Bolton to move away from "bloke in flat cap" scouting to data-based system

"I want our scouting network to be this big!" - Stu Forster

Prior to Owen Coyle's arrival at Bolton Wanderers, the Trotters were famous for housing a scouting network that looked far and wide for talent. Quality players were brought in from France, Turkey, Norway, South Korea, Holland, and a whole host of other countries for relatively small fees. However, upon Coyle's appointment, Bolton's transfer network shrank and barely looked outside of England and Scotland for new talent.

Dougie Freedman aims to bring the Trotters' transfer prowess back and has continued his summer Reebok renovation project, this time focusing on a scouting overhaul. Bolton Wanderers will move back to a data-based scouting system that will quantify players' attributes and abilities in hopes of objectively bringing the best players through. The new system, per a Bolton News report, will be headed up by Brian Prestidge, the club's Head of Analytical Development, who has been at Bolton for nine years. Prestidge will team up with the team's new Head of Sports Development, Mark Leathers. Other members of the team include performance analyst Lee Sargeson and newly-appointed Head of Opposition Analysis, Vinny North.

Prestidge was just recently at a conference on the subject in New York City that featured a number of high-profile speakers including NBA stars Amare Stoudemire & Jerry Stackhouse, Olympic swimming coach Bob Bowden, and newly-appointed Manchester United manager, David Moyes. According to the Bolton News, Wanderers' new-look transfer system will use Everton's model as a blueprint.

Speaking to the newspaper, manager Dougie Freedman sounded very upbeat about the changes:

"Gone are the days where you've got a bloke stood behind the goal with a flat cap watching players for the club and scribbling notes down on a notepad. That might be how other people like to do it, but we want to come at it a from a different way completely.

"We are making quite a few changes behind the scenes that the fans might not see but that I think will have a really positive effect on the way we work here.

"Brian will be working very closely with Mark Leather and that will provide the basis of how we sign players, based on their physical attributes."

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