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Mr Q

Revamping Youth Football

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The scheme aims to free up the movement of young players and will set up of an independent standards authority which will monitor and rank the academies of clubs across the country.

The Premier League is planning a radical overhaul of youth development that will see the end of reserve team football, a freeing up of the movement of young players and the setting up of an independent standards authority which will monitor and rank the academies of clubs across the country.

The Elite Player Performance Plan will be the most significant study of how to develop young footballers since Howard Wilkinson’s Charter for Quality 13 years ago.

With Uefa’s rules on Financial Fair Play coming into force in 2013 and the Premier League’s demand that each club have eight home-grown players in their squad, English clubs are investing in youth recruitment and coaching more than ever before, as they seek to create a sustainable long term model.

The EPPP will encourage clubs to develop their own players and seeks to raise the overall standard of players developed in the English system — which should have positive long-term effect on the England national team.

One of the most significant changes will be to get rid of reserve team football and replace it with an Under-21 development league.

The idea is to create a competitive environment for young players that the reserve league does not currently provide. There will be dispensation for a restricted number of overage players to be part of the squad.

Participation in the league will be mandatory for Premier League clubs.

The second important development will be the creation of an independent authority to grade academies, much like the one that operates in the German Bundesliga.

The body will be created this summer and will, from next season, begin to grade academies with a mark of one to four, with grade one academies being the best.

Centre of Excellences will disappear. In the long term this would facilitate the movement of players up the academy food chain — a development that will doubtless meet resistance from the Football League.

There have also been discussions about the loosening of the rule that youth players must live within a 90 minute commute of their club.

Some Premier League executives have questioned if the rule would stand up to legal challenge and there have been talks about creating a new rule that would allow the best players to join the best academies, if they so choose.

The EPPP goes in front of the Premier League’s shareholders on Feb 3 and the new rules are expected to be voted through at the AGM in June, in time to be implemented next season.

The plan has been put together by the Premier League’s youth development group which is made up of Ged Roddy (Premier League director of youth), Ivan Gazidis (Arsenal chief executive), Brian McClair (Manchester United Academy director), Neil Bath (Chelsea Academy director), Jez Moxey (Wolves chief executive), Terry Westley (Birmingham Academy director), Duncan Riddle (Aston Villa’s Head of Community) and Mike Foster (Premier League General Secretary).

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sounds sick

a u-21 competitive league >>>>>>

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You will still get coaches picking their friend's son/nephew/cousin etc etc over talented players.

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Furthermore they need someone like Glenn Hoddle to jump onto this thing.

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With you posting this I'll put up an article I read

Is the academy system still failing English football? If it’s working well now then a huge culture change must have occurred over the last five years. Here’s Christopher Smith.

When Thomas Muller hammered the fourth and final nail in England’s World Cup coffin last summer, it instigated an unprecedented inquisition into the state of youth football in the country.

Green with envy at the likes of Mesut Ozil and the aforementioned Muller, the English media demanded to know why our top clubs were not producing this kind of homegrown talent. After all, Muller had only just broken into the Munich first team and was already helping spearhead his national side’s attack. England’s own boy wonder, Theo Walcott, was sat at home; Emile Heskey considered a safer bet.

The media inquisition placed an unfair amount of attention on two factors; the influx of foreign footballers into the English game and the ‘lack of talent’ at grassroots level. The second factor particularly sticks in the throat, an ignorant statement that no doubt disheartens thousands of talented youngsters across the nation. It sticks in the throat even more when it comes from the FA’s youth development officer, Sir Trevor Brooking.

Of course, anyone who actually considered Brooking’s comments in depth would have noted it was actually a damning indictment of the way English footballers are taught to play in contrast to the highly technical, total football that the Germans produced in South Africa.

So why don’t English clubs produce the sort of magnificence we see emerge from Barcelona’s La Masia academy on an almost constant basis? Is there something fundamentally wrong at the heart of the English game?

I recently spoke to Matthew, whose name I’ve changed out of respect for his privacy, who has first hand experience of the academy system in England. Matthew was a central defender, and happens to be the same age as Thomas Muller, 21. He had trials at the likes of Aston Villa, Leicester City, Coventry City and Walsall, before finally signing a youth contract with a football league club at the age of 13. By 16, Matthew was already an ex-footballer, turning his back on the game he grew up loving.

