Former Southampton manager joins SFA - Scottish - Football - The Independent

Former Southampton manager joins SFA

Mark Wotte made qualification for the next World Cup a key target after being appointed as the Scottish Football Association's first performance director.

The 50-year-old Dutchman will be in charge of overseeing elite player development at every level, helping to ensure the nation's top talent can flourish and progress into the national team.

Wotte, who is best known in Britain for a brief spell with Southampton a couple of years ago but also has extensive coaching experience in his native Holland, warned against expecting immediate results from his appointment to the newly-created post.

But he highlighted Brazil 2014 as a useful barometer of what progress the set-up is making.

He said: "I think 2014 will be a massive point to see whether we achieve something, but in football you can do a very good job and not qualify.

"It all depends on other circumstances.

"In football, one and one is not always two. So you can do a lot of improvements in the football pyramid, but at the end of the day qualification for Brazil 2014 would be fantastic.

"Maybe to play a World Cup final is not something to be achieved in one or two years, but you have to start and maybe in three, five, seven, eight...

"In Holland in 2001, we didn't qualify for a World Cup, but then nine years later, we played a World Cup final. Something in between happened.

"I think there is always talent everywhere in the world.

"But you have to identify this talent and you have to work with this talent and get them in an environment that is healthy for these young boys to grow as a player without thinking of anything else.

"I think this is going to be a long-term job. Every time people talk about youth development, they want to see results tomorrow. This is not possible."

Wotte left a job in Egypt as coach of top-flight club Ismaily to take up the post with the SFA.

His appointment was the culmination of extensive research from the body after the role was a key recommendation in Henry McLeish's review of Scottish football.

Among Wotte's credentials are a spell as technical director of Feyenoord and a stint in charge of the Holland Under-21s, and he will attempt to bring some aspects of the Dutch system into the Scottish game.

He said: "In Holland we know everything about football players from eight, nine, 10 years old.

"Even on the national level - under 13, under 14 - everything is monitored. We know about under-13 football very well.

"We have elite training sessions in Holland starting from the age of 12 to bring the best against the best.

"I was told this is not the case in Scotland so this is one of the issues it's my responsibility to put this in place."

But he added: "We need to implement this in the Scottish way. You can't take the blueprint out of Holland and put it in Scotland.

"We (Holland) are also a small country. We are number two on the FIFA ranking list, but with similar infrastructure, but maybe more knowledge about how to develop world-class players.

"Everything I know from my country I will try to bring it to Scotland."

Scotland boss Craig Levein is excited about the opportunity to develop better youth systems in the country.

He said: "Mark's job is to bring players through so eventually those players will be playing in the national team.

"So there has to be a link between myself and Mark at that point. I'll do everything I can to help him.

"Its about elite development. The players that play in the national team are the elite players in the country.

"Mark's job will be to develop players to play in the national team. So we will have to communicate about who is ready to step into the national team.

"We don't have anywhere near the amount of scouts required in the younger age group to discover who are the best talent in Scotland under 12.

"So these things are things that have to be developed to put a strategy in place."

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan was keen to express the importance of Wotte's appointment to the future of the game in Scotland.

He said: "This is the key appointment that could turn around Scottish football. We are building for the future.

"The appointment of a performance director was the single most important recommendation in the Henry McLeish review of Scottish football.

"The remit is to take Scottish football from good to great once again."

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