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The Evo-Web Football Thoughts Blog

Flipper the Priest

Born to score
15 July 2003
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?
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.
 

Stan

Allez les Lionceaux !!!
12 September 2002
My son is now 17 years old. He started playing football when he was 5. He started playing for a local team with practically all his class mates. After 6 months training, they started to play a cup competiotion. It turned out that their team was outstandingly good. They won that competition and didn't loose a single match for 3 seasons.
They received a request to play against Beerschot (Dembele, Vertonghen, Wanyama, Alderweireld, Tom De Mul all played for Beerschot and the 4 Belgians came from the youth teams). My son was 8 by that time and they thrashed Beerschot. Next they got an invitation for an international youth Tournament in Venlo with Dutch,German and French clubs. They won that tournament beating AJax in the final and my son provided 7 assists in that final. He was voted MVP of the Tournament. And then hell broke loose. Suddenly people phoned us, asking if they could 'help' our son and his friends. Beerschot even planned a special football camp in our village during a school holiday. After one day the kids said they didn't like it and we decided that one day was enough. At the time Beerschot worked together with Ajax (the reason why Vertonghen, Alderweireld and De Mul ended up with Ajax) and my son got an invitation to do a test in Amsterdam. We never went. He was far too young at the time.

The success story of the team kept going on until my son was 11 years old. Sudenly his mates got a growth spurt and he didn't. On top of that he had a rather serious knee injury and had to stop playing football for 3 months. The trainer of the team decided that he wasn't good enough anymore and he was put in B team. A couple of months before that he participated in a tournament where they had beaten Anderlecht in the final and my son once again provided all the assists. Now he had to play with kids that weren't as good and i remember his first match, they lost 21-0 and kept on loosing every single match that season, but Thomas (that is his name) got lots of plaudits from other clubs' trainers. He was gutted but not because he wasn't in the winning team anymore, but because he missed his friends. A year later (he was 12 then) he suddenly got serious anxiety problems and was under treatment from a shrink and had to take serious medication against his anxiety attacks. My wife and i are almost certain that his problems were caused by what happened at football. But when he was at his lowest ebb, the only thing he still longed for was playing football and the doctors insisted that he continued doing that. He had the luck that his trainer at the time was not competitive and was happy to have him.

He is now 17 years old and he is doing fine. His bad period lasted 3 months and after a year the treatment stopped and since then Thomas is a kid like all the others. He still plays football and once again with his mates. In the end nobody of that team left the club. They now play for the first team in 6th tier of Belgian football. They are the youngest team in their division (by far) and are last in the ranking but they are enjoying theirselves thoroughly. My wife and i are still happy he never did that test at Ajax. It all ended well, but i wanted to tell his story to demonstrate that there is a dark side in football. When it seems that (very) young players have talent they get plenty of (unwanted) attention. When things go wrong, all the attention suddenly stops. From potential stars they become misfits...that is hard to take for young people or childeren.

I wrote that my wife and i are convinced that Thomas' problems started with football (although they were triggered by school) and we are not alone. His best mate's mother and father are both GP's (doctors) and they have followed this traject (because their son was also in the team and was also considered a big talent) and they are also convinced that the deception not to be able to play with his friends (at the age of 11) broke something inside Thomas.

I'm sorry for this long post, but i felt i had to tell this story (i already did, but without the football background).

My son's story had a relatively happy ending, but i can imagine that other young people are devoured by the monster that football can be. Even top players. The best football book i ever read is the one about Enke, Germany national GK who suffered from severe depression and in the end killed himself... It is a must read for every football fan (and since reading that book i can't stand Van Gaal and Frank De Boer).
 
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mattmid

Champions League
15 December 2011
@Stan Glad to hear it worked out so well for your son, that must have been a really worrying time for you and your family.

I'll have to look out for that book, was he the one who committed suicide on the train tracks? I remember reading a piece in the paper about that at the time. I think that was him.
 

Stan

Allez les Lionceaux !!!
12 September 2002
Yes mattmid, Enke was the one on the train tracks.
The book is by Ronald Reng: A life too short.
 

Flipper the Priest

Born to score
15 July 2003
Great post @Stan. Glad everything worked out in the end. And you're from a part of the world where football clubs have a pretty good reputation for nurturing young talent! Imagine if you're a kid in London with Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs lusting after you. The pressure must be immense. Unhealthily so.

A Life Too Short is a great book. I was absolutely gripped - read it in about two sittings. Paul Lake's is also excellent.
 

Stan

Allez les Lionceaux !!!
12 September 2002
Thanks Flipper. I have the Paul Lake book, but haven't read it yet.
There is also a book about a big Man Utd talent from the Giggs generation, who didn't make it. I have that one too, but haven't read it.
 

shumway

Conference
29 August 2018
Ruhrpott
F95
A Life To Short really is a must-read!
I still remember the suicide and the days after pretty clearly, I was shocked when I read the news in the morning. Later that day Enke's wife gave a press conference together with his manager/best friend, and it was heartbreaking. She told the public about Enke's depressions, it wasn't known before.

