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From U18 to the Premier League - Mind the gap!

Discussion in 'Football Forum' started by andersj, Feb 15, 2018.

  1. Feb 15, 2018
    #1

    andersj Nick Powell Expert

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    One of the greatest obstacles for player development in UK today is the level of the reserve league. Foreign managers have complained about the competitiveness of the league for more than ten years, and few coaches are willing to recruit players directly from the reserve team to the senior squad. The purpose of the reserve team (U23) should be to prepare players for the Premier League. Most would agree that the the league is not suited for this purpose.

    The gap between the reserve and the Premier League is too big, and it does not give young players the experience they need to continue their development from the age of 17-18 to 21. And very few young talents will be ready for the Premier League at the age of 18. In fact, I would argue that very few are ready until they are 21.

    I think the lack of challenge, competitiveness and game time in the period from 18 to 21 has "killed" several talents, and it has definitley hurt english national team. The underage teams of England has done quite well on lower age levels the past ten years, but the senior team has been in decline.

    Consequently, it is surprising for a foreigner to observe that an obvious and important question appears to have been neglected the past 15 years:

    How will the FA ensure that english clubs are able to give young players the game time and experience they need from the age of 18 and until they are ready for the Premier League?


    There is no easy answer to the question, no quick fix or solution that will not cause stir. In my opinion, England will not be able to match Germany, Spain and France unless they are willing to give the league system an overhaul.

    1. An even bigger part of the TV-money should be spread to the Championship, League One and League Two,
    2. One should take steps to raise the level in the lower leagues and make clubs in lower leagues more attractive, and encourage young managers in lower league to play a football more suited to develop young players (just look at the amount of aerials currently),
    3. The amount of games needs to be reduced,
    4. A B/reserve-team should be allowed in the League One, (this is probably as likely as UK adapting to the metric system and start driving on the correct side of the road)

    I recently read an interview with Jurgen Klopp where he said he did not believe in loaning out players. Say what you like about Klopp, but he has been a part of a very successfull development team (Dortmund, not Liverpool, obviously). And I can see where he is coming from.

    I'm quite confident that Man Utd, Man City and even Liverpool are better suited to developing their young players than most teams in the lower leagues. Not only because of their superior resources. But because these clubs know their talents better. They know who they are, how they want them to develop and what football they should develop for (well, they should anyway, lets forget about the van Gaal to Mourinho move). I also believe that young players benefit from growing in a structure and a system, not to mention consistency.

    Take Jessie Lingard as an example. He barely played competetive football between 18 and 20. He was given four loans with various success between 2012 and 2015. In this period he played approx 3 000 minutes of football. Consequently, Jessie played approx 3 000 minutes of football fra the age of 18 to 22/23. As a result of the injury he had in 2015, the lack of game time in his young carrier is shocking.

    I'm aware that he was a late developer, and I am aware of the prophecy from our football God. But I still believe that Lingard today suffer from lack of experience. Is not that inevitable? He is a good player, but he could have been a lot better. I saw some of the games in the Championship, and few played to his strengths and few played him through the middle where he obviously belongs. Considering how highly rated he was, I'm sure that Jessie would play in a position and part of a football more suited to his style if Man Utd had a B-team playing in a competetive league.

    Consider the 10 000-hour rule by Malcolm Gladwell. In football this is not just about hours training, a player will obviously not get 10 000-hours of football at senior level at a young age. But the more minutes you get, the more able you will be at making the correct decisions in a split second. And at the end of the day, football is about making the correct decisions. (Most of the talents at Man Utd and Man City has the technique and physique to make it).

    Furthermore, some of these overpaid youngsters ego could benefit from meeting grown men on the pitch on a regulary basis. Maybe it will teach them to keep their head down and work hard?

    Jessie Lingard is just one example. (I also think that players like Tuanzebe and Mitchell have been give far too little game time considering their abilities, and that we wasted a year for a player like Mensah last season.) Today young players and their advicers appear to be realize that the UK-modell is not well suited to secure their development, and some of the best young talents move abroad. Man City try to solve the problem by buying teams abroad.

    If FA fails to create and environment well suited to the development of young players, how do Man Utd cope?

    Since the FA probably is really, really busy, with something very, very important, I would assume that they will fail to do anything about the current situation.

