Toon scout Graham Carr scours globe for talent…310-28326328/2/


Newcastle United chief scout Graham Carr believes “exciting times” lie ahead for the club, as he tells MARK DOUGLAS in an exclusive interview


“But there are a few other considerations – we want players with a bit of pace who can get about the park. And they have to be the right age and they have to come within the wage structure as well.


“That is quite a few things to look at admittedly, but I really think we have a good chance of getting the players that are on our list.


“Supporters would certainly be surprised at the pulling power of Newcastle United in France and Holland in particular. I would say that outside of the traditional big four we’re probably the biggest draw in those countries.


“That was something that I was always struck by, even when I was working for Spurs and at other clubs. Don’t under-estimate the name value of Newcastle United.


“Playing in front of 52,000 in the Premier League is a real incentive to many. I mean I have been to certain French clubs this season – clubs at the top of the league over there – and they are probably going to be playing in the Champions League next year, yet I could name three or four players who would join Newcastle tomorrow.


“They’ll all know about the way we’ve treated Hatem Ben Arfa. L’Equipe has been covering his recovery in detail and we’ve come across very positively.”


Does that infamous wage structure – debated in such great detail – not constrict the options available to United?


“Not really. The wages we can offer are better than they would be in many other European leagues,” he says.


“In places like Belgium, Holland and France the money isn’t probably quite as good.


“Germany is tougher because they do pay well – and the crowds are big over there as well.


“Of course, agents get involved and that complicates the situation, but if you hand-pick the players and do your research, you generally know the players in our bracket.


“We can’t compete with the resources of a Manchester City, but those clubs aren’t going to necessarily be looking at the same players that we are.


“In the next bracket of clubs, we’re at the top I believe.”


Top of the wish-list is a striker. Carr admits he has watched Lille striker Gervinho and Lorient hot shot Kevin Gamiero but the remit, again, is pretty specific.


“It is down to the manager and I will just put forward the options to him,” he said.


“But I think we’re looking at someone with pace, who can play off the shoulder. Maybe someone who is more of an out-and-out striker.


“We have plenty of options. I like to think we could have brought in somebody in January to replace Andy Carroll with a little bit more time, but it all happened quickly and in the end we couldn’t do it.


“I don’t like January anyway, to be honest. It is the desperation window in my opinion.”


Acting in haste is not something Carr is prone to do. Homework on players is the key and when you’re trying to unearth a rough diamond, that often extends to their backgrounds and home lives too.


On that front you can’t beat good old- fashioned leg work – such as picking up a few whispers from friendly taxi drivers. Instinct comes into it too – not everyone can handle life at United.


“Being a Geordie and having supported Newcastle gives me a bit of an advantage I think,” he said.


“You look at some players who are talented, but you just have to say ‘They’re not a Newcastle United player’.


“I know the crowd can be quick to get on your back at times. You have to have mental strength, you have to play a certain way. I always knew a guy like Tiote would be a big favourite.”


A kitty of near £35million must add to both the excitement and pressure on a Chief Scout with just a few months until the window swings open again in July?

“Yes they are exciting times ahead for the football club,” he said.


“There is added pressure because people know we have money to spend, but we have done our homework and tried to hand-pick players who will suit this club.


“You can’t promise a 100% success rate, but we know what we’re trying to do and the blueprint that we’ve got can bring success to Newcastle.”


MIKE ASHLEY is a “committed and passionate” Newcastle United owner, reckons Graham Carr.


He points to regular meetings with Ashley, managing director Derek Llambias and club secretary Lee Charnley as evidence that scouting and recruitment are near the top of the owner’s agenda.


“The owner and the senior staff are very much interested,” he said.


“I work very closely with Derek Llambias, Lee Charnley as well as the manager and Mike Ashley.


“I have regular meetings with the owner – I have met him on loads of occasions. It is good for me that there is interest in bringing players in.


“I know what the perception is outside of the club but he strikes me as a passionate man who is very committed to Newcastle United.


“They are knowledgeable. It’s amazing how interested they are really.”

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