A relentless, almost 12-month-long season of football has finally drawn to a close. Whilst the result on the pitch, a sixth-place Ligue 1 finish, didn’t live up to objectives, AS Monaco’s Sporting Director Paul Mitchell says he is optimistic that the foundations for future success are being laid.
The on-pitch action is over, but it is expected to be a hectic summer behind the scenes at the Principality club. Mitchell is handing over the keys to the project to Thiago Scuro, however, before he makes his exit, he has plenty of work to do, as he told Monaco Life in a roundtable interview at the club’s Performance Centre in La Turbie on Thursday.
Monaco Life: First of all, what led you to choose Thiago Scuro as your successor?
Paul Mitchell: So we’ve had time to look at the market and look at many different candidates. I still think globally there’s a misinterpretation of the role in general. I think you guys often hear me say things like, it’s not just signing players. In some contexts, it is, in some clubs sporting directors just sign players and hire and fire coaches, but here it’s broader. We have two football investments across two countries, and you have to have an overview of all of that.
So when you actually go through the different components necessary to do this job, in Monaco but also have a vision into Belgium and create one aligned strategy, manage many different people across many different departments, it changes the profile somewhat. So we obviously did a very stringent interview process, we looked at multiple people with multiple profiles, Thiago is someone that I do know. I think that is clear. I was fortunate to work with him at Red Bull in the years that I was there, and through that interview process, he became the lead candidate.
He met with the President as well and he met with other members of the senior management team, and he was the standout. He was the standout for what we feel the next part of the journey needs to be. And I wouldn’t even say what the journey has been… because I’m not sure his profile was the right guy for when I came. As we built all of the structure, we’ve got a really solid platform across all the areas of performance in both clubs. It’s a different skillset; maybe a softer skillset. I think that is the profile we see in Thiago, that he has great managerial skills to bring the club to the next level, but also he has a different type of management style that can be different and new and fresh and that after three years he’s probably what the organisation needs as well.
Will it be the Brazilian that leads the upcoming transfer window?
He’s going to be here on the 30th of June I think that’s his last day at Bragantino. He arrives here on the 1st of July, the international transfer window opens a little bit after. He will lead, he’s been very fortunate because he’s had natural exposure to the Western Europe market with RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg, and has always had a phenomenal relationship… he spends time in both countries and clubs, so he knows Western Europe, he knows the style, he knows the necessities. He also has an unbelievable network in South America, so he will be leading the transfer window and once again a little bit like my role in Red Bull. Now, I’m here to support, I’m here to advise.
When will the moment come for you to leave the club, and who decides that?
That’s a very good question, to be honest! We haven’t defined a time. And you know that’s maybe as complicated for me as it is for AS Monaco, but we wanted continuity. You know I can’t come in, as I did three years ago, and say we need stability, continuity, consistency and be the volatile element. I said to the President that I’m here for as long as they need me, to make sure we keep consistency and continuity. To make sure we stay on the right track. Then it’s probably a conversation between me and the President. [The decision on when to leave is] both of ours.
Of course, there is a lot of interest in who the new manager will be. Red Bull managers such as Jesse Marsch have been linked with the role. Is there any truth in this?
The idea is to get the best coach possible for this organisation to again push ourselves back up to where we think we deserve to be and then that’s, as you know, in the top three, challenging the top clubs and I think they’ll take their time.
I’ve seen and read the articles and I think that it’s clever from multiple sides to link my history and Thiago’s history and link us to Red Bull coaches only. It won’t be like that. We’ll always look long and far across every market including this one and try to make the best selection. I’ve seen Thiago do that, he’s worked with multiple coaches that have not all been Brazilian. It’s an organisation that hires across four different markets in Europe and South America and I know he and the boss want to have success next year. They want to push us back up to where we all believe we can be so it will definitely be the best man for the job, not just a ‘relationship hire.’
And are you close to an appointment?
We’re working hard. Everybody is. The President, myself, we’re keeping Thiago updated, and all the staff as well. There won’t be many holidays this year. He and Thiago will take us into the new chapter.
Naturally, in collaboration with Thiago, you’ll be looking to strengthen the team. Given Malang Sarr’s return to Chelsea and Axel Disasi’s links to a move, will you be looking specifically at the defence?
I think we have to focus on some defensive options. In terms of senior players, we have Axel (Disasi), people are telling me there are some clubs interested in him, and there is Guillermo (Maripán) so yes, we will be looking at the defensive side because we conceded too many goals.
We want to strengthen the team, we want to be better. We know we have a really great talent pool to go into the next season and be competitive. As I said, this owner is super ambitious, it will be Thiago’s first season, so no doubt he’ll want to be super ambitious as well, I think the players that will be here on 1st September will have a clear goal in mind to get back to where we belong on the podium.
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Photo source: AS Monaco