A possible world record Guest Blog debut from Rhys Jaggar, making just his second contribution!
Academies are strange things.
The strange thing about them is that they are more ‘productive’ usually at less good clubs.
Why? The best careers see regular first team football as a teenager and top clubs have a huge bar to get 17/18 year olds to start regularly. Barcelona rejects included Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique, who had to make do with Arsenal and Man Utd before returning in their mid 20s.
During Arsene Wenger’s 22 year reign, only Ashley Cole and Jack Wilshere made it through. Hoyte was given a chance but failed. Most others played a few League Cup games or never graced the field. They mostly ended up in lower league football.
The ‘admired set ups’ usually emerge due to clubs with no cash. Southampton in League One blooded Bale, Walcott, AOC and others because they had no cash to buy anyone. And Levy to squeeze their balls about sell on clauses. Everton were always skint and selling blooded players: Rooney and Barkley for big money among them.
Everton actually used the Rooney money to finish 4th the next year. Manchester United did it with Fergie so they could upgrade the stadium, they are now becoming a Hollywood Club.
There is a lot of guano talked about players being spoiled by starting at lower levels. What is spoilt by never playing first team football is the competitive fire, doused by the thought of the sack if you repeatedly kicked the managers door down in frustration at never getting picked. Harry Kane did umpteen loans at pseudo guano clubs before finally breaking through. He was playing football matches….
It is the height of delusion to believe an Academy will produce two players a season ready for Champions League at eighteen. They might if they signed 10 of the world’s best sixteen year olds every year, which nowadays means many, many mill a pop for unproven talent. Unlikely to do it from local north London boys.
If you want lots of academy boys playing, sell the current squad to wipe out all the stadium debt, put eight academy boys into the first team squad and find just enough quality to remain in EPL for two years whilst they mature.
Cut the stadium ticket prices in half, emulate Dortmund and aim to win EPL around the middle of the next decade.
Or do you prefer Hollywood?