Rob Newman’s appointment has been hailed by many as the final piece in the jigsaw of this wonderful, exciting new era we’re currently experiencing. Since David Moyes’ return to the club in December 2019, the club has only been heading in one direction.
The transition from relegation candidates to a top-six club in just two years has been a remarkable journey, only bettered in recent seasons by Leicester City’s miracle journey from Championship outfit to Premier League winners in the same time frame.
One of the standout improvements at the club during this period has been recruitment. Under the sole watch of David Sullivan, the club’s recruitment strategy never really felt like it had a purpose. It was often scatter-gun, inconsistent, erratic and without meaning.
Now, with Moyes having a controlling role in the recruitment for his team, you can barely count on one hand the number of transfers he has signed who just haven’t really worked out. Almost all of them have improved the starting XI and all of them have certainly improved the squad in one way or another.
Still, the absence of a Head of Recruitment and/or Director of Football was still at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Surely Moyes cannot be left to do all of the recruiting off the pitch and the miracle working on it. It’s too much for a manager to control for an extended period of time. It wouldn’t take too long before something would have to give and in this case, if one gives then the other suffers. Both must work in tandem, like clockwork.
So the appointment of Manchester City’s international scout, Rob Newman, as the club’s new Head of Recruitment certainly feels like further progress has been made off the pitch to coincide with what we’re seeing on it. Manchester City’s recruitment is almost faultless. Of course, that’s aided handsomely with a bottomless pit of money and the best manager in the world, but all of that can mean nothing if you haven’t got the right men behind the scenes to make it all come together.
Newman has played a key role in City’s recruitment over the last 12 years and while it’s not 100% clear which players he was responsible for bringing to the Etihad, you’ve just got to take a look at their recruitment over the last decade to have a pretty good idea of the calibre of footballer he’s been scouting. His role at West Ham, though, is a big step up from the one he had in Manchester. Here he gets the opportunity to run the scouting department, shape its strategy and call the shots when it comes to assignments.
Before, he was the one being sent on scouting assignments and then reporting back. Now he’s the one deciding who goes where and what type of player our scouts should be reporting back on. It’s a big shift in responsibility, but the club seems very confident in his ability to be a success. None more so than Moyes, who told the club’s official website: ‘Rob has fantastic experience and a wonderful pedigree in the game. He has rightly earned a lot of recognition for his excellent work at Manchester City and we are very pleased that he has chosen to take up this exciting new challenge here at West Ham.’
And Newman, upon his arrival, made it clear that while he’s relishing the opportunity in east London and is looking forward to making an impact on the club’s scouting policies, there’s a lot more to it than just picking players who are already playing well for their current clubs. ‘The most important thing is you can’t just bring players in who you think “he’s a great player for that team, he’s automatically going to make us a great team”. That’s not how it works,’ he said. ‘There are different players, different teams, different ways, different managers have different styles, so we’ve got to do it in a way that’s the best for West Ham United.’
They’re refreshing words, especially when you consider it seemed like the complete opposite was happening when Mario Husillos was in a similar role at West Ham and he was doing all the work for his mate, Manuel Pellegrini. Now it seems like we’ve got a proper professional in charge of it all, working alongside a manager who has already proved that he can spot a player who fits the profile perfectly.
We must remember Newman’s appointment is not going to suddenly see a complete shift in transfer strategy, nor is it going to mean us suddenly signing Europe’s biggest players or South America’s hottest wonderkids. That’s a bit further along on the journey. And we must also remember that there will be a few dud signings along the way.
Not even Man City or PSG get it right every time. Just look at Eliaquim Mangala and Jese Rodriguez, to name just one flop for each of those clubs. For now, the next stop on this incredible journey is January 2022. Newman’s first mission is to find Michail Antonio some help up front.
For the sake of Antonio’s hamstrings, this is probably the biggest assignment of his career to date.