Born to score
- 15 July 2003
Absolutely. In truth, there are too many footballers. With all these spots to fill there are scores of players who are not good enough to make it as professionals. There must be roughly 150 professional football teams in the UK and Ireland (about 120 in England, 20 in Scotland, a smattering elsewhere?) so places are limited. There'll be loads of guys who'll invest major time and money, possibly at the expense of their education and with no contingency plan, only to end up on the scrapheap. I'm aware clubs do make provisions for it to some extent, to ensure their players get an academic footing as well. But then they're still being denied real world experience chasing a dream they're very rarely likely to fulfil. Not their fault, of course - the system is broken.Exactly right, this is another problem of football these days. The Premier clubs just hoover up every young player who shows any kind of talent. They even have summer soccer schools, my mate's son came home from school a few years back with a leaflet for a Chelsea Summer Soccer School that was to be run locally that summer. Why are they allowed to do this 70+ miles away from where their club is? And no doubt much further afield than that too.
The other thing from it too is that players who really aren't all that good are also getting stockpiled at these clubs. When we were in Lge 2 we had several Premier youth players on loan and the quality of them was frankly quite shocking, not in that they were awful players as such but because I expected them to be at least better than what we had and they weren't. Not one of them. One we had is now playing non league football for Eastleigh after being released by I think it was Palace if memory serves. How can a player get to 20-21 at a Premier League academy and yet only be good enough to play non league football?
In the past these players would rise to their level of ability, now they drop to their level. Plus of course in the past they would bring in vital income for lower league clubs.
Then there's the attitude of the players. I think it was the Stevenage manager at the time that I once heard on talksport. He'd had a lad from Spurs on loan and said how nice it had been because he'd come to them with a great attitude, wanted to learn, worked really hard on his game and was a joy to have around the club. He said he almost didn't take him on loan because of past experiences of players they'd loaned. He said they came to them, 18/19 yrs old on a few grand a week in their Premier academy, had the attitude that they had already made it when in truth they'd played no men's football at all and clearly didn't want to be there.
I think there should be a limit per age group. Something like you can have a maximum of 18 players per age group. Not only would that limit the stockpiling of young players it would also help those players because they'd get regular men's football much earlier. We had our own players of that age who'd played 50-100 games while these Premier youth players would come in on loan of a similar age and they had played 8 games on loan somewhere else or never played anything but academy league football.
You only have to look at some of these results this season from the EFL Trophy where the Premier U21 sides are allowed to enter.
Sunderland 8-1 Aston Villa U21
Accrington 7-0 Leeds U21
Wigan 6-1 Liverpool U21
Oldham 4-0 Wolves U21
Tranmere 3-2 Liverpool U21
Crewe 1-0 Newcastle U21
Barrow 3-2 Leeds U21
Peterborough 4-2 Fulham U21
Forest Green 3-0 West Brom U21
Harrogate 3-1 Leicester U21
Northampton 5-0 Southampton U21
If that doesn't tell you something then what will?