Williams joins from Man United as 'head of recruitment'

General view of the ground before the Sky Bet Championship match at Portman Road, Ipswich. PRESS ASS

Ipswich Town have appointed Sam Williams, from Manchester United, as the club's new 'head of recruitment'. - Credit: Steven Paston/PA Wire

Ipswich Town have appointed Manchester United's Sam Williams as the club's new 'head of recruitment'.

Williams has been 'first team recruitment analyst' at Old Trafford for the last three years and helped ex-boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer identify signings across six transfer windows.  

It's understood that Blues chief executive Mark Ashton made the hire after speaking to his former head of recruitment at Oxford United, Mick Court, who is the current 'technical chief scout' at Manchester United.

Further recommendations came from Town management duo Kieran McKenna and Martyn Pert, who also worked alongside Williams in Manchester.

Having initially graduated with a degree in 'Management and Leisure' back in 2009, Williams went on to complete a masters in 'Performance Analysis in Sport' Salford University.

Following academy scout roles at Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton, he initially joined Manchester United as a 'Performance Analyst' in November 2017 before promotion to the first team set-up came in December 2018. 

Williams will work alongside Andy Rolls (director of performance), Gary Probert (director of football operations), Luke Werhun (chief operating officer), Alex Hood (first team recruitment analyst), Scott Mitchell (head of academy recruitment), Charlie Turnbull (head of analysis) and Will Stephenson (head of performance analysis) as the Blues make plans for the 2022 summer transfer window and beyond. 

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Speaking back in September last year, after Town had signed 19 players in the last summer transfer window, Ashton outlined his plans to revamp the club's recruitment team.

He said: "We have no objective or subjective recruitment department.  

“Right now, every agent, every player, every club has to come through either myself, Luke Werhun, Paul Cook or his team.   

“That’s fine. We are where we are right now. We’ll build the aeroplane while we’re in flight.

"I can see, by Christmas, us having four or five people in that recruitment department who are both data driven and scouting driven."

He added: “Talent identification and player recruitment are two of the most important areas of the football club.

“We can have the biggest and best commercial deals, we can make Portman Road immaculate, but if we sign the wrong players it all becomes under par.   

“The guys who are working with me are getting used to how I work. I'm systematic. I like to be considered in my judgements and I like us to work professionally.  

“That means, from a recruitment perspective, having real experts in that field to help us plan one, two, three transfer windows ahead."

Ashton then spoke further about recruitment when the recent January transfer window shut.

He said: “It’s a collective, collaborative approach.

“We all work together. Andy Rolls works in it from a performance perspective because there’s no good us recruiting a technical and tactical player that can’t physically do what Kieran wants them to do. 

“Gary Probert pulls it all together. That’s part of his key role. It’s his job to make sure the pathway is in place from the 18s to the 23s and into the first team.

“And we’re in the process of recruiting at least two people into the recruitment department who will be specialists in that area.

“It’s such a key area that we don’t want to rush and get that wrong. Myself, Kieran, Luke Werhun, Gary Probert and Martyn Pert, who has been a superstar in this, have come together and really started to design what we want that department to look like. 

“To be clear, the manager has absolutely final sign off. It’s in his contract, as it’s in every manager’s contract who works for me, that no player comes into the first team without the manager signing off on it."

McKenna, reflecting on the January business, added: “I think what we have done is leave ourselves in a really good position for the summer now. We didn’t make any rash decisions, we tried to be very methodical in not only preparing as well as we can for the rest of the season but also leaving ourselves in a good position for the next window when we know there’s going to be good backing from the club again.

“Recruitment is such a big area where we can make immediate gains. Coaching and development is massive, but transfer windows are a massive opportunity to fast forward that process if we can bring in the right profile of players who can slot into how we play. That can improve us very quickly if we manage to make the right decisions. 

“It’s something I’m looking forward to. At the moment the priority is the games and getting as many points as we can, but I’m looking forward to that process in the summer, whatever position we’re in, to be able to build the squad as I want it going into pre-season."