According to Wikipedia, a football scout attends football matches on behalf of clubs to collect intelligence. Primarily, there are two types of scouts: player scouts and tactical scouts.

Sportscorna.com‘s concentration will focus on Player Scouts and their role in the heartbeat of the world – football.

Who is a Player Scout and what is his role?

Player scouts or physical scouts evaluate the talent of footballers with a view to signing them on a professional contract for their employers.

With the job description of a player scout sorted. The next question is to channel our efforts on what scouts look out for. It is imperative to note that scouts don’t have a common assessment rather their assessment is dependent on the portfolio of the player being scouted i.e. The scout assesses the striker differently from a defender.

Today’s concentration is on full backs or wing backs – left backs (LB), right backs (RB), left wing back (LWB) and right wing back (RWB).

It will be heart wrenching to have a scout in the stands evaluating a player with the said player failing to meet the grading system of the scout.

The trend of modern football requires the full back or wing back to have a set of attributes which is in sharp contrast to the same role two decades ago.

Wide defenders (full backs) need to be more athletic regularly joining attacks to provide an outlet from the flanks and increasing the numbers up front.

The technical attributes a scout looks for in a fullback include:

Anticipation

It usually describes an activity or event shortly before it happens. It also means an ability to recognize the pattern of the play and use situational probability, often referred to as ‘reading the game’.

This attribute helps the player both in defence and in attack. It requires a lot of concentration and intelligence which can either make or break the defender in key moments of the game.

It is the foundation or premise on which all other qualities are built on.

Crossing

Initially, crossing in dangerous positions was the sole prerogative of the wingers but modern football permits full-backs to bomb forward and initiate crosses.

This attribute is highly dependent on the player’s intuitive skill. The weight and height of the cross can either waste play or yield into goal scoring opportunities.

The types of crossing – drilled cross (grounded or carpet), chipped cross, in-swinger and outswinging is dependent on the intelligence of the full back to determine which type to use in a peculiar situation.

Marking ability

Marking aims at denying the attacker control of the football. There are two types of marking: zonal and man marking.

The type of marking utilized in the game is dependent on the tactic issued out by the coach.

Man marking deals with taking responsibility of a specific opponent player rather than covering space whiles Zonal marking is the vice versa.

Full backs are prime targets for tricky wingers and will require discipline, awareness and anticipation in order to triumph in 1v1 duels.

Pace

This attribute, despite the technical and tactical innovations of the modern game can never be outmoded. It is this attribute that sees defenders roasted, turned inside-out and left for dead.

When the tables are turned full backs with great pace are priceless assets to their teams as they become outlets for attack on the flanks and explosive weapons for counter attacks.

The pace of a full back can spare him when he is caught out of position, as a quick dart back to position can spare his blushes and make recovery runs.

Stamina

Energy is defined as the ability to do work whiles Stamina is the ability to do work repeatedly – endurance.

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This physical attribute is both inherent and adopted, through diet and training.

The modern game is built around pace – bags of pace, hence Stamina is prerequisite in succeeding at the top. Aside goalkeepers, sweepers and defensive midfielders, the full backs position requires a truck load of Stamina.

Combining defensive and attacking duties within ninety minutes at high octane level can only be achieved with cardiovascular endurance or stamina.

A full back, who lacks endurance will certainly not make the starting lineup and will see his game time reduced to crumbs.

Tackling ability

This is where the initial skill set of anticipation and awareness plays a crucial role. One mistake can prove costly – receiving a caution or being sent off or causing a set-piece in dangerous positions.

The primary and important purposes of tackling are to dispossess an opponent of the ball, to stop the player from gaining ground towards goal or to stop them from carrying out what they intend.

Manchester United’s Aaron Wan Bissaka has perfected this attribute and is one the full backs that does excellently well in 1v1 situations and making good recovery tackles.

It is no surprise that full backs Ricardo Pereira (119) and Wan Bissaka (99) lead the tackles chart in the 2019-2020 English Premier League.

Team responsibility

Football is a team sport and thus requires a collective effort from every department on the field.

One moment of loss of concentration and the goalkeeper will be picking the ball at the back of the net with the rest of his team mates walking with tails in between their legs.

Regardless of the tactic employed full backs have a key role to play both in attack and in defense. Hence, it’s rare for coaches to substitute them during the course of the game because of their importance.

A full back is required to exude personal and team responsibility by reading in between the lines in knowing the decision to take at which time.

The timing

Anticipation, awareness, marking and tackling ability walk in tandem with timing forwards.

The timing determines your decision at a peculiar time, the pace needed to close down space, the run needed to make a perfect recovery, the right tackle to break opposition play, proper positioning and game reading ability to make an interception falls under timing.

Runs

One attribute interlaced with pace and Stamina is runs. A good combination of these will increase the number of runs the full back makes within ninety minutes bar the coach’s approach to the game.

A static full back is mostly evident when the team is operating on a low block approach thus reducing the number of runs. However, a fast-paced team increases the number of runs made by the full backs.

For instance, Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker are one of the few full backs with the license to make a lot of runs due to Pep Guardiola’s ultra attacking style of play.

Work rate

Work rate refers to the extent to which a player contributes to running and chasing in a match while not in possession of the ball.

Work rate is generally indicated by the distance covered by a player during a match.

A high work rate is valued because players with this characteristic will be able to play a more active role in defending and attacking throughout a match.

A quick look at this attribute in perspective saw Luca Milivojevc covering more distance than any other player in the English Premier League last season with 447.1 km followed by Burnley’s Jack Cork with 445.6km whiles Jorginho finished with 418.8km.

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