Learn more about Stuart Webber’s role at HTAFC
- Insight into the Head of Football Operations role
- Day-to-day and short term priorities explained
- Quotes from Stuart Webber on relationship with Chris Powell
With Huddersfield Town recently appointing Stuart Webber as its new Head of Football Operations, htafc.com has put the spotlight on the role at the Club and exactly what it entails.
Football Operations encompasses all the support staff and activities that support the First Team, Development Squad and Academy football set-ups:
- Scouting; player intelligence, identification and assessment of players and opposition
- Recruitment; market intelligence, getting players and technical staff (coaches and support staff) in and management of contracts (succession planning)
- Sports Science; covering strength and conditioning, diet and nutrition
- Medical; physiotherapy, doctors, injury rehab
- Analysis; player, opposition and own team – including video analysis and statistical
These separate, but connected functions all need to work together to give the Manager, technical staff and players the best opportunity to perform to their maximum and win. This is a ‘One Club’ approach, with everyone working towards the same objectives.
Football Operations need management day-to-day including areas like organisation, planning and financial control, in a co-ordinated way. 20 years ago, this responsibility would have fallen to the First Team Manager or were not undertaken at all, but the Head of Football Operations role has become crucial in football to allow the Manager and the technical staff to operate to their full capability by focusing on what matters most and where they have the biggest impact.
Like any organisation, Huddersfield Town needs to operate in a planned way. Lack of proper planning leads to poor decisions, which undermines prospects of success and is costly. That is particularly true when it comes to Football Operations, where decisions have long term effects and can have large financial implications.
Huddersfield Town’s approach to Football Operations remains unchanged following Stuart Webber’s arrival and departure of Ross Wilson to Premier League Southampton.
The Club has a well-established, overall business strategy and plan of what it wants to do and how it will operate across the whole club.
Within that plan, there is an already-established Football Operations plan. Day-to-day football activities, as well as development moving forward, needs to fit with that plan.
Huddersfield Town aspires to be seen as a leader in its approach to Football Operations and the way it operates, covering:
• First Team football and the Academy, including how they work together
• Scouting, Recruitment and management of existing players and staff
• Embracing new ideas and cutting-edge thinking, including analysis, sports science and medical
• The efficiency and effectiveness of what the Club does and how it does it
Football is the top priority at Huddersfield Town, so it is allocated as much of the Club’s resources as possible. As such, it is crucial that Football Operations work at maximum efficiency and effectiveness if the Club is to be successful. This requires first class management by the Head of Football Operations.
As Head of Football Operations, Stuart Webber plays his part to ensure:
- The Football Operations plan is developed and implemented in line with the rest of the Club
- There is joined-up thinking, with proper coordinated planning, decision-making action across all the Football Operations departments in First Team and Academy football
Day-to-day, the key focus of Stuart Webber in the short term is scouting and recruitment with the current transfer window open. Scouting and recruitment are two separate, but connected, disciplines.
Scouting is the process of correctly identifying the players the Club should sign, but also correctly identifying the ones not to sign.
Recruitment is the process to get the players to join the Club once you have selected them through the scouting process. Market and player intelligence, as well as relationships with agents and clubs, are important to get deals done.
As Town’s Head of Football Operations, Stuart will manage the team of around a dozen part-time scouts across the country and the recruitment analyst, Stuart Benthom, to ensure that at all times the Club has followed strong decision-making processes in making the correct judgements on players.
Key to that process is not only watching, assessing and forming judgements on players, but also knowing what is happening with players in the market; this impacts on the recruitment process to get players in. This is a difficult, time-consuming process involving lots of time on the phone, lots of information gathering and checking; this is a key reason for the growth in the role with so much at stake. It is nigh-on impossible for any Manager to do that and manage the team.
Relationship with the Manager
This is up there with the most vital aspects of the Head of Football Operations role, as Stuart explained to htafc.com:
“With the information gathered through the scouting process, I will sit and speak with Chris (Powell) every day, deciding together who we watch during the season by identifying the types of players and positions he wants. Chris will also have his own specific recommendations to throw into the mix.
“We’ll also collect, collate and review the scouting reports and Chris and I will discuss them with the Chairman and Chief Executive. This filtering process is really important.
“I will, of course, actively watch lots of games and players; typically three to four games a week live, plus others recorded.
“Scouting is all about providing the best options, full information and intelligence so that the Manager can assess, prioritise and chose who he wants to get in within the budget the Club has. Obviously the Manager is ultimately judged by results on the pitch, so he always has to have final say on who we target to bring in or move out.
“As we are already in a transfer window, the scouting process takes a back seat to recruitment in the short term as we look to get the right players in during over the next weeks.
“All this will be carried out in close coordination with Chris, Dean (Hoyle) and Nigel (Clibbens). We will operate very closely as a four man team, as they did with Ross. This way of working was a big attraction is it means you can make a difference directly; it builds trust, which is critical.
“Everyone is in it together and everything is in place for us to push on. I can already see how committed and focused everyone is on the job in hand. Everyone knows exactly what we need to do.”