Charlton’s mystery scout Thomas Driesen has broken his silence – with the South London Press landing his first interview.
The Belgian, who would not confirm his age, hit out about “lies” after his connection to the club was revealed.
And Driesen also:
* confirmed that he is still heavily involved with the Addicks
*hit back at comments made by former Charlton bosses Chris Powell and Guy Luzon
*revealed how he first came to work for under-fire Addicks owner Roland Duchatelet
Driesen has been named as the pivotal scout in Duchatelet’s cluster of clubs with one Belgian magazine saying that enquiries about him are met “with a wall of silence”.
But he has spoken out now, responding to claims by Powell and Luzon that they did not have the final say on transfers.
“I don’t blame them, they are humans,” Driesen responded. “Of course they try to defend themselves when things have not worked out for them.
“We only gave him [Powell] tons of information. Yeah, he can say I’ve got e-mails with players in certain systems and things like that, but that was only to help him getting to know the players and use them best if he wanted to use them.
“Not ever – not even once – did anybody say anything that he had to use a certain player or had to play a certain system. That’s just crazy. If you were a manager getting five or six new players that you never heard about, you want as much information as possible – no?
“Because he got so many players from the network to strengthen the team we just tried to give him as much information as possible about each player.
“Like what his best qualities are, what his best position is and in which formation the specific player would play his best football. It all happened in a very open-minded conversation – not saying “you should put that player in that formation”. Just helping him because he did not have the time to analyse all those players.”
A section of Charlton fans have expressed concerns that a young man with no apparent experience in the game had been tasked with advising the club on players.
“I understand their worries,” he explained. “When I started to work for Standard Liege it was all about learning. Learning from the more experienced scouts, learning from the technical director, learning from the coaches. I learned a lot in a short period of time – because I am a football freak.
“I contacted [Duchatelet] to talk about football and talk about tactics. And then when we were in contact I gave him reports on players that were in the press and who were linked to Standard. So he asked me if I could do more and more and more, until it became a full-time thing.
“This isn’t about me. I don’t care what people say about me, I’m just trying to explain some of the lies circulating in the press. Like interference with team selection or that there is one person [me] having final say on transfers. Where does that even come from?”
Driesen said there were players he had recommended to the club this season and players he had be asked to analyse by chief scout Steve Head and boss Russell Slade.
“[I’m still involved to] the same degree as it has always been,” he said. “I give my opinion about players – but it’s the manager who decides. Only one time we gave a coach a player he did not really want. The player did not play and was unhappy, the manager was not happy, the scouts were not happy. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone.
“I see all the games on live stream. For live games I think I’ve watched seven games. The only away game was at Millwall, the other ones were at The Valley.”
Driesen would not comment on reports that he had try to advise manager Slade not to sign Andrew Crofts during the summer and was overruled by the 55-year-old.
He said: “I send my reports to Katrien Meire and Steve Head – they discuss it with Russell. He has done a good job with player recruitment this year, so I am happy.
“There was one [player that Slade turned down], but that’s no problem of course, he is the manager.
“Katrien and Roland have been getting wrong advice from people who gave them very good advice in the past, that’s the biggest problem we had. Everybody wants to blame the bad performances and bad players on them, but it’s not they who decided, they only followed the advice from other people.
“And it’s changed now, those people are not consulted anymore. We have an experienced chief scout with Steve and an experienced manager with Russell.
“Some things I read, like entire families who have been going to The Valley on Saturdays for 20-plus years and now don’t come any more, that’s what I think is sad. Fathers and sons who came every game together and now stay home. It’s because people say wrong things in the media – and its no surprise it’s people who have been sacked.”
“Everyone has made mistakes, people make mistakes, but now everything changed, the recruitment changed, the manager changed. I just hope those people come back and enjoy their Saturdays again and push us for promotion
“That’s why it sucks to read things online like Roland is doing a thing like Moneyball, and a young scout from Belgium with stupid hair is doing that and choosing players in that way.
“It’s all b******t, everything was just like in any other club with the manager deciding which players he wanted for his team and his style of play.
“I read people saying they will not come to The Valley because of this ‘experiment’ Roland is doing with the club. He is not doing any experiment, everything is just like in any other club.”