Category Archives: Player development

Player Development and its Fundamental Flaws

The precedent

Football is a profession. A footballer is like a carpenter, very like a carpenter, in fact. Replace the saw, gauge, a chisel & clamp with boots, socks, a ball & shin guards. The ability of a carpenter to build a house is the equivalent of a footballer to play football. When  a carpenter takes up the profession he learns the basics in school. There is an equivalent in football, a football academy. A school of football.

This is where the disparity enters.

At this stage a carpenter would take up an apprenticeship.

At this stage a carpenter would go out on loan to League 2 or 1 or the Championship.

Don’t tell me England doesn’t produce good footballers

In short, the player is being told how to play in a different way. The wrong way. This is why so much young English talent falls by the wayside. English talent at a very, very young age, before their talent gets tainted by the inept League 2 or 1 managers is as good as you can find.

3 years ago, England won the U-17 European Championship against Spain against a team that including Gerard Deulofeu, the player who continues to impress on loan at Everton, & Jesé Rodríguez, the player who Floretino Pérez was so unwilling to sell to Tottenham this summer, with Bale going the other way, showing just how good he is.

At this stage of their careers, English talent is just as good as anyone.

This is where player development in Britain becomes unbelievably stupid.

He’s doing it wrong!

The type of football in lower leagues is totally different to the type of football of the Premiership and of the modern teams today. Teams are comprised of hard-working, technically inept journey-men. For the most part the only thing going for a player in the lower leagues is that he runs a lot. This is reflected in the English, Scottish & Welsh national teams. They are comprised of 11 James Milner’s, Danny Welbeck’s and Charlie Adam’s.

The football academy is a school, a place where a footballer learns the basics of his game but when a player ‘goes on an apprenticeship’  i.e. goes on loan he is immediately told to forget everything he has learned in school, he starts to learn a new style of football. A reactive brand of football based on hard-work and lacking fluidity and offense. 

How can a player develop when he’s learning to separate styles of football? He can’t.

Am I doing it right?

A master worth his salt would teach his apprentice to perfect his trade. He teaches the tricks of the trade such using a shotgun shell filled with salt to artificially age a cabinet. The apprentice is actually benefitting from the apprentice. He is learning from it. He’s learning how to properly make a cabinet. He doesn’t learn something completely different to what he learned in school. He knows, in no uncertain terms, what is right and what is wrong.

A footballer is sent on loan to a lower league team and told to learn by himself. He’s told to use trial and error to find out how to perfect his trade. There is no master here. There is nobody to tell a young English player what he’s doing wrong. A young, aspiring footballer is expected to go to a strange environment, with people he doesn’t know, with a manager tactically inept manager and with hierarchies firmly embedded and develop as a player

How ludicrous is that? It’s very.


The media effects both good players and bad players in different ways. The end result is always the same. A player who never achieves his potential.

Bad players 

I will leave this to Neville Southall:

It’s like a half-finished Mona Lisa. If you walked in on Leonardo Da Vinci when he was in the middle of painting the Mona Lisa and you’d probably say ‘that’s shit’. But you need to wait until the end to see the finished product and suddenly it’s a masterpiece.

Joe Hart. When Manchester City left to the Westfallonstadion, Joe Hart was a world class goal-keeper. Since then his every mistake has been scrutinized to a nigh-on exploitive extent. A couple of bad games and all of a sudden we should play Fraser Forster, who is just as inconsistent in the Scottish League. A footballer is like a carpenter. If you shout in the ear of a carpenter while he’s making a cabinet, there is no he’ll make the cabinet right. His head won’t be in the right place. Thanks to the media, Joe Hart’s head is never in the right place. He won’t be able to goal-keep properly. He will never reach potential until the media stops badgering him.

Good Players

The same thing has happened with Jack Wilshere. I can say with absolute confidence that the same thing will happen with Ross Barkley, James Ward Prowse, Luke Shaw and  Saido Berahino. The pressure on the shoulders of these four 19/17 year olds is ridiculous. It’s too much for them and they will more than likely crack under it.

I couldn’t develop as a player if a country had it’s hopes pinned on me. Only very few could.

The starkest example here is Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey. The welsh media hasn’t pinned it’s hopes on Ramsey but Wilshere has nearly been canonised as Saint Jack by the English media. Ramsey has developed to where he should be. Wilshere has not.

Of the squad that won the U-17 European Championship just one of them have went on to be regularly feature in the Premier League.

Don’t tell me that English players simply aren’t as talented as others. They simply are but the defunct, archaic model with which we develop our players from 17 onwards is stone-age compared to the Spanish  model.


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Filed under English Football, Player development