Goodwin: St Mirren must cast net for new talent far and wide

The player turnover at St Mirren in the past two years has been so dizzying you wonder if the club use peel-off letters for putting the names on their players’ shirts.

Jim Goodwin says the club must be prepared to look beyond the market in Scotland.

Jim Goodwin recognises the need not simply to improve recruitment but completely overhaul the scouting and player identification. To do that, he knows that remaining in post for the duration of his three-year contract is crucial – a length of tenure that has proved beyond the eight managers the club has appointed in the past five years.

With the help of two men who have previously occupied his position in chief executive Tony Fitzpatrick and technical director Gus MacPherson he is convinced that the club can move away from the personnel churn that has proved problematic.

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“The club has lacked stability for years. That’s the bottom line,” said Goodwin, who has added Kyle McAllister, pictured, and Callum Waters – the latter on loan from Kilmarnock – ahead of their hosting of Aberdeen this afternoon.

“Managers have come in and put something in place. Then the next one has binned it and used their system. I am here for the next three years and more hopefully, I want to make the club better. I did that at Alloa. I said I wanted to leave it in a better position than when I arrived and I felt we did that. We did great things behind the scenes with the academy by bringing in better scouts and coaches. Peter Grant will hopefully get the benefits of that and I notice he’s already promoted a few of the boys up.

“It’s not about me being a clever clogs at St Mirren and reinventing the wheel. We are a Premiership club and this is what we should be doing. You look at Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Motherwell… they will all be doing this. If they are doing it, then we need to.

“We aren’t asking for stuff that will cost an arm and a leg – but we need to recruit better. The Scottish market is far too small to be working in. If you only have eyes here, you will just churn out the same stuff.

“We need to be in England and Ireland, and we need to be taking a flight abroad now and again.

“We just need to be more proactive. We don’t want to get to December and then say, ‘Oh, we need a full-back’. As soon as this window closes, we will plan for January. When that window closes, we plan for the summer. We will have a list of players we can maybe get on pre-contracts. It’s about being a professional, well-run club and that’s what I want to bring.

“It’s difficult for every club to find players. We all have different parameters. But we just try to do as many background checks as we can. Between myself, Gus and Tony we’ve built up a fair few contacts over the years in the game. There are great platforms now for us to buy into like Wyscout and Instat.

“It’s important to have references from people that you trust. Agents can send you all the clips you want and make a player look like Messi. You just see the good bits, not the bad bits. The good thing about Wyscout is you see absolutely everything.

“Ilkay Durmus [for instance] was someone who came recommended from an agent we knew. We did our homework on him and you could see against Hibs [in last week’s 1-0 defeat at Easter Road] the quality he has.

“The main concern now is that we don’t ask enough of the new boys who haven’t played a lot of football or have a proper pre-season under their belts. It’s massive that they get through the next few weeks without picking up niggles.

“It can be overwhelming the amount of players you get put to you. I get sent hundreds of names but you have to separate the good ones. Because there can be a gem in there somewhere. When this window closes, we’re going to have a sit-down and chat about recruitment, which is the most important part of any club now.

“We can’t just work window to window. It can’t be panic stations when a window opens. We have to be more prepared and look at how good our scouting system is. It’s something we can improve on. Motherwell are a great example of what you can do and what you can bring up from England if you’ve got eyes and ears there.

“I want to improve that side of the club and I’ve got the backing of the board – as well as Gus and Tony – to do it.

“It’s not about pummelling money in. It’s just getting people in who we trust and who have an eye for a player. Non-league in England is a good market for us because it’s one we can afford.

“You can unearth a gem or two in England’s lower leagues and also over in Ireland. There are some fantastic young players in the Irish Premier League right now who are more than good enough to play here.

“I’ve got eyes and ears over there so that’s another market that we’ll hopefully dip into as well.”