Johnson: Millwall have to "nail" UK before scouting abroad

© Edmund Boyden
© Edmund Boyden

JAMIE Johnson believes Millwall do not have the resources to effectively scout abroad and must concentrate on "nailing" the talent pool in the United Kingdom first.

The Lions' chief scout says he would be running the risk of missing out on a potential signing that is right under his nose if he spends too much time watching players in Europe.

But Johnson insists he will not hesitate to use his network of contacts to learn more about a foreign star. He told NewsAtDen "We try to open up as much as we can. It comes down to manpower.



"And if you are going to do it, you have got to do it properly. Do I go out and spend three weeks in France but then miss Chris Wood down the road? It's a difficult one.

"We are doing as much as we can on that side of things. We have been to France and Portugal, plus Scotland and Ireland obviously, if you can count them.

"But I have got lots of contacts in Europe from my time at Tottenham so if there's a player out there that I want to know more about, I can always ask.



"I don't think there has ever been someone who we haven't heard of or who our contacts couldn't tell us about. The actual scouting itself in foreign countries requires having somebody there.

"That costs money and is dependent on hiring the right people. It is tough for a club of our size to do that, unless you have trialists in all the time.

"But that can be disruptive. We bring in trialists every now and then but if you have got a continuous flow of them, it can upset the other players and the coaching.

"We are trying but it is a difficult process. You have to nail your own market first and then you can branch out if you've got the budget."

Millwall's scouting department has effectively become a one-man operation since Tim Breacker, who had been watching games in the north, was named as first-team coach last summer.

But Johnson has found ways of adapting to ensure he does not let a potential signing slip through the net. He said: "We've moved things around a little bit.

"It was great to have Tim around for that year – it was really helpful and, because of where he lived, it saved me going to watch the reserves at Manchester United every Thursday.

"What I've done now is I've got two guys in the north who have been around for a number of years. They are good people. That's how I cover things."

Nevertheless, Johnson says the Lions would never sign a player without him scouting them first.

"We never gamble on a player we have never seen," he said. "Definitely not. Never. It all depends on timing sometimes but I personally like to go three times if possible.

"Sometimes you go too many times and start picking people's faults out, which is easy to do. So I think three is about right.

"Sometimes it can be two, sometimes it can be 22. Wood, for instance, I lost count of the number of times I watched him over the years. It's not an exact science.

"I probably watch three specific players a week, but when you go to an U21 game you are watching everybody usually.

"Take Aston Villa's reserves for instance – I know them all now so if there's a new player, I will watch him specifically for 20 minutes."

Staff

(@NewsAtDen)

22 thoughts on “Johnson: Millwall have to "nail" UK before scouting abroad

  • February 5, 2013 at 11:12
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    "Nevertheless, Johnson says the Lions would never sign a player without him scouting them first."

    Did you have you eyes shut when you scouted N'Guessan, McQuoid, J.Stewart, Agyemang, and Grabban?

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    • February 5, 2013 at 11:39
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      Agyemang and J.Stewart were a complete joke whereas the rest are plausable.... McQuoid and Grabban were very promising players but just didn't work out and both were injured whilst playing for us, now both are doing pretty well for Bournemouth

      N'Guessan isn't great but if he was playing week in week out he could become a handful and score more goals, but you need to be patient with him but don't think KJ has got that while we have Keogh, Hulse and Marquis in better form

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  • February 5, 2013 at 11:15
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    I don't like the way he keeps mentioning Chris Wood! Wood plays for Leicester - maybe you shoudl stop watching him and find us a replacement you tool!!!!!

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  • February 5, 2013 at 11:34
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    This is an interesting statement from JJ, what does he mean by 'Nailing'??? If he means signing top quality players for cheap every season within our wage budget who we can sell later down the line for £2-3mill then great or does he just mean players who can do a job for us... such a vague term!!

    It's like me saying I'm going to do a job today.... could mean I'm going to clean toilets out or could mean I'm running my own business.

    'Nailing' is such a loose term

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  • February 5, 2013 at 11:43
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    Frankly apart from his Spurs contacts JJ hasn't really done much for us! So i imagine this "nailing" could take a very long time!!

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  • February 5, 2013 at 11:53
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    If he watched Wood countless times as claimed then why didnt we sign him earlier when the price was £500k... i.e in the summer, same old Millwall, not prepared to take a risk and then when he became successful price went up and up!

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    • February 5, 2013 at 11:59
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      Exactly!! Youngsters who are technically good should be signed up even for £500k, a bit of a risk but surely worth it rather than signing older players like Hulse, Agyemang and Jordan Stewart!!

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      • February 5, 2013 at 12:17
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        I'm with you on that! its a shame that JJ claims to have known all about Wood for a long time and not got the deal done!! Surely if he'd watched him that much and knew what he was all about AA and JB would have made it happen earlier..... why is JJ trying to get all the press all of a sudden?! as our only scout stop wasting time chatting up Aldo and get on finding us a hit man!!

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  • February 5, 2013 at 11:57
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    Spurs have always produced some good youngsters but if that's all he has in his locker why is he head Scout?? I think Millwall need to look abroad a lot more, I know this costs money but if we can sign a player for £100k-£250k and sell him for £500k + later down the line then I think it's worth exploring.

    There are a load of good youngsters to come out of the lower leagues recently like Ryan Hall (now Leeds) and Kane Ferdinand (Now Peterborough) who came from Southend and Jordan Bowery (Now Aston Villa). Michael Bostwick (Millwall Fan) is now with Peterborough and he is a strong midfielder who battles for the ball, like abdou but stronger!

