October 12, 2019
Recordier, the story of a reunion
“Hello, how are you? Just to let you know that I am back.” On 23 September, he reappeared just as he had left: with class and discretion. However, you only had to witness the effect that his return provoked in the corridors of the training ground to understand that above and beyond being a scout, it was a real gentleman that was returning. Don’t count on Serge Recordier to be the centre of attention. With his unmoveable accent - a sign of his origins in Vaucluse, the scout (57 years old) prefers to sit in the shadows rather than being in the spotlight. After a year in Monaco, he accepted to go against his nature and to speak about himself, his departure, his return and his world.
Serge, how did your return to the club come about?
Julien Fournier got in touch with me a couple of weeks ago. He suggested that I should come back. He asked me if I wanted to be a part of this new project. I said yes. Of course I was interested. I stayed for a long time, we did some great things together, especially with Jean-Phi Mattio, who I know very well. I said to myself that it would be good to experience this adventure.
What were your reasons for leaving the club in 2018?
Because it had been a long time that I had been at the club. 12 years had passed (he pauses)... I said to myself that I needed to ask questions of myself and to put myself under pressure. Monaco was an interesting challenge, which allowed me to stay in the region. I was there as a youngster, I joined the club when I was 14 years, I turned pro there and stayed there for eight years, I played youth internationals, I became Champion of France with the club (during the 1981-82 season)... I wanted to experience it, and I did. It didn’t go how I would have liked it to. I don’t like to talk badly about things, or have regrets. That’s the way it is. I was lucky that OGC Nice called me, and even though I had other opportunities, I didn’t hesitate for one minute. I am delighted to be back at my club, because it’s the club that I have spent most time with during my career. A club that I love and where I am able to do what I love.
What do you mean?
With Monaco, I had more responsibility for the scouting network. But to be honest, if I am going to take the lead on a player and to say that we need to go for it, I might as well manage the team, and I am not looking for that. I am better at discovering players, giving my view on them and then getting involved. That makes me happy. That’s why I am happy to be back, there are lots of people that I really like here, things have always gone very well.
“In this job, like in life in general, you can’t do much on your own.”
During your season away from the club, did you continue to keep an eye on what was happening here?
Of course. There are new players: Christophe Herelle, Youcef Atal. I was involved in their recruitment with my colleagues, so I wanted to see how it went for them.
And what did you think?
I wasn’t disappointed. Atal, let’s just say it was love at first sight. I saw him in a match against Mouscron, it wasn’t easy. My colleagues also watched him. We all fell in love with the player, because he has characteristics that we rarely see. He is quick, everything he does is natural, he delights in playing football. Herelle, we also watched him for a long time. We knew that he could play in the middle or at right back. Danilo didn’t have a full season because of injuries, he hasn’t yet had the chance to show what he is capable of.
In what role have you returned to the club?
I am a scout, like all of my colleagues. Nothing more, nothing less. In this job, like in life in general, you can’t do much on your own. I prefer talking about the work we do together. We go to watch matches, we produce our reports, we discuss. We have very regular meetings with Julien Fournier and all of the scouts. We are there for the club and the coach, Patrick Vieira. He was World Champion, has an incredible history in football, but he is still a young coach and I think that he needs to feel that he is surrounded with trusted advisors. I will do everything I can, for him to have that confidence in me and to help him as much as possible.
What does the arrival of INEOS change in your work?
We need to be even better. Then again, if we saw another Atal, Herelle or Boudaoui tomorrow – young players with potential - we can’t prevent ourselves from pursuing this type of recruitment. However, we now know that today, without spending a fortune, we of course have greater means. In the past, we had difficulties in buying players like Marcus Thuram, who went to Germany for a certain amount… If today there is a player like that who is of interest, we can explore this kind of purchase. That’s why we can’t afford to make mistakes. It has of course happened in the past, to me too. But now when you see the level of transfer fees that are invested in football, you have to reduce the margin for error. It’s important.
How do you work to reduce that margin for error?
By watching matches lots of times. The job of a scout is a job that requires passions we go to matches, we come home, we produce our reports and once we are at home, the work continues. You have to watch, again and again, to reduce as much as possible, any level of doubt. Then, the human side of things is always difficult to control. But, by watching a player on several occasions, picking up as much information about him, always with a level of discretion, you give yourself the best possible chance to get it right.
You mention discretion. Is it important?
It’s essential. In our job, there is so much competition, so you need to be curious and open to put in the work needed to succeed. Getting information on a player, the way he lives his life, his mentality, that is all part of our role. But at the same time, you need to be careful, because when asking lots of questions, other clubs become alerted to the interest, other scouts. If we start to follow a player, it means that others can start following the player too. You need to be curious, but at the same time, quite intelligent to remain as discreet as possible. It’s not easy.
What role does improvisation play in the role of a scout?
We have well established programmes, but something unexpected can always come about. Last year, I went to see Mouscron – Courtrai to watch one of Mouscron strikers, and then in the end, we discovered Youcef Atal. Sometimes we go to watch one player and we notice another. It doesn’t happen very often, but it has already happened to me. That’s what we call a touch of luck, like with Ricardo Pereira.
To begin with, I saw him play at right wing for Guimaraes. He was 18, with some qualities but I thought that he lacked accuracy in his crosses and final product. I thought that he was missing lots of things. Then, I went to see a match at Estoril, against Guimaraes, he started at right wing and then after 10-15 minutes, the full back was sent off and so he dropped back. And in a deeper role, he was incredibly strong... I explained that to the player a few months later, he couldn’t believe that I was at that game. Sometimes, as I say, there is a bit of luck. You can’t deny yourself a bit of luck.