When West Ham United were criticised by The Sunday Supplement on Sky Sports, they were able to get an apology from the show.
The second point of this apology, which lasted just under a minute and a half, was that “they have spent over £1.5m on scouts in the past year”.
This was put in among a series of references to the tenures of David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady at both West Ham and Birmingham City, seemingly designed to put across what a good job they have done.
However, this doesn’t seem too convincing, with The Athletic’s report putting a large dent in the credibility of the figure given for the Hammers’ scouting expenditure – this does not discredit the accuracy of the figure, but makes a mockery of what they got for it.
Firstly, this saw them recruit six full-time scouts, with two of those being the respective sons of Manuel Pellegrini and Mario Husillos.
They were joined by a long-standing colleague in Claudio Carsi, performance analyst Jordan Miles and two scouts based overseas, with one covering Portugal and Spain, while the other focused on the Balkans and European competitions – Miles is the only one of this group that is still at the club.
To put things into context, Everton claim to have over 300, West Ham have fewer than Championship sides Leeds United and Brentford, while they don’t use part-time scouts, something that is not usually the case.
Mario Husillos Jr’s comments embody the philosophy that has been deployed with scouting, as he said: “Even if six scouts was still really small — and each of us was covering a lot of leagues and working long hours — I don’t think having 50 scouts implies you’re better than someone who has 20 if those 20 are well organised, you can trust their opinions and work following the same guidelines. When you reach a minimum it all depends on organisation and the way decisions are made.
“I know some clubs like to know every player but it’s not efficient. For example, I don’t think West Ham need to know every player from Argentina if they can only sign the outstanding ones due to work permit regulations, and you can get an idea of the few ones you could sign without watching all the matches in the league.”
He also suggested that West Ham had “all the usual” scouting equipment – all of this just goes to show that pretty much no effort has been made to go above and beyond in order to ensure the Hammers are getting the best talent possible.
What really makes the point of slack scouting hit home is that the departees were not replaced, meaning that David Moyes and his assistants got involved in the scouting process in January, which eventually saw Darren Randolph, Tomas Soucek and Jarrod Bowen recruited.
All of the above seems pretty shocking and incredibly damning for West Ham’s scouting in the last year.
With that in mind, while the board may have got their apology from the Sunday Supplement and managed to get a figure out in the open, this does absolutely nothing to improve their credibility.