Matthew’s relationship with football began at a young age; a Spurs fan by trade and with a football-loving father supporting him, Matthew began playing for his local youth club. Yet, even from this point in his short career, Matthew recalls bad experiences aged nine.

“The first training session, I remember having the ball and dribbling past all the players on the other team and scoring, much to the shock of the team managers. The club was split into three different teams, and I was put straight into the top team.”

”But in the first game – my actual first proper game – I remember the manager saying ‘If you ever get into trouble, just put the ball out of play’, which I wasn’t used to. I used to just play the game and run with it. So whenever a player came up to me, I used to just kick it out of play. I got demoted after that for a few months!”

Nevertheless, Matthew recovered from this experience to eventually become one of the top players in his region. After interest from the likes of Villa and Coventry, he eventually signed for a football league side at 13. Yet, for a football fan brought up in the age of the top four and the megabucks Premier League, joining a club wasn’t the opportunity many would perceive it to be.

“I think to start with I only saw it as going along to training. This sounds bad, but I never really considered the side I joined a step up to a professional club. It’s always made out in the media that you’re only a big-time player when you’re at one of the big clubs in the Premier League.”

Despite this, Matthew noted the set-up was familiar to a few of the clubs he had trialled for before, “I was surprised at the set up definitely. I’ve had trials with other top clubs, and I was shocked how similar the set up was, considering it was a League One side at the time.” Is this down to laziness on the part of top clubs, or just a rigid English system no one dares to confront? Matthew believes it’s the latter:

“I think there is a big problem in the English academy system at the moment. I mean, I look at the teams I used to play for or have had trials with, and there are very few who has made it into the first team regularly at any level, maybe the exception of Jack Wilshire at Arsenal. I think a lot of young players go into big clubs and think of the big-time too soon, heavily influenced by the media attention around the game today. The way clubs tend to retract this is by distancing themselves from the youth set up. But I think this has the opposite consequence – a lot of youngsters are turned away because they feel disheartened and uninterested in the game; or it produces players who aren’t ready for the professional game.”

This distance between the youth set-up and the professional clubs is one of the reasons Matthew eventually turned away from football, one of the enduring memories of his time in the academy system:

“They call it the youth team, and that’s how you’re made to feel. It’s a weird experience really, how isolated I felt at times when I was there. You’d think playing for a club like that, they would really encourage you to get better and try grooming you for playing in the first team, but I never got that. It was felt like we were there to make up the numbers; I never met any of the first team, or reserve team for that matter!

I don’t think I ever met the youth academy’s director, who offered professional contracts to players, until the day I was offered one. That was 18 months after I joined. It was all made out that the first team was a completely different world to the youth team, as if the club was made up of the privileged and the have-nots.”

These factors led to Matthew’s departure from the club, and with it, his departure from the game he loved as a child.

“I had been considering leaving the club for a while. We didn’t have the best team, we rarely played good football and I wasn’t enjoying the experience. So when I was offered a contract I just thought; well, I could put up with this for a couple of years or I could go back to my local side, enjoy playing and enjoy school more. I chose the latter. Looking back, I never considered a window of opportunity into playing professionally, mainly because I don’t think it was ever sold to me that way.”

Matthew’s experiences left him feeling isolated from football, yet from speaking to him, it’s clear he has very few regrets; after leaving sixth form with excellent A Level results, he is now in the final year of a history degree. He has reignited his passion for football once again, regularly going to Spurs matches and enjoying playing football more than ever. Yet the system that is supposed to nurture this love of football instead turned it into disillusion, ruining a dream that most of us harbour from a young age but were never quite good enough to pursue. Not that talent is particularly important, from Matthew’s experience:

“At the youth academies, you’re taught to play a very rigid style of football. In the tabloids, they call it the British way; the ‘safety-first’ way, or ‘for-the-team’ way. I think young players are groomed to go onto the field and do their job, and that’s it.

I remember playing against Cardiff, and they had a centre half there – 6ft tall, very stocky – and we were told he was destined to be captain of Wales one day. He must have been the worst footballer I have ever seen at that level, but because he could head the ball, and outmuscle most players, he was what they wanted. True talented players weren’t given a chance.