And I still remember all the media guys, trainers, footballers and so on in the talk shows talking about the pressure, these athletes have to feel and warned (and promised) to be careful in the future. It didn't last long untill players were pilloried again after game days, showing their mistakes in super-slomo and things like that.

A few years earlier we had the case of Sebastian Deisler, a young midfielder (he even played together with Robert Enke in Gladbach's youth team, if I remember correctly) and he was overhyped by the media to be a "talent of the century", the golden boy who will save Germanys national team after the disastrous EURO 2000. He felt enormous pressure in young years and besides that he always had problems with (serious) injuries. So one day he had a breakdown (what came out afterwards) and he retired in the age of 27. Since then he is completely withdrawn from the public. The whole football industry is a monster these days.

@Stan Glad your son is happy and can enjoy football for what is is, a great sport.
 

Stan

Allez les Lionceaux !!!
12 September 2002
The book about the big unfullfilled Manchester United talent is Forever Young by Oliver Kay about Adrian Doherty.
Also interesting: The greatest footballer you never saw by Paul Mc Guigan and Paolo Hewitt, about Robin Friday.
 

mattmid

Champions League
15 December 2011
My football thought of the day and no disrespect meant to the player but how far have Barcelona fallen when Martin Braithwaite is coming on as sub in the Barcelona v Real Madrid game? This is a player that scored 8 goals in 36 league games for Middlesbrough in the Championship.
 

Stan

Allez les Lionceaux !!!
12 September 2002
What do you guys think about the penalty Madrid got?
IMO, this is a penalty. Where i have doubts about is the fact that this penalty would have been given in match of Huesca against Madrid ore Barcelona (for Huesca of course). I also hope that Spanish referees will give all these penalties. I seriously doubt it.

Something related, Maguire foul against Chelsea. Why did VAR not have a second look. This was a very obvious penalty for me.
 

mattmid

Champions League
15 December 2011
@Stan Yes I think it was a penalty on Ramos. He pulled his shirt, that's a foul. No doubt Ramos made the most of it to attract the attention of the ref but nonetheless for me that's a foul.

I thought the Maguire one was also a definitely penalty, he's got his arm right around him stopping him from getting any height on his jump. I thought VAR did have a look at it though (?) - which makes it even worse!

The 2018 World Cup when VAR clamped right down on penalty area fouls when there were loads of penalties in the group stages and by the later stages the defenders had realised they weren't going to get away with it and had stopped all the shirt pulling, blocking off and holding down etc. Sadly since then it seems to have just returned to normal and unless it's really blatant it still gets largely ignored.
 

Stan

Allez les Lionceaux !!!
12 September 2002
I agree that it was a penalty mattmid, but i'm pretty sure that if Real Madrid play Eibar next week and Ramos does what Lenglet did to him this will definitely not be considered as a penalty. I'm all for VAR but where i thought that VAR would lessen class justice in football, i was wrong. It has turned.

Without VAR Spurs and Ajax would never have played (both) the CL semi-final in 2019. And now VAR has changed and it would not happen now either. That is a shame.
 

Flipper the Priest

Born to score
15 July 2003
Picking up the discussion from last week, I see the death of Jeremy Wisten alludes to some of the points raised. Seems like this was a young kid with all of his hopes invested in a life in football and once he thought they were taken away he in turn took his own life. Tragic. Can't help but think the academy system fills a lot of kids with false hope. It's great that they get the quality coaching and facilities, but then what?
 

Stan

Allez les Lionceaux !!!
12 September 2002
Is VAR destroying our soul?
This a translation of a piece by Belgian sports journalist Hans Vandeweghe.

Rewind to November 18, 1973. Holland-Belgium, 89th minute. The games stands 0-0 and if nothing changes, then the Cruijff total football team goes to the World Cup in Western Germany. An ultradefensive Belgian team gets a free kick and Jan Verheyen scores. The referee disallows the goal for off-side and Holland goes to the World Cup where it plays fantastic football. But if you watched the images, Verheyen isn’t in an off-side position and the goal should have stood. With VAR, Belgian goes to the World Cup (remember also Henry’s handball goal against Ireland).

VAR is supposed to kill the game, but do we prefer injustice like both examples I mentioned?

Meanwhile 16 sports have some form of video refereeing, albeit some in a very minimal way (tennis, is the ball in or out?).
NFL has video since 1986, stopped with it between 1992 and 1998 and had it again from 1998 until now. Last season an average of 1,6 situations in a match were reviewed. In 47% of the cases the referee’s decision was overruled.
The season before it, only 29% of the referee decisions were overruled. Since last season, coaches have 2 challenges for each half time of the game. Referees can also rewatch video of the games, but it almost never happens in American football. The referee does explain his decision over the sound system.

In European football overruled decision aren’t communicated and challenges aren’t allowed.

...

