Lee’s going the extra mile for Pompey’s future

Lee Maybury and Steve Cotterill. Picture: Joe Pepler
Lee Maybury and Steve Cotterill. Picture: Joe Pepler

It’s the first step on a long road but Pompey’s scouting network is up and running again.

After the club’s financial disaster in recent years, it’s no major surprise the search for talent was seen as a lesser priority.

In fact, it effectively ground to a halt during the club’s period of administration.

But Lee Maybury – a 40-year-old from Burnley – was appointed as the club’s chief scout on a full-time basis over the summer.

And he is the man entrusted by Steve Cotterill to oversee the exhaustive process of looking at unknown players from all over the country, while also picking out the chinks in the armour of opposition teams.

Cotterill and coaches Stuart Gray and Guy Whittingham will also get out and about when their work on the training ground permits.

But Maybury holds a vital role away from club headquarters.

While some clubs have scouts dotted around the globe to identify potential future stars, he is currently a one-man-band with a jam-packed diary that takes him all over the country.

A week with as many as nine matches to watch is not uncommon for Maybury, who is no stranger to the domestic motorways of England and could probably tell you a clever route to bypass the M1 roadworks without a second thought.

But while it’s a lot to ask of one person – and he’s keen to see the club’s scouting operation expanded in time – at least it’s a start.

They’ve been away for a while but Pompey are back on the road and unearthing fresh talent.

Maybury said: ‘The scouting came to a halt when the club went through its problems.

‘It will take some time to get it back to where they want it to be.

‘There were other priorities and I understand that.

‘But I personally think scouting is a big part of it and I know the gaffer does as well.

‘Of course, we have to do it one step at a time.

‘Some clubs have too many scouts and some don’t have enough.

‘Ideally, we would like three or four scouts – maybe one in the north, one in the south, one in Wales and one in the Midlands.

‘Sometimes I find myself going to London to do a match report and there is player we want to have a look at playing in the north west on the same day.

‘It would be ideal to be able to send someone because it’s always good to get a few opinions.

‘Ultimately, we would like more scouts and a bigger database but that comes down to finance and I don’t get involved with that.

‘But I cover the whole of the country, so I am racking up the miles.’

After doing the role on a part-time basis last season, Maybury went full-time this term.

Having worked closely with Cotterill at Burnley, he is sent to watch opponents before they play Pompey.

He said: ‘I worked with the gaffer at Burnley and when he got the job at Portsmouth, he asked me to come in part-time to do some scouting.

‘It was mainly the match analysis stuff, where you look at opposition teams to work out their strengths and weaknesses, their set-pieces and that kind of thing.

‘But the position became full-time this season, so I will watch the opposition and will give an indication of what we’re up against.

‘The gaffer, Stuart (Gray) and Guy (Whittingham) have a good knowledge of teams anyway.

‘But it just helps to have that fresh look the week before we play them.’

Aside from the match analysis, he is also tasked with running the rule over possible transfer targets.

Maybury said: ‘The gaffer has a fantastic knowledge of players and he knows them better than I do.

‘He will be aware of a player and ask me to have a look at him to give my opinion.

‘But I do see younger players coming through in academy games he won’t have seen and I speak to him on a daily basis about players.

‘It’s all about getting a good database of players together so that if I’m asked a question of “do I know a player for a certain position”, I can then come up with some answers.

‘We use a company called Scout7 and when I input the information, the rest of the staff can log into that and get to it at any time.

‘They can then see my reports or the players I’m recommending.’

It’s a painstaking task and, as Pompey are no longer able to use financial muscle to bring players to Fratton Park as they did during their Premier League years, more research is required into the younger market.

And while he knows it is a long-term objective, Maybury is certain the move will pay off.

He said: ‘I was watching Manchester City’s Academy recently and there are some talented kids coming through who are just not going to get a game if they stay there.

‘Some will come through but you have to be exceptional to do so at Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea or any of the really big clubs these days.

‘So it’ s good to know what is coming through.

‘Sometimes it’s like you are working a few years ahead but it’s definitely worth it in the long run.’