I think foreign players coming into the country play with a freedom that English players don’t, which means a lot of English players will struggle getting to the highest level now as the game is heavily influenced by a more continental game.”

Matthew’s story is a sad one, but unfortunately, it isn’t the only one. Glenn Hoddle has even set up a club in Spain, Jerez International, with the express aim of helping British players get their ‘competitive edge’ back. Somehow, academies across Britain are taking raw, hungry talent and churning out disillusioned, disaffected young men with no love for the game. Even those who have ‘made it’ at the top such as Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshire find themselves at the centre of various tabloid scandals and legal trouble. Is this a product of society, or the actions of young men who have been brought through systems, which don’t appear to care much for individuals who are not only failing to develop their football skills, but their life skills?

Perhaps this is all futile. Perhaps we are stuck in a horrible rut, the kick-and-rush mentality that is routinely mocked by the rest of the world. Perhaps the thousands of promising youngsters threatening to break through are all destined to fall out of love with the game due to a system which regards them as a number, and is likely to shaft them for a pricey foreign player when they can’t deal with the rapidly evolving Premier League due to the fact the ‘British’ way is all they know. For all the money the FA wants to throw at ‘grassroots’ development, it seems likely we’ll be chasing circles until academies change their ways.

http://inbedwithmaradona.com/falling-down/

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Englands youth don't need more incentive to win

they need incentive to hone their technique and be generally better individual footballers

According to the guy that I did my FA level 1 with

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I'd agree with that tbh,

the will to win and competitiveness is there,

Skill, techniques or lack off is definitly the problem,

infact looking at The Barca youth system, they have all but removed the importance of a result in the youth ranks,

read somthing about how parents are encouraged not to ask about what the score was, but instead instructed to ask how their child performed and what improvements they made,

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Just means the bigger clubs will find it easier to snap young talent from smaller clubs.

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English needs to stop trying to copy other countries philsophy and just pick street ballers over these athletes and 6ft plus children.

Before it was all about the Brazilian model then Clairefontaine now the Barcelona model.

The new leader of The FA must be a guy who was technically gifted as a player with his own ideas and must have 100% control.

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There was this English guy who coached in Portugal and I actually attended his sessions.

I will up his article the next time I am next to the laptop.

Its an intresting read.

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English needs to stop trying to copy other countries philsophy and just pick street ballers over these athletes and 6ft plus children.

Before it was all about the Brazilian model then Clairefontaine now the Barcelona model.

The new leader of The FA must be a guy who was technically gifted as a player with his own ideas and must have 100% control.

i agree with this to a degree, as these techniques aren't always transferable for whatever reason,

but certain aspects should be taken from elsewhere

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end reserves?

which means every team having 15+ more players who don't play

they planning on adding another division?

why they tryna have less football?

think maybe more reserves highlights would help boost the status of reserves

replace league cup with reserves cup

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dunno bout that mate, at the top level they believe the more Football on Tv detracts from people actually attending games, so i'd go the other way

in the 90's what they did at United was, give you points for every reserves game you attended that went towards giving you more chance of getting tickets for league, European and cup games, saying that though as tickets aren't really hard to come by nowadays not sure how well this would work,

but maybe something like this could boost interest in Reserves and youth football,

the fact that United for instance show every reserve and youth game live,probably means less people would bother actually attending the game,

tbh though not really sure if the whole league system needs re-working, i reckon the problems mainly lie with the style of coaching.

haven't spoken to or heard of 1 coach who agrees with the coaching system,

the likes of Gazza, Hoddle, Waddle, Beckham, Shearer aswell as a few older players like Brooking, Charlton and Greaves aswell as other people should be brought together to devise a new coaching blueprint, the differing views may result in something special

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Good list but you need to drop Brooking and Shearer out.

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Lens the issue now is the reserve league isn't strong or competitive enough.

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Arsenal have been known for spotting talent under your stewardship. Is there such a thing has having an eye for a player? If so, do you have it?

There is such thing as an eye for a player, yes. Some people are just more sensitive to it and enjoy looking for particular criteria. It would be pretentious of me to say that I have it but I have worked on it for a long, long time. I have bought many young players but I do acknowledge the help I get from scouts and coaches. When I believe in a player, I give him a chance.

What’s the youngest age you can tell if a player has the potential to make it? Have you ever looked at a player and known instantly?

