Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Global Market Manoeuvres

West Ham United have confirmed Gianluca Nani as their new technical director. The 45-year-old Italian arrives at the Boleyn Ground from Brescia Calcio, where he has been the club's sporting director since 1999. Nani's previous responsibilities included being in charge of all aspects of technical development - such as the youth academy, transfers and improving training facilities. He will start his new role full time in June but has already begun working with Alan Curbishley on identifying potential transfer targets for the summer. In an official statement, the Italian's role at the club is defined as including:

* Enhancing the international scouting network
* Working with Alan Curbishley and the Board on all transfers
* Developing the youth academy with Tony Carr
* Improving all aspects of the training ground facilities

Nani possesses a good depth of knowledge of players in South America, and is reputed to have discovered Kaká, two years before AC Milan did, but when he tried to buy the Brazil forward, São Paulo increased the price at the last moment. Similarly, Brescia could not afford Adriano when he spotted the forward playing in a youth tournament in South America. After studying for a law degree, he worked as a sporting events organiser in Spain but took on his present role soon after marrying Silvia Corioni, the daughter of Luigi Corioni, the president of Brescia. He has also gained a reputation as a strong negotiator. Notably, Nani's arrival at Brescia coincided with that of Roberto Baggio, who helped the team to seventh place in Serie A in 2001, but they were relegated after the retirement of the former Italy forward in 2004. He also helped develop the talents of Andrea Pirlo and Luca Toni, the Italian World Cup winners, as well as Daniele Bonera, Stephen Appiah and Matuzalem.

West Ham United's shift to a continental structure is a bold break for a club that became known as “The Academy”. The likeable Nani, who speaks English, French and Spanish, stressed that as well as trying to attract foreign players to West Ham, he is determined to remain true to the club's academy roots. "I am proud and honoured to be here at West Ham. I know it is a club full of history and they play the right way," he said. "I met [West Ham directors] Alan and
Scott Duxbury some months ago. We started to talk about the ambitions of the club. We have the same point of view. This is a club with incredible potential. We have to work to bring the club to its potential. I know players like Bobby Moore and Trevor Brooking, I know the history of West Ham. I know the fans are passionate. We talked about the ambitions of the club and we have the same point of view. I have to help the club develop a system to discover the best young players. We have to build the system and the staff. I know West Ham is the best academy in England and maybe one of the best in the world. If we try to find some players from abroad, it doesn't mean we break the best academy in England. We must improve the English players as well. The fans like recognising the players."

Alan Curbishley has been central to the lengthy search for the ideal candidate for the position. It is a search which has seen the likes of new Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, former Liverpool assistant Pako Ayesteran and Fabio Capello's right-hand man Franco Baldini linked with the position. "I've been a major part in the recruitment and in setting the job description," Curbishley said. "Perhaps at other clubs there's been a wider-reaching brief for the technical director. We've made sure that we're concentrating on one area; an area I think we need help on. I don't envisage any problems on that because I will have the final say on recruitment. Obviously there's going to be differences of opinion when we're talking about two people involved in something, but I'm sure we're big enough and strong enough to work it all out. There's been a bit of scepticism about the role. We took our time, defined what we wanted. It will help me enormously and push the club forward. You may see this sort of appointment may become the norm in the Premier League. The manager has to be on board with what is done and I have been completely involved in the process. I feel Gianluca is the person I need to help me in recruitment for the club. He is vastly experienced. You need the infrastructure because this is a global game."

Nani's remit will be broadly between that of Nicky Hammond, who negotiates deals at Reading, and Damien Comolli, who has been more hands-on at Tottenham Hotspur. But West Ham are keen to avoid the internal conflict that led to Martin Jol's dismissal at White Hart Lane in October. Curbishley insisted that he will have the final say on transfers, after asking Nani to provide the options. Curbishley's readiness to embrace the move to the continental system was largely because he was left with little choice. He said that the club's present scouting network was inadequate. “I need to have my eyes opened up to players,” Curbishley said. “There is a void at the club and we are in a position to compete at the moment. I don't want to be in a position where we don't know about players. I will pick his brains, his network and advice. I don't think there is going to be any interference [after that]. I don't envisage any problems because I will have the final say. I don't think he has got a managerial bone in him.”

