Football : The Youth Academies of England Assessed
They say that England’s talent is dying down, they say that not enough quality is being produced, well, here’s my thoughts and my study deep into this. When competing with the likes of Barcelona, the Premier League teams don’t seem to have a chance in terms of creating local talent as good as them. After [...]
They say that England’s talent is dying down, they say that not enough quality is being produced, well, here’s my thoughts and my study deep into this.
When competing with the likes of Barcelona, the Premier League teams don’t seem to have a chance in terms of creating local talent as good as them. After all, who can beat their midfield trio of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets, all becoming phenomenons at the Nou Camp.
And the fact is there are many others, Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique (left and then returned) and there is even Cesc Fabregas and their up and coming young midfielder in Thiago Alcantara. So how does the Premier League stack up?
I personally think that England having to resort to Peter Crouch for International games on some occasions is testament to the general failure to bring youths forward in the game. Although his track record ain’t that bad, let’s face the facts, he’s a horrible striker.
To me, the top young talents of England include Sunderland new boy Connor Wickham (signed from Ipswich Town), Arsenal target Chamberlain (Southampton), Chelsea youngster Josh McEachran and Victor Moses.
Notice something? There is only one big 4 academy graduate standing there (Wilshere’s already a regular, not including him in this argument) and the fact is he rarely gets the chance to play for Chelsea as well.
Look at Spain, names that you would probably be able to think of would be Alcantara, Bojan (recently left to Roma on what essentially is a loan), Javi Martinez (first non-Barca here) and definitely David De Gea.
The question now is why doesn’t the best young produce come directly from the Big 6 clubs (Manchester United and City, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool)? Why does Manchester United have to go out and spend a total of almost 30 million pounds on a young centerback pairing (Smalling and Jones) when Barcelona have one right out of their academy?
I think the simple reasoning behind that is that they don’t stand a chance. Apart from Arsenal and now Liverpool, there is simply no oppourtunity for youngsters wanting to make their name. I am talking here strictly about players who come directly from the academies (so Manchester United fans, Fabio and Rafael don’t count here).
You go to Chelsea and you could be having a chat about this with McEachran and Sturridge. You go to Manchester United and you could be talking to Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverly about this, the English youngsters get literally eaten alive by their older counterparts, and hence they often seek a career elsewhere. The teams in England have arguably more financial muscle (where it comes from is another matter) and they would prefer investing in more experienced, overseas talent.
The reason why I say Arsenal allows for players to stamp their marks is because although there are stars leaving here and then (notably Henry and Viera, now Nasri and Fabregas potentially), there have always been youngsters to step up to the plate and sustain the level that they have been at. As they say, (although not all Gooners will agree) consistency is key, and what Arsene Wenger has done with Arsenal is very hard to achieve, that being financial stability whilst maintaining their standards.
The likes of Jack Wilshere, Fabregas (he came in @16) and Kieran Gibbs come into mind when talking about English (Spanish in Fabregas’ case, but he could have been naturalized) players whom have graduated under the guidance of Wenger.
And why I say Liverpool, well, with Kenny Dalglish, the academy has taken leaps and bounds. Even Pep Guardiola made a comment that the Reds’ academy could challenge La Masia in a few years time.
In terms of graduates, Liverpool has seen quite a number over the past few years. There is the fullback duo of Flanagan and Robinson whom left their mark at roughly the same time last year, there is Martin Kelly, whom we will probably hope to start at rightback (Johnson on the left) and there is also Jay Spearing.
Aston Villa have got a pretty good one, in my opinion, Barry Bannan (although Scottish he worked his way up from the academy), Delfounso and Marc Albrighton are both quality players that have been produced at the Aston Villa academy. Perhaps the reason for their meteoric rise would be Aston Villa’s tiny problems in the finance department, but this simply suggests the way forward in my opinion.
I’m very sure that you guys have heard about Manchester United being in debt at least on one occasion. What I’m suggesting is that they should invest more on the academy, more on the long term, something there for good, it’s been since the golden days of Scholes, Beckham and the Neville brothers that Manchester United have been successful in churning out good English talent.