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Scouting in football and ice hockey: parallels and differences

This happened with the return of Zoran Barisic and Peter Stöger: Rapid and Austria want to put their surveillance on new wider legs.

Without knowing in detail the previous scouting departments: the fact that there is room for improvement is not solely due to the performance of the two Viennese clubs in recent years. But problem areas are versatile.

Bernd Freimüller, ice hockey scout LAOLA1 Take a look at the problems in football scouting and the differences or parallels with Austrian ice hockey:

Proactive or on-call agents?

Do you want to discuss the timing of the transfer with a list of candidates for problem posts or do you expect suggestions from agents? The former would of course be desirable – you look for a left-back and your screening service will provide you with a list of willing domestic and foreign actors in a realistic price range.

Even with big clubs, such a proactive approach is not a common practice. Sven Mislintat, who has just moved from Arsenal to VfB Stuttgart as a sports director, explained the reasons for his change in an interview with "11 Freunde", including: The new management of Arsenal wanted to react only to the players 'advisors' proposals, Mislintat, against Preparing the market before the transfer period by combining live visualization and analysis of data and videos.


So if a Premier League club like Arsenal reacts only to the proposals, Bundesliga clubs that are much weaker financially in this country will of course not be able to work proactively.

But then this leads to hectic last minute observations or only works with videos. At least the local market should always be under control.

In the EBEL, it unfolds as follows: Almost all transfers are created at the request of agents offering their customers. The searches are then carried out only in due time, the observations made during the year constituting an absolute exception.

The big football world

Probably the biggest difference between sports: while ice hockey is really only in Europe and North America, football is of course a world sport.

Covering all countries is only possible with the best international clubs. Rapid also less engaged Koya Kitagawa because of an in-depth knowledge of the Japanese J1 League, but only after the name was transferred into the field of view of sports director Zoran Barisic (see the story of the commitment of Koya Kitagawa).

Some major European clubs are known to foreign leagues with lists of interesting players and may have already tested some options for change. But even with good financial resources, you have to draw the line somewhere: is it important for a German Bundesliga club about the weak Slovak or Hungarian league, or is it enough here to observe the respective junior national teams when international tournaments?

Conversely, these leagues could be more interesting for Austrian clubs and, because of their proximity, easier to explore or cover with a "pick-bird" (= part-time scout).

Or do you focus on a few countries, as Mainz 05 did for the last time with France? A good football country whose players have the opportunity to know the details in detail could be more productive than "watering can know" on several leagues or even on several continents.

In the EBEL, this looks like this: Besides the Austrian market, the most important leagues are the AHL and OCHL Overseas and German DEL, the Finnish Liiga and the Allsvenskan (second Swedish league) in Europe. Players from Switzerland or the KHL can usually only be acquired when their star is already sinking. Therefore, despite their sports quality, they are not necessarily priorities.

Scout live or online?

Of course, because of the global market and limited resources, online scouting in football is essential, as some scouting tools, which prepare entire players or sequences of individual players, already provide it. But Rapid admitted that at the time of Bickel, we had not spotted the television too much.

Something that would always make my stomach ache. For me, scouts are first in the stadiums and then in front of the computer screen or television.

A total of 150 live games, formerly known as Michael Reschke (who was then working as a team planner for Bayern), seems unimportant to me, especially since he played as Live observer convinced. In addition, football is now a sport practiced all year long: in summer, one season is almost uninterrupted with the other (not to mention the intermediate tournaments), in winter, some leagues are played (almost) anyway .

On the other hand, travel to South America and Japan, as well as the subsequent regeneration, take a while, which may be missed at the stadium. For me, the number of live observations has been established over the years between 200 and 230, with two months without a hockey game, June and July. Live games supported by online impressions would be the right order for me – not the other way around.

In the EBEL, this looks like this: While online hockey scouting is becoming more fashionable, it is still in its infancy, especially when it comes to individual player sequences (unlike video highlights from Youtube). The information about the players through the coaches, followed by online scouting, match the order in the EBEL, followed by live observations. The quality of videos on ice hockey, with their usually small picture sections, is inferior to that of football, where you can often overlook the whole field.

Scouting in your own country

As difficult as the international market can reconcile – your own country should always be prepared, even if it is as small as Austria. Bundesliga, HPYBET 2nd League and Regionalligen's best players – the senior market is easy to cover, so the problems could rather prepare the countless number of legionaries and their respective performance levels before a possible return.

In offspring, the question arises as to what ages should be covered. The youth leagues of the ÖFB (U15, U16, U18) course cover the players of the academy seamlessly. As the games of seniors and juniors always take place on weekends, it is necessary at least that these two zones be separated. But as a chief scout, you must be informed of your own observations or information from employees about the best talents each year.

The junior internationals in the league matches are of course unavoidable and it is almost inexpensive: each vintage always plays at home.

What seems to be understandable for foreign players due to limited financial resources (only to be tracked on agent call) is almost unforgivable for players playing in Austria.

In the EBEL, this looks like this: It always surprises me when clubs ask me questions about EBEL players who have been playing for years in this league. But please, everything that is included in the program. In offspring, there is often a complete mystery, although this market is easy to forget considering a tiny amount (300 to 350 players a year) and of a very manageable quality (vintages with a single-digit number of outstanding players from the national team are the rule, not the exception) is.

From under 15 years, there are national teams – at the latest there players can be observed – if this does not happen already in the league business between Vienna and Innsbruck. In the under-14 zone, it's a little more difficult and this year can also be important: many players are facing a change of school and the academies of Vienna, Klagenfurt and Salzburg are ready to save. Vorarlberg players, mainly active in Switzerland, are the most difficult to watch.

With age, the overview becomes easier: players like Thomas Goiginger in football – who appear for the first time on the screen in the senior section then make a good career – have been in ice hockey in recent years, with the exception of KAC goalkeeper David Madlener. no.

Great differences, but also parallels between the two sports, are that screening in Austria is lagging behind international standards. Football and ice hockey definitely have something in common. Rapid and Austria should have at least admit their shortcomings – Austria wants to develop even under the board of Neo-Sport Peter Stöger, recruited for professionals two full-time scouts – self-knowledge is indeed the first path to recovery.

On the other hand, in ice hockey, I still hear in the ears the declaration of a club president from years ago: "In Sweden, there are no recruiters!" – what can you say …

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