If you want a Saturday Mailbox, you know what to do: [email protected]…
Why do clubs persist with youth development?
Is there a school of thought – there is, I just may be the only attendee at this school – that thinks why are the elite clubs in England still persisting with youth development. Further why are they increasing their investment in this.
1. As many people have pointed out in recent mailboxes the elite clubs do not/cannot give un-tested youth regular game time in their starting 11s. Instead the preference is to sign tried and tested, experienced professionals.
2. Football clubs, the majority, are run as businesses. And therefore all investment would be made with an eye on the expected ROI.
3. Running a youth set-up must cost millions. The infrastructure, staff costs, everything down to the food all the young scaly-wags eat. A quick google says Man City spent over £200m on their new academy alone.
So, clubs spend a fortune on nurturing talent… but then don’t have any means to utilise this talent in their senior squad.
Granted an elite club could identify a Messi or Ronaldo from 12 years old, nurture him and that would probably be a good return. However, the chances seem slim nowadays and getting slimmer by the week with the amount spent currently.
I do understand there are other benefits to youth set-ups, community buy-in etc etc (I couldn’t think of anymore so I put a couple of etcs in).
Also, for the non-elite clubs it clearly is viable as they can bring up players, give them game time and then sell on.
I think I’ve made my point. But perhaps I could have just summarised it as – why are Man City spending hundreds of millions of pounds on players who will never play for them. Why not shut down the youth-set up and just re-invest that money in buying the players that will play for them?
Come on, England
Cracking mailbox this AM. Welcome relief when Ed isn’t boring the tits off everyone or when United fans aren’t vomiting their reliably ill-informed opinions. Still, even mid-table teams should be allowed to be heard, I suppose.
But a strange thing happened in my household last night and it is refreshing to hear Ken Lalobo’s tale too. My partner has been to a great many games with me. Anfield many many times, Milan Derby, El Clasico, Withdean, Highbury and a couple of others. And unlike 99.9% of the United fans on here she’s been to a game at OT (back in ’06 at the FA Cup Semi). As we were sitting down to supper she metioned off-hand about how well England were doing in the Euros. Clearly it was a source of great pride to her, as it was when the England Roses came second in ’15 at the WCs.
Now, I imagine she expected my usual stock response. Which is to say I am from the Andy Murray school of supporting whomever England are playing at whatever sport unless my Liverpool boys are doing well such as EMO against Argentina or in ’01 when Liverpool FC beat Germany 5-1 in their own backyard. But I turned to her and said “Yes, yes they are. Wouldn’t it be great if they went far and maybe even won it. Imagine the strides women’s football in England would make if they showed their under-achieving baby-Bentley male counterparts how it’s done”. I could see she was genuinely pleased. So much so that whilst two small children govern our evenings [and lives; natch] we are planning to sit down and watch the QF’s together on Sunday. And for once I will be supporting England.
Gregory Whitehead, LFC
Sunday League team v England Lionesses
In response to Luke Nuckley: Euro 17 is good, now for the atmosphere.
Women’s football does not attract many fans because the standard is so low. If you think the game you saw was of a better standard than a premier league game, you are wrong. Women’s football is better than it used to be, but it is still extremely low quality.
The USA women’s team got tonked 7-1 or something by the men’s under-18s a couple of years ago, which sort of proves it: the most successful women’s football team against a teenage team of a middle-ranking men’s national football team. I suspect you could take a Sunday League team and they’d beat the women’s national team.
I find it difficult to accept that women get paid to play football and get to play at a World Cup – I am not very good at football and will never get paid to play, semi-professional players in the conference, who are better players than these women, will never play in a world cup.
The product is on the market. The market doesn’t think the product is very good. It really is that simple.
Are you going to tell me that I have to watch women’s football and pretend it is good? PC nonsense.
Alex (LCFC – Champions of …. oh, damn it)
With Coleman & Funes Mori out for a while, and a lot of young defenders out on loan, Everton have 1 left back with no cover, four CBs (one of whom can cover at right back) and one right back.
Surely this isn’t enough cover for a season when we’re involved in 4 competitions? I’m wondering why Everton have loaned out all of their young defenders.
Speaking of Coleman – if Kyle Walker went for £50 million, how much would Seamus have been worth this summer if he wasn’t injured?
