MSF meets Kieran Scott – Q&A – 12/12/2022
Q: How have you settled into the area?
Kieran Scott (KS):
I really like the area, not as busy as other places I have previously lived, but I do mean it when I say I’m genuinely enjoying it.
Q: What has been your background in terms of getting to where you are today?
My first job on the scouting and recruitment side was Bournemouth when I was 25.
I played at Ipswich and got injured at 16 so that put an end to my playing career really.
I did a bit of academy work with Bournemouth and some first team work and helped them develop the team that won League Two and One.
I also went to Southampton and worked there for a period. Which was brilliant at the time and saw the likes of Luke Shaw etc come through.
After Southampton, I went to help with emerging talent and be the head of academy recruitment at Burnley.
From there I went to Wolves to take up the same role.
I went back to Burnley as first team scout, and whilst there I was asked to step up and work with the CEO doing loans and business deals.
From Burnley I then went to Norwich for five years, and from Norwich to Middlesbrough.
Q: When you joined Boro, did you have a timescale for when you wanted to achieve certain things by, and if so, how far along do you think we are in terms of that?
Whenever you go to a new club and you have your ideas, you map it all out whether that was me going to Norwich, Wolves or here.
I came in when Neil Warnock was in charge, and I don’t have any issues with Neil at all, he did a really good job keeping the club up. He is a charismatic guy, and I got along with him.
In the background I was forming opinions and meeting people, working out who would do different roles, but in implementing anything it was difficult early on.
Then Chris Wilder came along. We met Chris and went through the recruitment process with him. Chris worked with the structure and plan for a period of time and to be fair to him he took over a group that was flat and got us playing well and we had some great days, and we had the great the win at Old Trafford, and we really enjoyed the first period.
We had some good periods with Chris, but then there was an incident we all know about which was the Burnley connection.
I have already said this, but now it really feels like I’m starting my job, the one I brought in to do and a plan can be implemented. Especially as there is a group of people that want to work in the same way and have listened to Steve and what Steve wants.
Things do now feel completely different and that’s why I have been a bit more vocal with Michael coming in. I don’t want to be out in the media every two weeks, but equally communication is important.
Q: What were the top priorities on your list that you wanted to implement when you came in?
The first one was to recruit a manager that wanted to work in the way the club wanted, without that you can’t do any of it.
The other priority was changing the scouting and investing in that area. It would have made no sense to do that while with previous managers were here, as they didn’t want to work in this way.
Now Michael is in, I’m starting to build the recruitment side of things and in a short period of time we are already seeing the rewards of that in terms of the names of the players that are popping up and the level of detail the team go into.
The recruitment department has been a massive area that needed fixing. I know that there has been a lot of questions about it by supporters. And rightly so. It needs more work, but we are on with it.
The other area is moving the academy along, with fresh ideas etc. The team have been doing a great job, we just need to keep it progressing.
There has been too many good players that have faded away. I think that has been down to a lack of competition in the group.
Having players come in from outside of Teesside into the academy helps push those players from Teesside further along.
Q: How does the manager recruitment process work and what do the club look for in a manager?
It’s about the individual understanding the role of a head coach.
We are just moving with the times; most clubs now have a head coach rather than a manager.
Age is not something we really look at, its more of them understanding the role and what they are here to do which is to fundamentally coach players, make them better and put a style of play on the pitch that entertains. The plan also has to ensure we help develop young players which is open to foreign recruitment which is what most modern-day coaches want to do.
They don’t really want to take an older player on big wages. All the head coach ends up doing with those types of players is managing their days off and their lifestyle. The younger modern-day coach wants to work with younger players that they can improve as it helps their careers too.
It was Gareth Southgate that said to Steve you should meet Michael Carrick, Gareth had found him very impressive in England camps.
Steve called me and asked what I thought of Michael, and if I thought we should meet him. I said yes, and that we can’t turn down an opportunity to meet someone like that.
You can tell that he has a real football brain and has great attention to detail and the people he has been around has rubbed off on him in a good way.
We did meet three other candidates, but you could see very quickly Michael had something and he was very strong.
What I will credit both Michael and Jonathan with, is that they had four days together and in those four days when we went to Preston (even though we lost) you could already see what they were trying to do.
I must say Woody has also been brilliant, I know Michael takes a lot of the credit and rightly so, but Jonathan behind him as been good.
Q: How did Woody’s appointment come about as that was a surprise to everyone?
Michael had an idea of a couple of people he liked, (they will remain nameless), but one now owes Michael a nice bottle of wine for Christmas because the club he was at doubled his salary to keep him at his current club.
Michael also met Jonathan. I had met him a couple of times and you can just tell he just loves the club.
Woody managed here before my time and it didn’t work for whatever reason, but you can tell when someone wants to be here.
I had also seen Woody at Bournemouth and thought he did well and handled good players.
The main point was that we needed some more Teesside blood in Middlesbrough.
