There are more developments in the continuing saga of Tottenham Hotspur’s recruitment team. Today, ESPN is reporting that Head of Recruitment Paul Mitchell, he of the “black box” of player identification methodology, has left the club and is free to take another job in football.
Mitchell was hired in 2014 to oversee the areas of player recruitment along with former Leicester talent spotter Rob Mackenzie, and was highly regarded after but things apparently soured this summer when Spurs were unable (or unwilling) to sign some of Michell’s top identified talents such as Michy Batshuayi.
Mitchell submitted his resignation in the summer, but his contract stipulated a 16 month leave notice. However, weeks after Spurs hired Derby head of recruitment Steve Hitchen to serve as chief scout, Mitchell has been placed on “gardening leave” and is now free to seek employment elsewhere. Mackenzie and former chief scout Ian Broomfield have already left Spurs, and ESPN also notes that head of elite potential identification David Webb left the club last week.
If nothing else, this move will probably help clear up any awkwardness amongst Tottenham’s backroom staff. Mitchell clearly no longer wanted to be at Tottenham and was only staying because he was contractually obligated to be there. Much of his recruitment duties had seemingly been farmed out elsewhere in the club. While he’s still obligated to be paid by Tottenham for the duration of his leave time, cutting him loose might be the best thing for everybody.
This probably won’t do a whole lot to curtail the recent rumors that Spurs’ recruitment team is a bit of a mess right now, but it might be akin to ripping off the band-aid. I don’t have a real sense whether this level of scouting reorganization is a net positive or negative, but talent spotting is a critical part of running a football club, especially at a club like Spurs who relies on finding and developing hidden gems that might be overlooked by their bigger, richer competitors.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has been in the unenviable position of reorganizing Spurs’ talent identification team while at the same time trying to build a new stadium. If letting Mitchell – who is linked to the Rangers director of football position – depart the club is what it takes to allow Steve Hitchen to do his job effectively, then it’s the right move.