Exclusive: Celtic-linked David Webb on the Director of Football role, working with Poch and future
With Celtic looking to appoint a Director of Football, it’s only natural that some key names have entered the fray.
67 Hail Hail’s Hamish Carton spoke to Webb about his experience, philosophy and working with coaches like Mauricio Pochettino and Eddie Howe.
Celtic target? David Webb discusses the Director of Football/Sporting Director role
Linked with Celtic, David Webb cleared up a couple of myths about the role itself. While the Sporting Director/Director of Football role can be muddied by a mix of responsibilities, Webb helped to explain what the job actually is, in layman’s terms.
Webb told us:
“You have a broad range of responsibility. You have the chance to utilise your best skills for the club at that time. For example, at Huddersfield, my remit was to help locate and find a new manager that fit in with the values of the club. Alongside that was footballing strategy; academy, sports science, analytics, physical conditioning, medical.
“If you can have an effect, with all those footballing departments, and a long-term vision for the club, then it gives you the best chance to be successful going forward.”
Webb on Pochettino
Webb, officially, had the role of Head of Elite Potential Identification at Tottenham. Working alongside current PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino, the UEFA License holder and Sports Psychology graduate told us:
“When I came to Tottenham, I had a good understanding of knowing how [Pochettino] worked as a coach, and as a person. My job as head of Elite was to identify players between the ages of 17-21. Players who could first and foremost train with the first-team, and if they were good enough, compete for a starting position.
“Mauricio is a modern, forward-thinking coach in terms of the way he likes to play. Very attacking, very front-foot, likes to press and transition, lots of speed and creating space in the final third. It’s a really exciting brand of football. To have that as your make-up, to recruit for, it makes your job a little bit easier. You understand the kind of players you need to recruit for the first team.
“As much as he was a world class coach, he was an excellent people person as well. He encouraged the players to be very humble and respectful to all members of staff. There was a lot of hand-shaking going on.
“He wanted to have that family feel to the football club. Not just the players, but the whole staff. Anyone that was associated with Tottenham, he wanted them to be involved.”
Player integration: a problem at Celtic
Carton asked potential Celtic Director of Football David Webb about his experience integrating new players into a squad. Celtic have had particular concerns in this area, with Hatem Abd Elhamed departing the club to return to Israel in the transfer window.
Webb told 67 Hail Hail about the process of welcoming players, and the behind-the-scenes work involved:
“It’s not an easy process by any means, and this is where the homework comes in. If the player has a family, young children, or he’s married, has a partner, it’s best to find out their interests and their needs as well. They’re going to be happy if their family’s happy.
“If we knew the player was coming to sign, it would be getting the interests of what they need: which area to live, what type of school would be best for their children, interests for their partner.
“Homesickness is homesickness, you can never counteract for that. But I think if you make them feel part of the club early on… if they’re happy as can be moving to a new city or different country, it’s going to give the player the best chance to succeed.”
Webb on Howe: a dynamic duo with Celtic future?
With Celtic and Eddie Howe talk making its way to websites, papers and forums, we just had to ask. What kind of manager is Howe, and what qualities would he bring to the Bhoys?
“Eddie was excellent to work with. He was similar to Poch in a way; very people-orientated in how he wanted the club to run. He wanted a nice family feel. He was like a teacher on the training pitch. [He is] an excellent coach, had a clear methodology in playing style that he wanted the players to adhere to.
“That definitely helped my job in terms of recruiting with him, because we had a clear identity of what type of profile of player we needed for the club.
“Very good at working in a coaching capacity, but also very good at working with staff. He wanted to get to know the players, his staff, everyone in the club. I think that’s important. When you see a head coach adhere to not only his footballing qualities, but also his human qualities around the training ground.
“Any club that Eddie goes to in the future, that’s the sort of atmosphere he likes to bring. Clear playing style, really good with people, real good identity and wants everyone to be on the same hymn sheet going forward.”
To watch Hamish’s full interview with Celtic-linked David Webb, click here. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for regular, in-depth Celtic content.