Postcard from Ireland
Happy Friday to everyone at F365 towers.
Just a quick update on the latest batsh*t crazy thing to be happening in the League of Ireland.
So as you may or may not have heard, Bray Wanderers FC released a peculiar statement yesterday. Among other things, they managed to reference North Korea, Manchester United, Conor McGregor, Barcelona and Ray Houghton. I really urge you to read the full thing.
The purpose of the statement was to try and assuage doubts about Wanderers’ ability to actually, y’know, pay their players and staff for the rest of the season and also to clarify the future of their stadium, the venerable old Carlisle Ground. The Seagulls’ finances have been the subject of much speculation since they released a previous (also ill-advised) statement at the end of June, at half time of Bray’s league game against Dundalk… for purposes of comic timing I guess?
This first statement lacked the, erm, ‘colour’ of their most recent but, broadly, it explained that the club only had the money to pay players and staff for the next two weeks and blamed the poor attendances for this. You see, in their wisdom, the powers-that-be at Wanderers had decided that because they did well under their new manager towards the back end of last season, they would go whole-hog this season. So, they spent a shed load(in League of Ireland terms) of money on wages. There are reports that before the season started, fairly average players were being offered €1,000 a week to come play for Bray, with some clubs muttering that they had inflated the wage market for the whole league.
In terms of performances, this was worked quite well. Having a decent manager, and going out and signing some good players will do that. Bray sat 3rd in the league this season, behind the twin powerhouses of Dundalk and Cork City. The problem is of course, that Bray gambled with money that did not have. The improved performances did little for attendances, as improving from 6th/7th to 3rd in League of Ireland hasn’t cause a blip on the Premier League/GAA obsessed Irish mainstream media’s radar. To be frank, anyone with a brain, or at least the power of pattern recognition, could have predicted this.
A few days after this crisis back in June, the club suddenly announced that an investor had come through for them, and the club’s finances were now secure. Players and fans had a hard time believing this. Dublin City, Sporting Fingal, the fall of my own beloved Shels and countless other laughable financial meltdowns have taught them that such an announcement often has little relation to reality. It is the Irish equivalent of a board giving a Premier League manager a vote of confidence.
But against common sense, Bray Wanderers still trundle on. They have slipped down to 5th the league with the players they can’t really afford. They are releasing laughable statements like the one I linked in the first paragraph. The 155 year-old Carlisle Ground is going to be re-zoned and probably torn down(the local council today poo pooed Bray’s pipe dream that the club would get any of the money from the rezoning and sale) and the Seagulls’ fans are standing around, just watching their club do a passable imitation of a 5ft high house of cards on a very windy day.
Next week, we look at how Athlone Town are being investigated for being(allegedly) involved in a Chinese betting scheme that exposed the complete lack of integrity in the comp… actually, no, this has depressed me enough.
Jamie Rowe, Dublin
Tight or thrifty Tottenham
In response to Brad S, on why people are giving credit to Spurs versus looking unfavourably on Arsenal for the same approach – you are right. But as an unbiased observer, there may be a few reasons (other than what the MC commented).
Firstly, Arsenal were solidified as one of the big hitters in the league. And although the reasons behind their approach to this period in time were widely understood, the expectations on Arsenal weren’t lowered to suit. They were still expected to be pushing for the title in a serious way. Not winning the league was failure. Especially when it came to light that they actually had plenty of money in the bank but weren’t investing, despite having the resources to boss the market. This was also at a time when it was the “top three”, and eventually the “big four”, rather than the current “six into four” situation.
Compare this to Spurs, who have no real prestige behind them (in terms of winning trophies in recent times). And as such they are still not expected to win the league. I think people expect them to give it a real go (and rightly so), but I just don’t think it would be seen as the same kind of failure as it would at Arsenal, if they were to not win the league. Indeed I think top four would still be welcomed by Spurs fans as a sign of continued progress in a time where there are realistically six (seven?) teams targeting the top four positions.
Secondly, I think Levy (and everyone else, tbf) are expecting the current transfer market to be a bit of a bubble, which cannot be maintained. Therefore it would make no sense to blow £50+ million on a player they could potentially buy for much less in a year or so, especially if you are a team who are competing at the top end of the market where fees are even more inflated (due to clubs not wanting to sell, because the cost of replacing is so high), and your bank balance probably doesn’t quite match that of your peers. Unlike Arsenal, they cant boss the market (except for demanding ridiculous fees for their own players, if they were to sell).
