Dan King has interviewed Newcastle Chief Scout Graham Carr, on the Newcastle official site this afternoon.
Graham Carr – Newcastle Chief Scout
And of course the great news today is that Newcastle have tied up the lifelong Newcastle fan to an eight year deal, and we have to think that some top clubs were trying to get graham, given his fantastic record with Newcastle over a short 30 months.
And it seems that Mike Ashley took Graham by surprise when he suddenly offered him the new deal after thy had been discussing various players recently.
Here are the questions from Dan King, and Graham’s answers:
Q1: How do you feel after signing your new contract, Graham? And how did it come about?
To be honest, it was quite a shock really. I got a phone call from Derek Llambias who asked if I was available to come and meet Mike Ashley. We had a chat for three or four hours about everything on our side, the scouting side, and then I met Mike again the next day for a couple of hours.
We spent a couple of days talking about our targets, which had been discussed previously with Alan Pardew. Alan had identified the players we’re after and for Mike, who’s a busy man, it was a great opportunity for us to get together and talk about them. And when I got offered the contract, I signed there and then.
We were just discussing players and suddenly, out of nothing, he told me what he was going to offer me. I like working for him so it didn’t matter if it was one year or 20 years. I just like working for Newcastle – but it came as a real surprise.
Q2: Eight years is a long time, though. Why such a long-term deal?
I think he wants stable staff at the club. He wants them to hopefully be here for the long haul. And I think that’s really important. A stable manager – because Alan has a long-term contract here too – his staff, and my staff too, all staying together and taking the club forward.
Last season we finished fifth and that might not be possible every year, but with continuity and stability hopefully we can keep on that circle.
Q3: You were born in Northumberland and you’re a Newcastle fan. Did that influence your decision to commit yourself to the club for so long?
Of course. It’s like a dream job for me anyway. I’m from Newcastle, I like working for Newcastle. To be fair, I’m lucky to be working in this job and for good people.
I work very closely with Derek Llambias most of the time, and Football Secretary Lee Charnley, and I have a very good relationship with Alan who works very hard on it from his side of things. We’ve got that mutual trust which is a big thing, isn’t it?
Q4: How does your role fit into what the manager is trying to do at Newcastle?
I obviously do the scouting and then what happens is we put a list together of players in positions that we think we’ll be looking for. Alan will go out to watch players too when he gets the opportunity, but he likes to rely on me a little bit because his job is very time-consuming. Some weeks they play Saturday or Sunday, some weeks they play Monday, so it’s not always possible for him to get out and watch players.
But when he does get the opportunity, he does go out; I just try to point a few out for him to go and have a look at. We’ve got a team of scouts, it’s not just me. We don’t have a lot of scouts but we have people who do match reports as well as individual scouting.
We do a lot of European games because we think it’s the best market. You can always try and get a bargain there; if you go to somebody in England, or even the lower leagues, they go ‘oh Newcastle, Premier League, we’ll have a few bob out of these.’ But we know the markets which we’re looking for.
Q5: How often, on average, do you spend looking for players?
I’m usually away three out of the four weekends every month – but I always have a weekend at home. I live in Northamptonshire and the thing about that, which the club don’t mind at all, is I’ve got access to the Eurostar and I’ve got five airports less than an hour from my house.
I can get to Birmingham, I can get to East Midlands, I’ve got St. Pancras within an hour of my house, I can get to Luton in 40 minutes, I can get to Stansted, and Heathrow is within 75 miles. It’s all within reach – I can get anywhere I want. I spend a fair bit of time in Germany because I think Germany’s style of football is similar to ours, and of course that’s where we signed Papiss Cisse from.
But I watched Papiss Cisse long before Freiburg – I was watching him even before he had a European passport! I watched Yohan Cabaye for a long time too. I’ve been doing the job for 14 years for different clubs; Tottenham for five years, Manchester City for seven, so it’s not as if it’s new to me, the job. And the players aren’t new to me either.
Q6: Cisse and Cabaye are just a couple of the players you’ve helped to identify since you came to Newcastle in February 2010. You must be pleased with your record?
I like to think so, but that’s my job really! You’ve got to give the owner a bit of credit here. He’s put money into it, Mike Ashley, and he’s a big help. And Alan Pardew molding the team helps as well.
Q7: The latest player to arrive at Newcastle on your recommendation is Romain Amalfitano. What impressed you about him?
He’s been playing for Reims who were promoted last year. He was playing regularly but he was out of contract. He’s only played in the French second division but he’s a good player and he boosts the squad. It may take a while to break in but if he works hard, I’ve got every confidence that he’ll be a brilliant player.
He’s got pace. He can play wide right, he’s played centrally before, he can pass… he’s just one of these who has got a bit of a chance. He’ll probably take a while to come into the starting line-up but you’re not going to get a ready-made star for nothing, are you?
Q8: And his signing suggests that you and your team are already working hard ahead of next season.
We always are. Every year, we know what we’re looking for the year after for Newcastle. We look for new players and we also look again at ones we’ve scouted before, to see if they’ve improved or matured. We’re always looking forward. It’s a never-ending job. You’re still looking all the time.
You don’t say, ‘right, the summer has come by, let’s start looking for players.’ During the season, you need to be ready for the windows. You could get a fantastic offer for somebody, or someone could get an injury and you need to replace them. It never stops – but I love it.
Graham has given a lot of insight into the workings of Newcastle with those answers, and we are so pleased he’ll be with Newcastle for the next eight years – the best signing of the summer.