He has been brilliant so far to be fair.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about the new coach Aaron Danks that came in?
Aaron has joined us from Villa.
He will have a slightly different role to Jonathan. They are both on par with each other.
Aaron is more a specific individual coach so will put a plan in place for individual players like Isaiah or Ryan Giles for example or even some of the older lads.
I knew of him when he worked at England, and he is really well regarded.
I will be honest, I said to Michael, that I didn’t think we’d be able to get him in, but he came because he wanted to and I think the Carrick factor also enticed him.
You will see over a period of time Aaron addressing and ironing out some of the smaller thing’s players need to improve on.
Q: How does the player recruitment process work, is it you and your team that identifies players and present them to the manager? Or is Michael that identifies areas and comes to you to find a player?
I say to the scouting department to go and find players for every position, as we just don’t know what is going to happen. We could have two players that get injured in training or in a game and we need someone to come in.
Their job is to constantly find players, they are stored up on lists and then myself, Michael and Woody have plenty of conversations about how games are going, what our thoughts are on areas we could and need to improve on and we will go from there.
Once I know we what positions we want, I will sit with Chris Jones (Head Of Scouting) and look at options for the types of players we want and then present a top three per position to Michael. You want a bite on at least two of the players from Michael, and if they don’t like any of them, then we have done something wrong. So far so good and we have had bites on
most players we have put forward.
Then we explore it from there, and we go away and look at things a bit more closely as do Michael and Woody and they will then come back and say if they feel the player will really fit the position or not. If it’s a yes, it’s my job to do the best I can to make sure the player comes.
That is a very shortened down version of it, as you can probably appreciate a lot goes on within that, but that is fundamentally the process.
Also, just to be clear on recruitment again, no player walks into this club without everyone agreeing on them.
Q: Who makes the decision on taking loan players on a permanent, for example Ryan Giles?
The manager obviously has got to really like the player for us to look at investing in someone.
But it also comes down to what that deal could look like.
It’s difficult, the head coach may say he wants him, but then it comes down to trying to negotiate a realistic deal for this club, and it may be that the fee is out of reach.
Q: Have we got any plans to get another attacking midfielder?
There are plans in place for improving and strengthening the squad.
As mentioned, we are identifying good players that we want as a recruitment/scouting department and presenting it to the manager in that this player will improve us.
We have already presented a few players to Woody and Michael and they have liked quite a few.
There are plans, but obviously we have to make the everything work that goes with it like the finances of any deal.
But yes we are certainly doing our best to try and strengthen a few areas as best we can.
We should look better on 31 January than we do on 1 January.
Q: Are we looking ahead for future replacements for Jonny Howson?
Jonny just seems to keep going, he has been brilliant to be fair.
He brings so much to the group, you can’t underestimate what he does, as does Tommy Smith and Darragh. They are worth their weight in gold.
Yes, we will eventually need to replace him and we have identified that, but he does keep rolling back the years.
Q: What are the plans with Payero?
Martin was brought in before my time here.
He has gone out on loan, and they do have an option to buy him which they may take up.
Their season works differently to ours, so their option to buy comes in May or June.
Q: Is Josh Coburn going to come back?
The plan is not to bring Josh back.
It doesn’t help the player to come back and not play, especially when he is playing now.
He has to keep playing and doing well.
There is still a lot of development needed, there is no point in bringing him back to sit on the bench then play for 10/15 mins each week like he did that last year. He needs to play 30/40 games, stay fit. It’s a good environment for him to be in as Joey is playing him every week.
Q: Are we signing Chuba on a long-term contract?
He does have another year on his contract, that not many know.
He has been handled differently and looks like a different player.
Q: We have some really promising young goalkeepers out on loan don’t we?
Yes, the two young boys are doing well.
Sol has been putting in some brilliant performances at Swindon.
They are both 22 years old and showing lots of promise and been pushing each other on.
They return to us at the end of the season and we will decide next steps with them then.
Q: How Is Matt Clarke getting on?
He has had back injury that he has been trying to play through and has ended up having some treatment for it. So, he is still out injured at the moment.
Q: How is Darnell Fisher getting on?
He has had a serious injury and now he is picking up other niggles along the way in recovery which can happen when a player has suffered such a serious injury.
Q: What is Grant’s role now?
Grant is getting his coaching in with the Academy and working in there and supporting the first team. He is getting the best of both worlds.
The club think really highly of him, he knows what it takes to play for the club, and we want people like that around
He came up and helped with Leo and Tinks and has stayed put as they have liked what they have seen from him. He tells you straight if he is not happy with something.
We need these types of people around the club.
Q: Do you think the squad has benefited from the World Cup break, especially as we had momentum going into it?
It gave us an opportunity to get over a couple of niggles for players.
When you are not playing games, it does have an impact, it can take some time to get back into it, we probably seen some of that during the first half of Saturday.
The 2nd half we deserved to win.
Time will tell.