    There do not appear to be a plan or a clear path from the U18 to the senior team in Man Utd at the moment. I'm a big fan of some of our youngsters. In my opinion, O'Connor, Greenwood and Chong have the talent to play for Man Utd in the future. But I struggle to see how we will prepare them for senior football. Will we play them in the reserves for a couple of years (in a football quite different from the U18), and then ship them to Scottland for a year?

    We need to establish some sort of structure. Maybe we could form some sort of alliance with a local team? If we managed to help a local team up to League One we could form some sort of partnership/agreement ment to enure the development of young players. (How about Salford City?)
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  2. Feb 15, 2018
    #2

    SCP Full Member

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    At the level the current top 6 Premier League teams have it is almost impossible to a player who comes from the under 23's to take a place on the first 11.

    Or they are gradually introduced to the squad, training with the 1'st team, and getting some minutes, or the best ones have to be loaned to smaller clubs, the other alternative would be B teams who could play in the Championship, but the other clubs would be against it.

    Reality is even if the number of english players is relativelly small, the ones who play are used to a higher level of competition, not everything is dark.
  3. Feb 15, 2018
    #3

    Classical Mechanic Full Member

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    I don’t see United doing business with Neville and co, especially after their slam dunk business success right on United’s doorstep.

    Salford are too far down the divisions too.
  4. Feb 15, 2018
    #4

    limerickcitykid There once was a kid from Toronto...

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    B teams will never be added in England unfortunately. Our only option for me is to buy a club in Europe and use it as a B team. There were reports of us looking into that about 2 years ago but I've never seen it mentioned again so unfortunately doesn't seem like it came to fruition either.
  5. Feb 15, 2018
    #5

    Mr. MUJAC Talent spotter

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    The FA have changed the 'Reserve' league about 6 times in ten years...clearly they don't have a clue otherwise they wouldn't keep changing it.

    I'd go back to playing in an open league like the Manchester League against grown men.

    A season in that league will teach them lot's...even if they walk it.
  6. Feb 15, 2018
    #6

    Keeps It tidy Hates Messi

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    I have no idea how to implement B teams in the league system without destroying the lower leagues.
  7. Feb 15, 2018
    #7

    breakout67 Full Member

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    B teams would be nice; but I'm assuming the FA don't allow B teams or we would have one already.
  8. Feb 16, 2018
    #8

    Sassy Colin Death or the gladioli!

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    FA in not having a clue shocker!
  9. Feb 16, 2018
    #9

    RooneyLegend Full Member

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    Don't know why the loan system is so under used. There really is a league that suits every type of player. Clubs in leagues like La Liga are poor and are more than happy to have elite talents in their sides as they continue to fight for survival. If a player isn't ready for that level but is technically gifted, send him out to the dutch league. The one's who are more physical can go to the championship or lower level prem side. It's all about sending the player to the right team at the right level.

    What is for sure is sending a player out on loan and him getting quality minutes at high level is far better than whatever coaching that there is to be done at the said club. Reason? They have to learn and apply what they're learning on the grand stage. Them learning and learning without every applying it is pointless. It also helps the clubs to take stock of what they really have on their hands and see just how applicable the said players talents are to the top leagues.
  10. Feb 16, 2018
    #10

    alpagr Banned

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    The Manchester league is on its knees as is amateur football all over the uk,ruined by ex refs and officials ,but not the only reason so the idea of throwing in a pro club at this level in 2018 is way off the mark .The only solution to this is scrap all the nonsense which the FA and the clubs have messed up over the years,get back to reserve team football otherwise known around here as the Central League.
    Not only for the developments of younger players but also and I think just as important the match fitness of squads.
    It is unbelievable to think Utd I.e have a squad of ? And most of them get minimal game time,not only is it unhealthy for the players it is waste of money.
    It would benefit players such as Shaw,Darmian say a returning Ibra ,Bailly,Fellani then field the youngsters alongside .
    No brainier.
  11. Feb 16, 2018
    #11

    limerickcitykid There once was a kid from Toronto...

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    What is the difference between the "reserve Central League" and the u23s league?

    They already change the name of the league every couple years and it doesn't make an ounce of difference. So how do you change it back to the reserves? You can already field 3 overage players which we're deciding not to do. Is changing the name to reserves going to make us choose to field them?
  12. Feb 16, 2018
    #12

    Mr. MUJAC Talent spotter

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    It was an example. Pick a stronger league. It's the concept I'm referring to.

