The reasons for changing our infrastructure are clear. I want to work with fewer people. I want to work a lot more with StatDNA (Arsenal’s in-house data and analytics company), it is very important.”
The change of direction was clear: now the club’s scouting was going to be more data and video driven, with less emphasis on ‘live eyes’ and fewer scouts based in territories around the world.
"I don’t want individual people working in one area or for one country,” Edu added. "I want a group working together. Fewer people with much more responsibilities. That is my vision.”
Those changes have now started, with Mark Curtis, Arsenal’s Lead Analyst for the previous two years, moving to become first-team scout.
Curtis’s background has always been in analysis. He joined the Gunners in March 2013 from performance analysis pioneers Prozone, initially working in the Academy before being promoted to the first team in June 2015 and then to Lead Analyst in January 2019, when Ben Knapper became Loans Manager at the club.
As first-team scout, he is responsible for applying video and data analysis ‘to optimise scouting resource’ and ‘working with developers to build internal centralised platforms and reporting mechanisms.’
Live scouting at matches is still an important element of the job, although this has been curtailed because of the coronavirus pandemic, as we’ve previously reported on TGG.
James Krause has been promoted from Under-23s analyst to replace Curtis as Lead Analyst with the first team. Krause joined the club in September 2015 from Ipswich.
The debate about the switch to more video and data-driven scouting is an interesting one and has been intensified by covid.
In an article for TGG last October, Blackburn’s European Scout Glyn Chamberlain wrote: "There is no substitute for ‘live eyes’, even during these exceptional times."