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State-of-the-art scouting

Dremmler: A notebook is no longer enough

In the rocky landscape to the north-east of Bavaria, close to the Czech border some 200 kilometres from Munich, the diverse streams of global football converge into one comprehensive resource. The International Soccer Bank (ISB) is based here in Neustadt an der Waldnaab, a borough town of 6,000 souls. ISB maintains a vast database, currently monitoring 95,000 players, 4,929 clubs, 539 national teams, 288 competitions and 76 leagues.

The Bayern scouting and match observation section, headed by former pro Wolfgang Dremmler, makes extensive use of this superb resource. ISB’s client list includes Premier League outfit Arsenal and the Brazilian FA. spoke to FCB chief scout Dremmler (pictured, left) and ISB boss Jürgen Kost (right) about where database analysis fits in modern scouting. Read part one of our exclusive interview below, with part 2 to follow shortly.

Interview: Wolfgang Dremmler and Jürgen Kost How important are databases to the scouting operation nowadays?
Dremmler: “Data is the basis of scouting. It enables us to form an initial impression. We can see the player’s name, where he comes from, his age, his height and weight, whether he’s right or left-footed, whether he’s playing regularly, his goalscoring record and so on. ISB provides us with this data.” Can a club such as Bayern realistically run its extensive scouting operation without a database such as that maintained by ISB?
Kost: “It would be difficult. In my opinion, it’s important to start out with as much information as possible, and significantly more than the AC Milan scouts, as an example, as they’ll be looking at the same player. The more information you possess, the stronger your bargaining position.” Is the use of databases widespread in the Bundesliga?
Kost: “I think it is. Simply travelling around with a notebook isn’t enough any more. A scout has to absorb so much information. He’ll almost certainly be watching more than one match per weekend – and he’s observing a minimum of 22 players in every game. The quicker he can process the information he collects, the faster he’s mentally ready for the next task. And that takes us to the need for managing the information with technological tools.”
Dremmler: “In the old days, every scout had his notebook, bulging with observations. But those days are gone. Thanks to ISB, every scout can access the notes made by all the others. The board of directors, the director of sport and the coaching staff can keep up to speed too. As an example, say one of our scouts is in Spain and has written up his report. He’ll simply go back to his hotel, boot up his laptop, and enter his report into the system, so we here in Munich can read and note his observations. The internet makes it all possible. ISB is simple, practical, and provides fast results.”