    First team managers just won't play their fringe squad players in the reserves any more. So going back to United v Liverpool in an old Central League system will just result in what we have today.

    If United thought it would work then would be having conversations with other clubs prior to matches and talking about strengthened line-ups. Except they don't...only weakened like-ups.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
  13. Feb 16, 2018
    #13

    alpagr Banned

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    Well there is a difference straight away 'you can only field 3 over aged players' how stupid / restricting is that?
  14. Feb 16, 2018
    #14

    Pogue Mahone Poster of the year 2008

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    Why is that, do you think? For me that's a huge problem when it comes to developing our best young players. Playing with/against PL fringe squad players is the best way to prepare them for actual PL football. Obviously, the other huge problem is the lack of fixtures. I might be imagining it but I'm sure that our reserves used to play more regularly and in matches which were much more likely to feature PL first-team squad members. Can't for the life of me work out in whose interest it would have been to change that.
  15. Feb 16, 2018
    #15

    Zlatattack Full Member

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    I think 10% of the premier league winning money should be taken and put as a prize for winning the under-23 league. That'd soon make it competitive.
  16. Feb 16, 2018
    #16

    limerickcitykid There once was a kid from Toronto...

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    So the issue is they can only field 30% of the team over 23? So they decide to then field none? So allowing as many over 23 as they want will make them field first team players? That makes no sense at all. They are allowed to field players over 23 currently, they currently choose not to do that. Telling them they can field even more players over 23 will not change anything when they aren't fielding the 3 in the first place.

    Mourinho doesn't even let the likes of TFM and Axel play for the u23s. Letting us field any age player isn't going to change his opinion on that.
  17. Feb 16, 2018
    #17

    noodlehair "It's like..."

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    I don't think it's as big of a problem as it's made out. Players who are good enough get given the chance, and make the step up. Players who aren't, or who don't have the right focus for it, don't. In terms of the opportunities being there I don't think that's where the issue lies.

    The issue in England seems to be more with the coaching of young players in the first instance. Even now when we seem to be getting significantly better at it, you look at the younger age level England sides, and they're dominated by big physical types, who might also be skilful and might have been trained to develop those skills, but are still primarily in the team because they can out run and out muscle other players their age.

    Problem is you get them so used to doing that, you then throw them in at a senior level where they can't do that, and they haven't really been able to learn what to do instead. While other countries have players coming through who are no longer outmatched physically, and have had to learn how to play football against opponents regardless of how big or strong they are. So when they do develop physically it's a natural curve and only improves them.

    I always think Ronaldo and Rooney are good example of this. Rooney relied on his physical presence from a young age, and it ended up being less and less of a factor. Ronaldo relied on his ability, and then at a later age when he did develop physically, added that to his game as an additional strength.
  18. Feb 16, 2018
    #18

    sincher "I will cry if Rooney leaves"

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    I don't think that is a fair characterisation of the current junior England teams at all.
  19. Feb 16, 2018
    #19

    limerickcitykid There once was a kid from Toronto...

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    Yea, that's pretty much just not true at all. It's the same line brought out all the time from people who generally know absolutely nothing about youth football.
  20. Feb 16, 2018
    #20

    Mr. MUJAC Talent spotter

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    I think the difference is there will always be a handful of exceptional players where playing in the reserves makes no difference at all.

    However, 90% of others needs the rigour, physicality and competitiveness of a strong reserve league but aren't getting it.

    It is no surprise that the number of loans has increased exponentially since the Central League was dropped. It is absolutely no co-incidence at all.

    When we had a competitive Reserve league you didn't need players to to go out on loan.

    Now loans are so hit and miss they are waste of time for most players.

    So therefore there is a massive jump between the second string and the first team.

    The elite will never have to worry...but in our history we have been successful because of the Darren Fletcher's, John O'Shea's, Mike Duxbury's, Brian Greenhoff's, Nobby Stiles, Jesse Lingard's, Arthur Albiston's, Gary Neville's, David Beckham's...and even Bobby Charlton who spent two years or so in the reserves getting invaluable experience.

