Off-season update: changing things around

After a full season of sporadic writing on this blog, I’ve decided to change things around slightly during the off-season. Main because of time. But also the bigger problem I found during last season. The actual subject matter. 

Here’s the problem. I can’t watch a game, then convert my notes about what I’ve seen into a blog post here without giving away a lot of information. Which, quite rightly, the club I work for might want to keep to themselves. 

So while this is a blog about being a football scout. There’s not much information about, err, football scouting. 

My mentor, running through a few midfield tactical basics for me…

So I’m transforming this into something a little more general instead. Things like what it’s like being (or trying to be) a football scout. A few experiences from games. And the other stuff that comes along the way. Including the odd observation about players and teams thrown in for authenticity. 

Another reason for change is the reason I mentioned a little earlier. Time. 

I like writing this blog. It provides a way to mark significant moments during the season. And I find scouting quite solitary. So it’s a way to reach out to people. 

But when the season gets going time really is short. The most recent article published before this one was back in January. Which happened to coincide with getting work for a new club. Two clubs now I think of it. Finding even a free hour in between reports proved impossible. Even if I did have the energy for it. Which I didn’t. All of which is a bit of a shame. 

The good news on that front is that I am a bit quicker at this sort of work now. I send reports to the coaching team days in advance rather than minutes. I’m also paying more attention to those other aspects of life that need attention such as getting fresh air and saying hello to my family every once in a while. So within that I hope to make writing this at least semi-regular. 

So on that note of probably hopeless optimism, I’ll crack on. 


The summer is here, which means a break, although I’m writing this with pre-season well underway. I’d joked with a friend of mine that the ideal duration of the off-season for me was about a week. But then figured, as I collapsed onto the sofa to watch Scottish football playoffs, that maybe a break wasn’t such a bad idea. And maybe a holiday. 

Anyway, I’m taking a break from football. At least from watching it. More on that later. 

Also, for the first time in a couple of years, I have a club for the start of the season. I worked for Tonbridge Angels (National League South) for the second half of last season. And this year I’m starting the season with them too. So that’s continuity I didn’t have last season. This is only my third season in football and the first one I’ve been working on from the start. 

Complete with new badge for the 2023/23 season

I have taken a couple of courses to keep my eye in over the past couple of months. Last summer I created my own football curriculum as a kind of intensive self-study course (you can read about it here). That involved a long list of things I didn’t understand. 

I’ve done the same again this year. And somehow, despite learning more than ever last season, the new list is even longer. Learning more just seems to unlock more things you don’t know. 

So I worked through courses by APFC, Spielverlargerung, and Stats Bomb. Perhaps I’ll give some thoughts on each of those another time. 


I’m currently recovering from a self-inflicted calf strain. Make that two calf strains. After reading Born to Run (see below) I immediately set out on my usual run intending to run like a Tarahara Indian, albeit in my old pair of running shoes. It was wonderful. I skipped along on my forefeet, breezing through my usual route. For about ten minutes anyway. Then the wheels fell off. 

It felt like a really really bad calf strain…

I was enjoying myself so much I decided to ignore the pain I sensed creeping up both legs. After three and a half miles I had to stop and hobble home. Still elated I thought the pain would go. It didn’t. No more running, and no half marathon this month. 


If you’ve read deeply into this blog, and if the analytics are anything to go by, you haven’t gone much further than this post, then you’ll know I got into football scouting mainly because of Marcelo Bielsa

Reading about him turned me into a sort of arms-length Leeds fan. And while people still ask me what I think of the various false prophets that have taken over at Leeds, I have to keep reminding them “I’m not a Leeds fan. I’m a Marcelo Bielsa fan”.

All of this now makes me an arms-length Uruguay fan. Not sure how I’ll see games. But lucky Uruguay. I was always a bit skeptical of him returning to the Premier League. I thought it might ruin the Leeds legacy. But now he’s in position several thousand miles away I kind of wish I was now breaking the habit of a lifetime and rooting for Everton. 


I’ve been thinking that my report templates could do with an update ahead of the new season. You can see the template I used two seasons ago here. I didn’t change too much last year. But like a kit refresh, I could do with a few changes. The only snag is I’m not sure how. 


I’m back to going to pre-season games, mainly the super local ones. I have my own kind of pre-season, getting back into the observational swing of things. Right now I’m still in the cup-of-tea and a decent seat phase. Feet dangling over the seat in front. Catching myself completely oblivious and looking in the wrong direction. Soon I’ll have to get serious and at least take a pen and notebook. 


Born to Run” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>Born to Run, and Marcelo Bielsa: Attacking tactics and sessions, by Terzis Athanasios

I say I’m reading this. I’ve started the first few pages and looked at the pictures. So far it’s excellent. But I feel like I need total isolation – perhaps a short prison sentence – to give it the total attention and focus it requires. It’s one of those books that I want to absorb through my skin. So conditions for reading have to be perfect. And they seldom are. 

Reading a Bielsa tactics book requires solitude, time to focus, and space. Or an underground bunker with wall space and laptops.

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