    Once you see a technically good player from lower divisions who works hard, then why aren't we signing them before others, JJ even said there isn't an exact science for scouting.... must have been talking about signing Agyemang and Jordan Stewart...

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    • February 5, 2013 at 16:39
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      Yes, Peterborough have picked up a lot of lower league players with potential, but where has it got them? Their strategy - if you can call it a strategy - is akin to throwing a bucket full of mud at a wall and seeing what sticks. They have spent a fortune on transfer fees and still can't establish themselves in the Championship. Paying £1 million for Tyrone Barnett last year, only to put him on the transfer list this year. Buying Emile Sinclair from Macclesfield, only to loan him to Doncaster for the rest of this season. Ferdinand and Bostwick looked decent in Leagues 1 and 2, but they are hardly tearing up the Championship either. Whereas, with our supposedly terrible scouting system, we've spent very little and are in the top 10.

      Similarly, in theory, the point about scouting abroad and in the lower leagues is a fair one. But even in those previously untapped markets, there is less value now. A couple of examples: Nick Proschwitz, who came off the bench for Hull on Saturday, cost £2.6 million. £2.6 million for a German 2nd division player no-one in this country had heard of. Jordan Bowery to Villa £500k on a 4th division kid with hardly a full season of football to his name. Villa also signed a 22-year-old midfielder, Yacouba Sylla, from the French 2nd division in the January window. With just one season as a professional and no top flight experience, he cost £2 million. Premier League clubs are now fishing in our waters and that extra competition is inflating prices way beyond the £150-250K mentioned earlier. Millwall's methods might be cautious and unglamorous by comparison, but they have served us well so far.

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  • February 5, 2013 at 12:08
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    I dont think this is down to the head scout after all would have recommended Trotter, Beevers, etc etc, it is down to the club to act on the recommendations and produce the cash to back up the hard work put in scouting.

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  • February 5, 2013 at 13:53
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    Millwall have had their fingers burnt when buying from the continent, remember the Berry Powell and Bob Peters. Both had very average careers with Millwall and where quickly shipped back out. Now this was probably down to bad management on our behalf, but i say stick to the UK and if we get into the big time then look abroad.

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    • February 5, 2013 at 14:04
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      I absolutely agree with you on Bob Peters, not so much Berry Powel.... he had unbelieveable talent, scored 29 goals the season after we let him go.

      The reason we let him go is because we wasn't able to pay his wages in league one and it was a part of his contract that if we got relegated then he could go for free.

      As a club we have changed and developed over the last 6 years, becoming a club with stability so why cant we look for gems abroad?

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  • February 5, 2013 at 14:19
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    Still don't know what this fella is trying to prove by wasting the clubs man power by talking to the press "AGAiN" get on with your job or is your two northern mates doing it for you. I'm not interested in the b******* JJ go and get the couple players the club need.Your obviously struggling to do a good job otherwise you wouldn't feel the need to justify once a week what your upto.
    Come on pal pull your finger out. you probably missed out on another player whist talking to Alex.

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      • February 5, 2013 at 15:29
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        Thanks Alex
        Can we expect part 3 next week

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  • February 5, 2013 at 20:25
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    Can't believe some of the whingeing going on. Our squad were world beaters according to some 5 weeks ago! For a club of low gates and limited funds I don't think we've done too bad on the transfer or loan stakes, and how you can cite Peterborough as a model of transfer accumen; have you seen the table (and Villa come to that!)???. Adam Smith, Beevers, Shittu, Trotter, Abdou, Keogh, Wood, Kane, Taylor, Lowry; I could go on. At our level, at any level, they don't all work out, sometimes it's about taking a punt; but a calculated punt. If the player has proved to be no good or not fit in, they're quickly moved on. In my opinion, we are one or two strikers and maybe a central midfielder away from having a very good squad. We are competing against some big fish nowdays thanks to the progress the club has made in recent years. The quality of player we now require to actually improve the squad has increased which limits the available pool even further. Keep the faith! Come on you Lions!!!!!

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  • February 6, 2013 at 09:31
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    The only thing I'm 'whingening' about it the fact our ONLY scout spends his time waffling to the press... how many other scouts in the country do this?! especially when the club that employs them is in need of players (as you say so yourself) I agree we're only a couple of players away from really being up there but JJ banging on about Chris Wood when we still havent replaced his goals seems somewhat strange and quite frankly outrageous gievn how our form has declined.... and its not like we've been playing the best the league has to offer in the last 3 games, Barnsley, Burnley and Hull.... no points and no goals scored?!? but yet JJ feels the need to take time out and talk about Leicesters star striker.... yeah nice one!!!

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    • February 6, 2013 at 10:40
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      Hull are third, Barnsley are on a bit of a run, as are Barnsley. As a fan, I'm glad that he felt that he needed to explain what we are up against and the process he has to go through. It was only one interview, not like he's Harry 'Rentaquote' Redknapp - it snows and he has something to say about it!

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      • February 6, 2013 at 11:02
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        Hahaa I do love a bit of 'Arry though! What you thinking on this Afobe situ??! He was played out of position mostly for Bolton so I think we can safely ignore his spell there!!

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        • February 6, 2013 at 13:49
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          From what I hear he's got pace and power, sounds like what we need IMO. Like I say, stat's don't always tell the whole story, look a Lisbie (admittedly in division 1), he did alright with us and his scoring record for Charlton wasn't inspiring. Glad it looks like we're getting someone in with promise.

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