The master's playbook: Frank Arnesen's top tips for Technical Directors
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Best Practice
The master's playbook: Frank Arnesen's top tips for Technical Directors
by Jonathan Rest

Frank Arnesen has, in his own words, “done nearly everything in football” - player, youth team coach, first team assistant coach, head of scouting, head of academy, but it is as a technical director that the Dane has made his name.

Never be afraid to hire people that are more intelligent than you. It can only help the club, because first and foremost it is not about you, it is about the club.
Frank Arnesen
Technical Director, Feyenoord

Arnesen has done the job at PSV Eindhoven, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, HSV Hamburg, Metalist Kharkiv (albeit only for 25 days due to the breakout of war in Ukraine), PAOK Thessaloniki, Anderlecht and now Feyenoord, where he has been in place since January 2020.

 

Here, Arnesen exclusively shares his insights with TransferRoom on how to succeed as a Technical Director:

 

  • The Six Year Education

 

“I became technical director at PSV in 1994 and to be honest knew nothing about the job. I came from an assistant coach role at PSV and straight into this role, and it took me many years to really learn what it was to be a manager.  

 

“My president, Willem Maeyer, who was a senior manager within the Philipps Corporation, told me ‘Frank, it will take you six to eight years to actually know everything’. I told him that I didn't believe it. But he is still my friend, and we talk about how he was right. It really takes you at least six years because then you have experienced all situations.

 

“One of the things you always have to deal with in this job is public opinion. You have the fans and the press, and you cannot compare that to a big job at a company where you only have meetings twice a year with the shareholders.

 

“Here it is every day, and you have to learn how to deal with it and be clever about it. That experience is very important.”

 

  • Football Brain

 

“It sounds obvious, but you have to have knowledge about football. You have to be passionate, but that is of course normal in all jobs. But you need to know everything about the game and the people in it. You have to be an example to the people around you.”

 

  • Surround yourself with talented people

“I have always looked for people who knew more than me, especially in areas where I was not so strong. I think this is one of the key things: never be afraid to hire people that are more intelligent than you. It can only help the club, because first and foremost it is not about you, it is about the club.”

 

  • Hand over responsibility

 

“I am very much a man manager. I give a lot of responsibility, and I speak a lot with my team and I am also not afraid to share important things with them. That, to me, is very important. They feel they are part of the project, and you get to see people grow around you. If you give people responsibility, they will want to work their socks off for the club.

 

  • Best deal

 

Dutch internationals Jaap Stam, Arjen Robben and Ruud Van Nistelrooy all passed through PSV during Arnesen’s tenure and made big money moves to England’s Premier League, but it was a 17-year-old Brazilian that stands out.

 

“I’ve never been afraid to take risks, and we did that at PSV with Ronaldo. We bought him in 1994 for $5m, but we knew he was in the squad of the Brazilian national team for the World Cup, and he was only 17 years old. 

 

“The club recognised we could get more money out of the deal, but where do you get $5m from at a smaller club in 1994? It was a lot of money then. We took the risk and two years later [after 54 goals in 57 appearances], Ronaldo was sold for a world record $20m to Barcelona.”

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