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Henke Joins Villa as Head of Scouting


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Michael Henke - who was assistant manager to Ottmar Hitzfeld at Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich - has joined Villa as the club's new Head of European Scouting.

The experienced German will head up the club's European network in an overall structure that has been developed over the past two years.

Henke assumed responsibility for analysis and scouting at Bayern in 2008 when Hitzfeld was succeeded by Jurgen Klinsmann at the Bundesliga club and he is excited to be harnessing his vast experience in European football with a Barclays Premier club now managed by one of his former players, Paul Lambert.

"This is a similar role to one I held at Bayern when Klinsmann became manager and I am looking forward to working with the club and helping within the set-up already in place to identify players who will enhance the Villa team and the Villa squad," Henke said.

"Our objective will be to identify young players who have a good future and a good mentality. The Bundesliga, for example, has very good youth academies but our analysis of players will include other leagues, including the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, France, Spain and other countries. By definition, this is an extensive exercise.

"It is not only about good technique but it is also about the right character and what is required overall to be a successful player in the Premier League.

"It is not always about young, emerging talent either - also players with experience who will be motivated by the challenge and who we believe will bring the right qualities to Aston Villa and benefit the club.

"I visited the training ground at Bodymoor Heath several weeks ago and I'm very impressed by the set-up that is there - the academy, the facilities - all top-class.

"Of course, I also worked with Paul as a player at Borussia Dortmund and therefore I have known him for a long time.

"We share many of the same ideas about football. For instance, good organisation is paramount, as is an innate ethic which ensures that every player will work as hard as he can to achieve success.

"Paul has explained to me what type of qualities in particular that he will want most of all in the players we look at and clearly we will be looking at high quality in order to be able to compete well.

"I was able to be at the game in Werder Bremen on Saturday and I have been watching games already, including West Ham's recent games against Dresden and Cottbus with a view to looking at the opposition ahead of Villa's opening Premier League game on Saturday.

"I'm very much looking forward to working with Paul again and also with the club because Aston Villa is one of those old, traditional clubs in England. I can identify strongly with the club in terms of philosophy and commitment to quality and I very much hope to contribute to this."

Villa's domestic database of player analysis is overseen by Patrick Riley, with tools from Amisco being utilised for statistical background to enhance the club's knowledge in the recruitment process. Gareth Payne provides analysis of opposition players.

Henke's appointment and the arrival of players such as Karim El Ahmadi, Ron Vlaar and Brett Holman demonstrate the strong focus on the European market and new manager Lambert's determination to work with the club in enhancing key areas that will ensure long-term strength and development.

"It's great to have a man with Michael's experience and track record to come in to this role and I'm delighted that we've been able to bring him here," said Villa manager Paul Lambert.

"Michael has been successful with two great clubs in Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, working with Ottmar Hitzfeld and together bringing Champions League success and a succession of Bundesliga titles to both clubs.

"In the European game he has an unbelievable wealth of experience and an enviable network of contacts. It's a great thing for Aston Villa that we have been able to attract a man of his calibre to the club."


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That to me is a sign of ambition. It may not be an obvious one like signing Messi but it's a subtle one. Signing someone that Bayern Munich of all clubs entrusted is a sign of ambition that we want to go places. Granted some Villa fans would still prefer a marquee signing, but this may mean we never have to make another marquee signing as every player no matter their price will be top quality. I like this move.

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Was needed imo.

It is frustrating looking at what we were capable of spending once, and seeing how it was spent compared to how it could and should have been spent. The club is still a big club and with a bit of restoration this season it's still an attractive club for players joining the Premier League. An intelligent approach to scouting and recruitment was exactly what we needed, wouldn't be at all surprised to see us going for some young players for the future as early as January.

What this really hits home to me though is that the new era is about to begin, pre-season can pass you by sometimes (I know not so much this time as we've had a few ins and we've all been looking to see how we'd set up) but now days away and with a backroom addition which points to a much more up to date and clever way of managing a football club it just hits me that this could, and HOPEFULLY will, be the start of something special under Paul Lambert.

Let's be honest, we deserve a **** break because the last 2 years have been an absolute nightmare, and I defy many clubs to match the amount of turmoil, change around and downright shit injury luck we've had.

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