Our director of football talks transfer windows, scouting and the identification of suitable players in his latest thought-provoking column.
THIS SEASON WILL be quite dramatic because, apart from the usual aspects of change, transfer windows are being introduced for the first time in the English game.
This means, in effect, that until August 31 you can do transfer business from the end of any one season. Then there is only one transfer window in January where you are able to sign players.
However, it could well be that the Nationwide League clubs who have campaigned vigorously against the introduction of transfer windows - a UEFA/FIFA initiative - will be absolved from this restriction. It looks as though they will be allowed ten transfers per season out of the window period with their fellow Nationwide League clubs.
This will enable them to take loan players at various times and help them when they fall short of resources.
What the transfer windows will do is make managers and coaches work with their existing staff and squads harder and more thoroughly, rather than have the option of disregarding people.
In the past, it has been known for managers to come to a club and only fancy two thirds of the squad - and have several players who they don't fancy at all. These players can be excluded totally, much to the chagrin of club chairman who possibly paid a big fee for the players along with sizable wages.
With the new ruling, clubs will have to be more exact in their judgement then ever before. Often buying bad players can blot the copybook of a manager. No one can say every player a manager signs will be successful, but a manager needs to be successful with about 70 per cent of players he signs.
Who actually identifies players to bring into a club? The manager must always buy in the senior players at the time. One does hear of chairmen buying players in the lower leagues and, indeed, abroad.
Wealthy presidents hand players to the coach in countries such as Spain or Italy. They have a meeting, where all the presidents get together and they make 'arrangements' and the players are presented to supporters as part of the package promised when he was elected.
It is a strange system, completely unheard of in this country, where the manager was once King. No longer is this really the case. Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest, Lawrie McMenemy at Southampton, Graham Taylor at Watford, I think I did at Luton and certainly Alex Ferguson at Manchester United - the days of one man running the show are gone now.
Not because of PLCs, but because the boards of most clubs have taken a more active interest in the finances of a club and how the money is spent. Therefore, identification of players has to be even more 'spot on'.
I believe it is the most important part of the club. Buying well, particularly younger players, is absolutely vital.
Many clubs now have caught a massive cold; the way players have come into this country for inflated fees and salaries and are now unable to be 'shifted'. Clubs are stuck with what they've got and, until they release players, chairmen will not allow new players to join a club. It is a fact of life.
We have several scouts out in the field every weekend in various regions in this country. Partly for the enjoyment they get watching football, but with one eye acutely on a player that might be good enough for Tottenham Hotspur.
If a player is strongly recommended - and vibes come back very quickly from within the game and there is a grapevine about any emerging players - one of our senior staff would go and others from the club would follow.
Some players can be watched many times before any decision either way is made.
One example that springs to mind is the case of Matthew Taylor at Luton last season - many, many clubs tracked him. We had already bought a player from Luton in the shape of Gary Doherty.
Taylor's contract was coming to an end and every club was looking at the player. They all probably had differing views on the ability and potential of the player and he ended up at Portsmouth.
Every top club in the country will have looked at him, seen him, assessed him. That is just one example. His then manager Joe Kinnear put in the paper with regards to Tottenham that if Ziege is worth X-million, his player must be worth double-X.
All sorts of psychology and mind games come into play when a player is about to be sold.
That why in football it is very important that someone with knowledge has a realistic stance when it comes to the valuation of players.
After all, who values players? Is it the chairmen or the manager? Has the manager got a sense of value? Are the selling club over pricing a player?
The current state of the market means that most prices have come down dramatically. Indeed, as someone remarked, 'you can't give 'em away...'
Everyone needs to reduce, but every manager always wants another two players to 'complete' the jigsaw - even Alex Ferguson is never satisfied.
It is a fact of life and chairmen have always, in jest, said to managers: 'Don't tell me you only need another two or three players - you've just had them!
It can be a vicious circle, and supporters should have more faith and patience in what managers are trying to do. Not only in buying players through their scouting system, but in bringing players through from within.
It is a sad fact of life that, through media hype, we are being attached with players and most of it is the work of agents. Nobody ever stops to think that we 'might' have players in our youth team that we want to push forward.
Our record is good in this respect and we have to produce our own because of the current state of finances within the game.
There are many, many aspects to signing players and that is why football people have to get their heads together and make sure they are not overpaying.
Overpaying for the wrong players on too many occasions makes the inevitable, inevitably happen...