It could go either way, maybe in a few years Spurs will have made a tidy profit from selling at inflated prices, and can then splurge when both their own finances are a bit more stable and the market has crashed. Or maybe the cost of recruiting players will continue to rise, and Spurs will be left behind, rejoining the race for “best of the rest” in the Premier League.
As an outsider, I hope it’s the first option!
…I was just wondering where this whole Spurs can’t afford to pay big wages myth actually come from? They choose not to, but that has nothing to do with whether they can afford them or not. They now have the 6th richest owner in UK football (since the new Wolves owner moved in according to Business Insider on the 27th of May) valued at £4.6bn, the clubs revenue was over £300m and they are valued at north of £1bn. I have nothing against them and they are doing a bloody good job but the constant spouting off from certain fans about the club not being able to afford wages/fees is total tripe!
A season on the road
I’m surprised that so many people seem to be tipping Spurs for a shot at the title this coming season.
I think, without the new Stadium situation, then that would be spot on. But aren’t they playing all their “home” league games at Wembley until the new stadium is finished? I seem to remember that working out pretty badly for Arsenal in their Champions League games, and even worse still for Spurs last season?
I think the toll of playing 38 “away” games, along with the suggestion that other teams seems to raise their game when playing at Wembley, might cost them a top 4 spot, let alone a shot at the title.
Nature v nurture
My first question is this: how can a world be considered meritocratic when it’s down to “natural talent” as opposed to hard work and application? And how would one even define or quantify “natural talent”? The mail also completely overlooks the fact that natural talent is nowhere near enough – I expect someone like Ross Barkley would’ve looked incredibly talented from a young age, but he’s actually pretty rubbish because he hasn’t responded well to how he’s been coached. I can understand why some people might like this influx of talent because it’s nice seeing the best players in the world in our league, but what really outstanding, high-level games were there last season? Spurs were consistently pretty awesome to watch and Liverpool could often look wonderful, but surely these are successes of coaching and development of sides over natural talent?
Another point: it’s now indisputable that the prioritising of overseas talent has a massively detrimental effect on the progress of club academy players (again, lovely to see Spurs buck the trend on this), which is why our national team is such a mess. I’m also a big rugby fan and watching England is the absolute pinnacle; nowadays I don’t even watch England football. We surely have the richest football association (can’t find a source for this) and better technology means better development, so therefore more money means better technology; so why is it that we can’t be market leaders in this area? Coaching methods can be shared, sure, but the best coaches cost the most money, so how exactly would a country like Indonesia match England in player coaching, particularly at youth level? It would be lovely for non-traditional footballing nations get more involved, but the logic is flawed I’m afraid. Confused, even.
I really don’t see how a league full of Harlem Globetrotters benefits anyone from the UK, and if the league doesn’t benefit the country, it might as well be a franchise. Yes, it’s good seeing the finest talent competing in the league, but surely it’s not just me who finds it sad that the two most likely title winners in City and Chelsea could very feasibly play each other in a game that doesn’t feature a single English player on the pitch, is it? To follow on from yesterday, there’s a balance to be struck, and the scales are so heavily weighted to the side with all the cash on. So, in totally disagreement with Colm, the sooner this ends and our clubs going back to being just that – something the players can buy into as much as the fans – the better. Who knows… we may even get a competitive national team again at some point.
Alex G, THFC
You know what grinds my gears?
It’s my first week back from holiday so I’m not in a particularly good mood. I therefore just wanted to share a few things that have been doing my head in for some time:
(1) Managers who talking of exciting ‘projects’. A ‘project’ is a small/ medium club who has just been acquired by a new owner with loads of cash. A club who the newly appointed manager would never have considered otherwise. It’s a good career opportunity to earn and spend a load of money. Stop dressing it up as a f**king ‘project’
(2) Tracksuits with the initials of the manager/ coach. Why? You get paid a seven figure salary, people know who you are, why is it necessary? I don’t wear a suit to work with my initials on it. People would think I’m a c**t
(3) Players continuously talking about ‘respect’. I don’t think I have ever, in a 20 year career, walked up to a superior and said, “listen, I know I didn’t get (insert: birthday card, pay rise, promotion, client meeting), it’s a question of RESPECT.” How does a 67 year old coach disrespect an 18 year old youth player.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’d be interested to hear if any other mailboxers have irrational things in football that really grind their gears.