Aware that his appointment might invite conjecture,
Gianluca Nani turned to Alan Curbishley and joked that he had only been an amateur coach. The West Ham United manager sarcastically responded that he had been accused of being that himself over the past week.

"Gianluca is the person I need to help me in the recruitment at the club, venturing down into the academy level," said Curbishley, who travelled to Italy last week to discuss possible summer transfer targets with Nani. "It is a big brief but I am sure he is up for it. He is vastly experienced. We took a good look at Brescia and what they have achieved. We are lacking at the club in terms of infrastructure and network, which you need now because it is a global game. Since I have been here the club has always been looking to push on and push forward. There was a void I felt needed to be filled. We don't want to hear about a player going to another club and not have known anything about it. We expect the infrastructure of the club when it comes to recruitment will be beefed up, giving us a chance to get the best home grown players and foreign players. That is an area I feel we have been lacking."

The Italian is a graduate of the world-renowned Italian FA (FIGC) technical centre in Coverciano where he holds regular seminars related to the duties and responsibilities of his position. He has already watched West Ham several times on video and identified the areas that can be improved upon, most notably in attack. Part of the £3.5 million budget he has at Brescia was based on wheeling and dealing, but he can expect eight times as much at Upton Park- not that he will necessarily advocate spending it. “I am here to build something, not to break things,” Nani said. “I am not here to get a medallion. We have to bring the club to its potential. To get the best players. Maybe it could be another Paolo di Canio. We will make mistakes. We are in a global market. But that doesn't mean we will break what is the best academy in England, maybe in the world.”

Certainly the evidence would suggest that the club need to look further afield when making signings for the first-team. Curbishley has signed 12 players since taking over as West Ham manager in December 2006, with all but one of those signings coming from other English clubs. West Ham hope that Nani's expertise will not only bring them talent from all over the world, but will also help them save on transfer fees. In fact, the phrase "global market" was mentioned so often yesterday that you could be forgiven for thinking it was a discussion about the credit crunch rather than Nani's job description.

Scott Duxbury, West Ham United CEO, said: "West Ham United's aims are to continue to compete successfully in the Premier League and to challenge for trophies both domestically and in Europe. A key factor in helping to achieve this is the appointment of our technical director Gianluca Nani. Many months ago, the manager and the board agreed a job description for what was required from the appointment."Someone who could establish a leading domestic and European scouting network, ensure the Academy and the first team have access to the best players both domestically and internationally and establish an infrastructure to ensure the successful development of all our players. The manager led the recruitment process and interviewed all potential candidates which led to the eventual appointment of Gianluca. The club now has a major opportunity to grow and develop as a leading football force in the Premier League and we are extremely pleased Gianluca has agreed to join us and be part of the club and its ambitions going forward."

On the day of Nani's appointment, the board took the opportunity to outline its future ambitions for the club. An official statement said solid foundations had been built over many years and the club now has a major opportunity to grow and develop as a leading footballing force within the Premier League. It insisted that everyone at the club is committed to improvement and to a positive and dynamic future. To achieve that ambitions the club would be developed on sound football and business principles.

The objectives were listed as:

* Remain successful in the Premier League
* Challenge for the main English club trophies
* Qualify for European football
* Nurture young playing talent
* Develop our transfer trading policies and scouting networks
* Utilise the best physical and medical support services for the playing staff
* Improve our training ground facilities
* Examine ways of expanding our ground capacity via improvement or relocation
* Build our fan base and extend the links into local communities; and
* Strengthen the brand image of the club both nationally and internationally.

Interestingly, there is a subtle shift in tone away from some of the more sensational claims made during the time of Eggert Magnusson. The previously stated aim of Champions League football has now become simply European football; while the inclusion of the word 'improvement'- in both ground and training ground facilities- admits for the first time that relocation is not the only option presently being considered by the board.

No comments:


Copyright 2007 ID Media Inc, All Right Reserved. Crafted by Nurudin Jauhari