At 12 you can detect if technically a player can make it or not. At 14 to 16 you can detect if physically he will be able to cope with the demands of professional sport. And from 16 to 18 you can start to see if a player understands how to connect with other players. At 20 the mental side of things kick in. How does he prepare? How does he cope with life’s temptations and the sacrifices a top player must make? This is a job where you must be ready. If you get a chance, you have to take it.

How much do you need to see of a player to know if he has the potential to go all the way?

I would say the first impression is vital and that takes 20 minutes. It does vary from player to player as some have obvious talent that you see quickly. Some more steady players who have less obvious skills need maybe six months before you realise they are the real thing. Lionel Messi at 13 years of age would have needed about one minute. I have seen tapes of him at 13. He gets the ball, dribbles past everyone and scores. He has talent. Some players – no, most players – aren’t so obvious.

How common is it to scout a player who crumbles under the pressure of the professional environment?

Yes, I have seen many who crumble under pressure. A big thing that goes wrong is general health. A good young player can simply have bad genes, and therefore bad hips or knees put an end to their career early. Health is important. Players must wake up happy, have no pain and jump around in training. It sounds obvious but it’s never guaranteed.

Since you began coaching, how less likely has it become for a player with professional potential to slip through the net?

Frankly, the percentage has been reduced dramatically due to the scouting and professionalism. When I was young, I came from a village where there was no chance of detection. Today if you are good anywhere in England, you have a chance. I have been detecting players for 40 years as I started young but even today I am wrong from time to time. It’s all about opinions, even at the top level, and that’s why I say to some players not to give up on their dreams.

With the advancement of technology and sharing of methods, are kids across the world coached in pretty much the same way these days? Does this include England or are there still cultural differences?

No, the levels are always changing and new methods are always being used. Personally I believe that the skill levels with young players is constantly going up. I met my first coach at the age of 19. Today a player is maybe five, so he or she is being exposed at a far younger age.

You told FFT in 2007 that the changes you wanted to see in English youth development were already in place and that some of the best young talent you’d seen was English. Do you stand by that?

Yes, I do. I told our coaches recently that in all my time here I’ve never seen so many good young English players. I have been accused so many times of bringing only foreign players to Arsenal but that is unfair.

How do young British players compare technically to their overseas counterparts?

Ten years ago they were behind but now they are at the same level. The first touch was not good enough and general technical ability was lacking, but not any more. You can see this in the results achieved by the under-17s and under-19s – things are much better. The school system in England gave up on competitive sport but now professional clubs have taken over the coaching of schoolchildren and the dividends are paying off.

Of all the players you have coached, who are you most proud of?

I refuse to give names as I don’t want to insult others. Some have overcome more than others but might not be as talented. Giving a start to a career such as Lilian Thuram and watching him win 142 caps is amazing. If you had told me that when he was just a boy, I would have said you are crazy. He was not the most talented but you are humbled by his efforts and proud to have been involved. Human beings always surprise you and that’s the excitement.

Arsene Wenger is part of Nike’s The Chance initiative – a global search for young footballers to win a full time Nike Academy place. For more info visit www.nikefootball.com

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Also what may happen is smaller squads which is fine as it is due to the 25 man limit, at the same time more domestic players will make up those squads. I do think however that the league standards will drop, and maybe the league will become tighter if you consider the new FIFA finance rules coming in to play soon.

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The under 21 league is a good idea because it gives clubs more incentive to keep players on longer and see if they develop. However the worry is the standard in this league will probably be sh*t compared to the prem. So it's just delaying the inevitable. People will be getting dumped at 21 instead of 16 and 18.

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They need to go back to the basics and force kids to keep the ball on the floor. Whether it's stupidness like no balls over head height or you play futsal or suttin till your 12. I dunno but this long ball culture needs to be forced out. There are too many coaches who believe in it for it to be eradicated naturally. More contact time with the ball = better players. You get

More contact from playing on smaller pitches with the ball on the floor.

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Also people say tricks have no correlation with being good at football. Not buying it. The guys who are TOP players are the ones who had the tekkers to do all that sh*t like all around the world and other tricks. The tricks themselves don't make you a better player. But the time you spend mastering touch and control of the ball does.

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I think the 25 man squad rule, mean players getting dumped at 21, regardless of a U21 league.

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