Massive props to Brian in this morning’s mailbox in particular for “Bruno&Bong – Jazz detectives” . Would love to hear more about what this show would involve? In my head it is a cartoon somewhere between Hammerman (the MC hammer one) and a non-aquatic Sharkey&George.
Here is how I see it going down: new signing Matt Ryan is distraught because he can’t find his goalie gloves or something and he brings in the boys to help. After interviewing to Chris Hughton and Anthony Knockaert they end up at a dead end. To blow off some steam our heroic duo start to improvise some music; maybe Bong starts drumming on a dustbin and it just escalates from there. Before they know it they have taken themselves on a musical journey and somewhere along the way… BAM! Bruno has a jazz fuelled epiphany and the whole case unravels. Turns out Niki Mäenpää has been hiding them all along in a bid to get himself a place in the first XI.
These are just my musings – happy for Brian to correct me – it is his baby after all.
Probably should say something about football…. Doesn’t feel like I am going to though.
…Brian (seriously….) Bravo sir….bravo.
Genuinely Lol’d at Blind & Bailly. If the Man Utd social media official partner brother’s vet is reading – this needs to be made into a regular feature.
A few others I came up with in no discernible order:
Chelsea: Kante & Costa: this hot-headed speedy coffee delivery business stumbles across crimes in the course of caffeine refreshment – what is the dark secret that Diego has to hide?
Man Utd: Martial & Mata(s) – this unlikely and under appreciated duo take on the Detroit rap scene, with hilarious consequences yadayadayada
Arsenal: Maitland-Niles & Oxlade-Chamberlain. A four part series on the intricacies of lawn croquet.
But the real question of my email is: Do Man Utd even have an official Braille partner?? They will soon….
Matt J, Saints
Transfer fees and buying out contracts
I’ve been amazed by the amount being spent on transfer fees this summer, especially the fees mooted for players such as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ross Barkley. Sigurdsson is a great player, but thinking of paying £50 million for him is laughable when you look back at recent seasons. Over the last 4 years £50 million could have bought an Alexi Sanchez, an Ozil, a Di Maria, a Mata or a James Rodriguez with a reasonable amount of change left in the tin, and in my opinion these players are all a level above what Sigurdsson would bring to a team. I know comparing fees from 2013 and now is pointless, but even this summer, £50 Million would get you a James Rodriguez, a Lacazette, a Bernardo Silva or a Salah with change left over.
(Please note, my issue is not with Swansea asking for £50 million for him, I understand that he was the key figure in keeping the club up and Swansea would struggle to replace him.)
The situation gets even more ridiculous when you look at players like Barkley or Sanchez who are entering the last year of their contract. Will any club pay £50 million for Barkley (especially when he blows hot and cold on a regular basis) when they could get him for a nominal fee next summer? He’s not worth that much to Everton, and I don’t think he’s worth that much to any team who would buy him. In contemplating this, I suddenly thought of Atletico Madrid signing Vitolo. (Vitolo bought out his contract and signed with AM, but will only register in January). I know that Spanish clubs frequently put buy-out clauses into contracts so players can buy their contract, but what stops someone like Barkely doing the same thing? A little internet research suggests he gets £40k a week. Over a year this works out at just under £2million. If he bought out his contract and signed for Tottenham, as far as I can tell, Tottenham would then have to agree a compensation fee with Everton which would be based on value lost to Everton. Surely this would be a far smaller fee than £50 million?
I’m guessing that I’m missing something here, because if this were the case, I imagine Sanchez would be off to Bayern or City like a shot. Please forgive my a) rant and b) ignorance but can anyone explain why players at English clubs don’t buy out their contracts?
I’m sure I’m not the only one that finds Liverpool slowly but surely finding themselves in the same position with Coutinho as RB Leipzig do with Keita a little hilarious, am I?
Oh, that’s good. Carry on then.
Kevin Walsh, Luimneach