It’s a few months old now, but still an interesting read about Gilles Grimandi and his role at the club.
Thanks to Vince at @ASCFR for the translation.
How long have you been scout?
“Nine years. I remember the first mission Arsène Wenger assigned me. He asked me to pick up French internationals at Faroe Islands (Henry, Pires &Vieira – 08/09/04).”
Have you ever thought about doing something else, like coach?
“I cant do it … assistant maybe! My vision would need to change, because I’m focused on the individual aspect, and a coach needs to have a more collective vision. I’d like to feel the daily life of a team. I sometimes do with Arsenal. We miss the team life in this job, we are loners. We live with frustration.”
“We’re always looking for players, we fight for players to come, you commit yourself and, when this player signs he doesn’t even know who you are.”
Where do you live?
“London, but I’m rarely there. It’s a consuming passion.”
How many games do you attend?
“A little bit more than 250 a year. It depends of the number of tournaments you’re following. Our job has changed a lot. The day after the game I can use my iPad and see tons of stats.”
Is it possible to do your job without going to stadium?
“No. The most important is what happens on the pitch. You’ve got many signals that you can’t see on TV, the game without the ball, how he tracks back. English people call it ‘body language’. It’s at the stadium that the decision is made.”
Wenger comes with you?
“Not much, but he watches all the games. He’s got an unbelievable memory. In France, he knows everyone. So when I talk to him about a player, he’s got already an idea of him. But scouting is not only about signing players. You have to say no, because sometimes technical decisions can be influenced by agents, or relatives.
With Arsenal, it’s more simple because Arsène decides and he hasn’t changed his philosophy in the last 17 years. I know how to work for Arsène Wenger, I’m not sure I’d know how to work with other managers. I’m lucky, even though it’s sometimes difficult.”
“When you’re a player, you can’t imagine what’s going on around the stadium, the buzz, you don’t know where to park, get your invitation, and after the game there’s the traffic congestion.”
That’s why the scouts leave the games early?
“Yes, at first it made me crazy. You need a year to adapt.”
How many games do you need to make your decision about a player?
“It depends. Bacary Sagna, I watched him very, very often.”
“I’ve watched him when he was at Tours, in L2 (2008-2009). Maybe we made a mistake, because we could have signed him when he was in L2. But I couldn’t imagine his progression. On Tuesday you watch a Champion’s League game, and on Friday you watch a L2 game … You’ve got to think ‘can he go from on level to the other?'”
Do you make research on the personality of the player?
“Yes, but the pitch don’t lie. When you see a guy 20 times … and when you see a kid warming up, you understand many things … that’s where your experience of former player helps.”
What’s your best signing?
“I hate hearing a scout assuming the responsibility of a success or the signing of a player. I hear a lot, ‘I made him sign’. But you never hear ‘I’m the one who refused to sign him’ … we all make mistakes. The success of a player is the result of a sum of things”.
What player did you miss?
“I’ve never thought Ribery would have made this career. But there’s many guys … Arsène never thought Thuram would make the career he’s made.”
Originally from L’Equipe – October 2013