Interview with Dane Murphy in today's Athletic | Vital Football

Interview with Dane Murphy in today's Athletic

mao tse tung

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Some of the points of interest and quotes from the interview:

“It helps that you have played, when you get into this position. But there are plenty of people who have never played the game who have been very good CEOs and sporting directors.

“My career has given me a leg up but I know I still have plenty to learn and I know I can do that from somebody like Chris Hughton. His wealth of knowledge is far beyond mine. Just working with him and listening to him will be so helpful in my own personal progression.”

During his two-year tenure, Barnsley went from narrowly avoiding relegation back into League One, to securing a play-off place. His work did not go unnoticed, with several clubs offering him roles this summer.

But, as he gets his feet under the table at Forest, his ultimate ambition is to lead the club back into the Premier League, after more than two decades away. But he also hopes to help Forest gain an identity — a Forest way of doing things. And he feels the two things may ultimately prove to be interlinked.

“It is important to have that identity; you want to have a club-driven philosophy in recruitment and in a way to play. It is extremely important, in fact,” says Murphy. “Chris has a managerial style and an approach that has brought him a career of success. He knows how to win games, he knows how to progress in this division and how to win promotion.

“I think with our methodology and recruitment we can easily sync with the way he wants to play. There needs to be a balance in the squad, between experience and younger players. But there can be a seamless transition between what we are trying to implement and in the way Chris manages his team.”

As they work to make additions, Forest are armed with a new look recruitment team. Chris Brass, previously head of football operations at Wigan Athletic, and George Syrianos, formerly an analytics expert at German Bundesliga side Stuttgart, have joined as part of the overhaul.

And Murphy confirms that Forest will take a methodical, careful approach to new signings. Data will be important, as the appointment of Syrianos suggests. But so too will old-fashioned scouting.

“It is not just data-driven, it is an all-around thing. Like anything in life, your approach to recruitment needs to be balanced,” says Murphy. “You see clubs that are strictly data-driven. They might get it right for one year — and then for five years it does not work.

“There is the ‘eyes on’ approach where you use scouts, like people have done for 150 years, and that might work for a while but then not for years.

“The modern approach is to use data to cut through the fat, because there are so many players throughout the world. If you have a way that you want to play and the manager tells you ‘this is what I need in this position’, you can change your algorithm and data to fit around that, to cut away the fat and then have a smaller recruitment group to look at — then that is when the scouts, the video analysts, the first-team staff and manager all come into it, to provide the ‘eyes-on’ balance.

“It starts with the data-driven model but it is not just about that.”

Murphy says there is no sense of panic about a lack of much business so far, with the market in general yet to properly take off this summer.

“Globally everything is slow. I do think everything will pick up in the next couple of weeks but it has been frustrating, if I am going to be politically correct,” says Murphy. “There is hesitancy, there are a lot of cases of ‘if this happens, we will do that’ or ‘if that happens, we won’t do that’.

“I like to be concrete and focused on one thing. That is the way I like to work. But there is not a lot of that in the market right now. That is not me blaming anyone, because it is extremely difficult for everyone. It is about trying to find a way to stay true to yourself and what we are trying to do, without getting worried about the fact that the season is coming up.

“Luckily we have Chris as manager and he is a composed, calm character. Having that, rather than a younger, less experienced coach, who might have been saying ‘I want new signings yesterday’ does help us.”

Murphy has met with Forest majority owner Evangelos Marinakis, who is also the figurehead at Olympiakos.

“It is his club and he is a very smart, very intellectual and intelligent person. You want to speak to him; you want to seek his opinion,” says Murphy. “If you are trying to make these decisions without the person at the head of the ship, who is probably also the smartest man in the room, you may not get those decisions right all of the time.”

Murphy arrives as a replacement for Ioannis Vrentzos. But, while the trusted advisor to Marinakis will stand down as CEO, he will retain a place on the board. Murphy regards his influence as being a positive one.

“Ioannis and I will remain in contact every day. I speak to Ioannis two or three times a day. He will be working from afar, but he will still have the pulse of the team,” says Murphy. “His guidance and his knowledge of the inner workings of the club, the league and certain aspects of the organisation are vital for me. I will lean on him as much as possible.

“Maybe the results on the field were below expectations last season. I know they were. But Ioannis put in more work than you can possibly imagine, in the process of trying to get the club back to where it belongs. The building blocks are there for us now, as a group to push things forward.

“I am very excited to be here. This is just a different animal for me. Barnsley was incredible. The people there and the atmosphere, the fans… but this is just on a different level.

“I walked out onto the pitch when I first arrived — it takes your breath away. You look up and take in your surroundings and just feel it. I played in stadiums like this but when you are part of it; when you are helping steer the direction of a club, it feels different.

“Excited is one word and there are a tonne of other descriptive words I could use on top of that. But if I did, I would be in danger of sounding like a sappy American.

“I did have other opportunities offered to me in Europe and in the Premier League. But the project and the ideas behind what Forest want to do, I could not say no to it.

“I hope to bring a modern approach, but most importantly also to be collaborative and have everyone on board. I get teased for using the same phrase a lot but I want us all to be moving together, towards ‘true north’. We need to find our true north.”


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Dissapointing to hear hes talking with the previous clown 3 times a day, I wonder if things dont start well if he will be on the end of a tantrum. Quite inexperienced sure, but be careful who you learn from :)

Talks a good game, all work in the same direction... Yeah, to be fair weve heard that from every single appointment for the last 20 years.

Sounds like im knocking him perhaps, Im definately not, its just this appointment is about sorting the team out on the pitch, not steering the ship. In only 5 months or so we will be into his second window and then we will start to judge no doubt :)