    The likes of Edwards, Whiteside, Giggs, Sadler, Rashford and a handful of others are exceptions.
  21. Feb 16, 2018
    #21

    Mr. MUJAC Talent spotter

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    Simple. Apart from basic match fitness (60 minutes) what value will it bring? Injury to an established first team regular?

    There's just no balance any more at all.
  22. Feb 16, 2018
    #22

    Pogue Mahone Poster of the year 2008

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    Well basic match fitness is is no bad thing. And the other value would be for the younger players, learning from playing alongside them. Tbf I'm sure they get similar opportunities in training but I'd imagine they get much more valuable experience from a proper competitive match.
  23. Feb 16, 2018
    #23

    Mr. MUJAC Talent spotter

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    You're arguing with the wrong person...I agree with you.

    But the managers (Fergie included) stopped playing fringe squad players in the reserves years ago.

    So now it is common practice.

    The Reserves is just a glorified Academy +1...the kids are still playing against the same players as they did when they entered the Academy ten years previously.
  24. Feb 16, 2018
    #24

    andersj Nick Powell Expert

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    You are probably right. The result will be that the other European nations continue to have a system better suited to player development than England. That there will be no platform in England suited for preparing young players for the Premier League. I do not think one can stress enough how important the period from 18 to 21 are for most young players.

    England probably have the most promising group of talents below U18 in Europe at the moment. But I am certain - I guarantee it - that the same group will not be the most promising U21-group in Europe in three years time.

    The Premier League should give England an advantage. It provides resources and some of the best brains in football. Unfortunatly one do not appear to be able to use this advantage because of the fear of change.

    Unless the FA manage to find a solution that at the moment do not exist any place in the world today.
  25. Feb 17, 2018
    #25

    Pogue Mahone Poster of the year 2008

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    About Hull’s FA cup game against Chelsea. Shows what a farce the loan system has become.
  26. Feb 17, 2018
    #26

    Pogue Mahone Poster of the year 2008

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    Do you think there’s anything that can be done to fix it? What would it take for managers to start using the reserve league as a means to keep fringe players sharp again?
  27. Feb 17, 2018
    #27

    Mr. MUJAC Talent spotter

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    I think its a Catch 22.

    It will be competitive when managers play good players and managers will use if it is competitive.
  28. Feb 17, 2018
    #28

    Prodigal7 Full Member

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    Best suggestion I've ever seen. Clubs set up to pursue the money like any other business and so a financial reward is the primary (and only) way of motivating clubs to take something seriously.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2018
  29. Feb 17, 2018
    #29

    jb8521 Full Member

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    If they won't allow clubs reserves to play in the lower league's then why not set up a reserve league with high prize money and incentives for lower league teams and allow lower league senior teams/Scottish/Welsh teams apply to play in it. It would at least allow the younger players to experience playing against experienced players rather than just playing against other teenagers that they've been playing against all of their lives.
  30. Feb 17, 2018
    #30

    Bale Bale Bale New Member

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    This is complete nonsense, have you actually watched any of these sides lately? It doesn't help when people peddle this outdated rhetoric.

    Phil Foden, George McEachran, Jadon Sancho, Rhian Brewster, Angel Gomes, Jay Dasilva, Tayo Edun, Mason Mount, Marcus Edwards, Kyle Walker-Peters, Lewis Cook, Ademola Lookman ... are just a few players who were key to England's success at various youth levels this year and none of them are anything like the description you've given for what is apparently a typical young English player.
  31. Feb 17, 2018
    #31

    noodlehair "It's like..."

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    Quite a few of them are actually, and the likes of Gomez were sat on the bench at the recent championships while more physical players were picked ahead of them. In the final England just bullied Spain out of the game with their superior athleticism.

    I'm not saying these aren't good young players were talking about, and it's definitely going in the right direction, but the old habits are still there.

    There's no much point reeling off games of young players as if this proves anything. None of them have made the step up yet. There's always a crop of promising young players you can point to.
  32. Feb 17, 2018
    #32

    andersj Nick Powell Expert

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    Furthermore, I would like to say that I know that I might come across as negative and arrogant. And please accept my apologise if I do.

    Youth football has been an interest for a while, and I enjoy reading updates from yoy guys in here and on twitter. However it is depressing that the talents we support appear to lack a proper platform when they reach 18.