Young talent suffocated by measures made to help them…

Ian Watson

What better way to start your weekend than sending us an email?


Unintended consequences
Quotas sound like a great idea, if it wasn’t for the fact that development of talent involves more than a mandated space on a PL Squad. It actually involves them needing to be played. By placing a premium on English trained players, the PL put an inflated price tag on those players, the supply of top quality English trained players is small and the clubs vying for them are trying t remain competitive with each other. The unintended consequence of this is that big PL clubs try to hoover up as many young players, as early as they can in order to be able to qualify them as English trained. Think Cesc Fabregas moving at 15 and qualifying amongst the home grown quota despite being Spanish (alternatively Eric Dier not being homegrown).

Chelsea have been a shining example of how to mess talent up for years, all in the name of meeting quotas and trying to do so in a cost effective way. But it’s hard to blame them when it costs so much to even look at an English trained player, especially when you look at their foreign counterparts costing significantly less (N’Golo Kante v Paul Pogba. Biased I know, but I’d take Kante in a heartbeat over Pogba). How many players have moved to clubs where they haven’t been able to get near the first team despite clearly being ready for some game time somewhere (RLC, Lukaku, KdB). How about those starlets who have never seen the light of day through their game time being suffocated (McEachran, Kakuta++++++++)

The cream should rise to the top. But you need to let it settle. We need to remove the quota, let players play football, at the level they are able to play at at the age they are ready to do it at. It will also have the effect that those that meet the standard will be bought by big clubs, feeding cash down the pyramid. Unlike now where a decent looking player will be bought in under 16 years old by the promise of a house for his parents and a job as a scout for his dad in the vain hope that he somehow magically learns to play football like a first-teamer without actually being given that chance, all while depriving the lower leagues of both cash and the services of these players.
Aston Taylor (CFC) I know I’m bashing Chelsea but I don’t blame them, I blame the system.

Good Drog
My abiding memory of Didier Drogba, might be a little different to most.

It was in a reserve game against Arsenal’s very youthful 2nd team – I wasn’t there, I watched it on TV, as this was back when there was such a thing as Arsenal TV.

He was obviously gaining minutes while recovering from an injury and what struck me was how he conducted himself in that game.

He was an absolute gentleman.

He congratulated Arsenal players on good passages of play, shook Szczesny’s (I think, but it could have been Fabianksi) hand after a particularly good 1-on-1 save, small things that really made an impression.

He urged on and encouraged not only the young Chelsea players but the young Arsenal players too.

It was clear that he took his role of elder statesman / mentor very seriously and it just illustrated to me the difference in people’s behaviour when the pressure to win at all costs isn’t there.

Sadly, my memory of the game itself is hazy at best – but Drogba’s attitude and behaviour on the night was a great example of the right attitude to reserve / youth football.
Doug, AFC, Belfast (in my mind he didn’t score that night – someone must remember it )


Turning the air blue
I sit in the Matthew Harding Lower at Stamford Bridge and the swearing is pretty bad there these days. But does anyone remember when we had Frank Leboeuf playing for us and he asked the fans not to swear when when chanting his name because it was hard to explain to his kids? We ended up singing “He’s here. He’s there. We’re not allowed to swear. Frank Leboeuf! Frank Leboeuf!” He was really chuffed apparently.
Polite Jules, CFC


Football fans are alright
Following on from Al from the Wirral’s email, two similar moments this season, both in the West Midlands, both in response to more tragic events, stand out.

WBA vs Reading – minutes applause for Thomas Jones turns into “there’s only one Thomas Jones” from both sets of fans.

Birmingham City vs Reading – 22 minutes in, and after a moment of applause, the whole home end of the stadium burst into Keep Right On. About as loud as I’ve heard at a Championship ground, felt like the entire home crowd was singing.

When we’re not being dicks to each other, football fans can be alright.
Rob, Reading fan in Brum.


England abroad
The recent article on a multicultural England was enjoyable. In the entire squad only 2 players had played abroad, Dier and Sancho. Not much more multicultural than when Hargreaves was there?
Edward Canhands (Do holidays abroad count now)


Anyone but Sam
I see Fat Sam has put his hat in the ring for the vacant Ireland national team manager’s job.

Haven’t we suffered enough?
DC (Pint of Baileys anyone?), BAC


Friday thoughts
Firstly – Man City.
There have been a few murmurings recently that Pep isn’t all that good and anyone else would be able to win the league with his team of expensively acquired individuals.
I’m not sure that is the case, although it’d definitely be easier to win with that team than most others in the league. My point is that although Pep inherited a decent team he has a very good eye for what he wants and gets the right players that will suit his style (even if he has to pay slightly more for them). I don’t see Pep buying random players just because they’re available but rather identifying someone that will add to the team and paying the right money for them. His pursuit of Jorginho is an example, he saw the qualities he’d bring and went after him. When the transfer fell through he didn’t go and buy the next best thing, he opted out of a panic buy. Ok, that is a little easier when you already have a great team, but most of the other clubs have a more shotgun approach at transfers and then they complain when their transfers don’t work (cough-Jose-cough).
A player like Bernado Silva for example – what an exceptional player! City paid a lot of money for someone I hadn’t heard of but Pep’s eye for talent has proven itself yet again.
Pep doesn’t buy the best players, he buys the best players for his team, there’s a difference.

Secondly – Marquee signings.
There is the obvious perception that the marquee signing needs to hit the ground running and score 40 goals for the team but I believe they have more value than that. Other than the marketing value from signing a big name player, there is a definite value that that signing has on the rest of the team. If Chelsea had signed Ronaldo, for example, I’m pretty sure Hazard wouldn’t still be considering Real Madrid. Top players want to play with top players. Even flops like Shevchenko – the chance to play with and learn from a legend of the game is something a lot of players would love. I say to Chelsea (and any club wanting to keep their talent), you can’t afford to pay your players 500k a week like Real or Barca, but spend that money on a marquee signing or even an older legend of the game and that might just satisfy their ambitions.
These players also have an effect on the fan base. One of the reasons I started supporting Chelsea was becasue I enjoyed seeing old legends of the game like Gullit, Vialli and Weah plying their trade in the league.
Ed (just some musings of an incoherent mind…)