Last season in the EPL 109 referee decisions were overruled by VAR. In 27cases A goal was awarded, 56 times a goal was disallowed, 22 penalties were awardedand 7 times a penalty decision was inverted. So VAR has a negative influence on the number of goals, but those goals were disallowed for fouls against the rules of the game.

...

Football is one of the most difficult and physically demanding sports for referees. An American football game has 7 referees and VAR. The difference is that in American football, the final decision is made by VARand not by the ref on the pitch.

...

People complain about VAR because of some ridiculous handball and off-side decisions. They forget that what VAR does is merely applying the (sometimes absurd) rules of the game. The hands call that resulted in Newcastle’s equalizer against Spurs is not the result of a mistake by VAR, but is the result of the rules of the game!

The wrong off-side call against Sadie Mane is not the error of the technology but the error of a human being who drew a line at the wrong place.

VAR is disturbing the flow of the game? Here are some data from the Jupiler League. On average substitutions, free kicks, goal kicks, throw ins and corners are interrupting matches for a total of 30 minutes. An on pitch review after a VAR intervention, on average lasts less than one minute. If the ref looks at the video screen the average time is 1’45. On average the total interruption time of a match in the Jupiler League by VAR lasts one minute. In that one minute VAR has corrected 81 wrong decisions last season. Enough said, I think.
 

Stan

Allez les Lionceaux !!!
12 September 2002
Personally, i’m genuinely delighted that Scotland qualified for a big tournament. As a kid my football hero was Scottish (Dalglish) and I always supported Scotland in big tournaments. I like them so much more than the English team. Not because of the players, but because of the press. Every time the English press thinks they are favourite for big tournaments and they seldom are decent. Once again the English press is building up this generation as a golden generation.
In my life time I can remember two English players who were the best in their position: Gordon Banks and Ashley Cole.
 

Flipper the Priest

Born to score
15 July 2003
One of the most pleasing things about last night was that it was an accomplished, professional footballing performance. In a way I'm glad there were no fans there as it made the team stand on their own two feet and while it was a bit of a grind in the end they passed the test.

I used to be such a passionate Scotland supporter. Went to every home game and lots of away games too. But then the spark totally went. Year after year of watching bang average players waltz into the team because their dog's from Auchterarder and then show no sign of intent or quality. Last night felt like a collective effort. The whole country can buy into this Scotland team because there's a real connection. It's not just Old Firm-centric either - I make it that nine of 12 teams in the Scottish Premiership had representation from players past and present on that pitch. There were two Motherwell players on the pitch. Our front three made their names at St Mirren, Inverness and Livingston. It feels like the country - more often than not completely divided by football - came together for a common (in one sense!) achievement.

This was excellent, Marshall waiting to find out whether his save was legit:

ezgif.com-gif-maker.gif

"When you've waited 22 years what's another four or five seconds."
 
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mattmid

Champions League
15 December 2011
@Stan As an Englishman I can't argue with that sentiment at all. The press are ridiculous here, building them up way beyond their ability and then enjoy knocking them down when they perform, as those who didn't get taken in by the hype, expected. I think the problem with our players is they believe the hype, they play with some of the best players in the world by virtue of the fact they play in the English Premier, however most of them are no better than average.

We've had a lot of decent players that are hyped up into world class when they simply are not. The 2018 world cup run to the semi finals was entirely because of the lucky draw for me. We played two quality teams, Belgium and Croatia and lost all three games. The only other decent team we played was Colombia and that went to penalties and they were without their best player in Rodriguez too.


@Flipper the Priest I'm genuinely pleased to see Scotland qualify and it's a shame Northern Ireland didn't quite make it too.

I think I'm in the same boat as you were regards the spark for the national team and have been for some years. I have real trouble relating to the players any more, not helped by the continual over hyping by the press as said above and building them up into these world beaters that they mostly aren't. That video in your post was brilliant to see just how much it meant to Ryan Christie, you could see how he was just so overwhelmed with the moment. Great stuff.
 

Flipper the Priest

Born to score
15 July 2003
I get a sense, too, that England really isn't comfortable in its own skin as a nation. Plus we benefit of being shit so it means more. England qualify and it'll be headphones and toilet bags on the bus and home.

Not:

 

papinho81

Premiership
22 March 2017
Chaumont Switzerland
Olympique de Marseille
I am trying to add realistic tactics to FIFA16 a bit like I did with PES17. While I was looking at pressuring aggressivity (that I measured that way to normalize by the time a team hasn't the ball; Pressuring= Total number of tackles*50/(100- Average possession) ) using this Premier League season from whoscored.com, I was schoked to see that based on this stat neither Liverpool, nor Man City are using high pressure/gegenpress anymore.

I did a bit of searching on the net and found actually interesting stats/tacticals articles that are helping to have a clearer view on the matter.
I am sharing them in case anyone is curious or interested about those data based football analyses:
https://statsbomb.com/2014/07/defensive-metrics-measuring-the-intensity-of-a-high-press/
Code:
https://medium.com/calcio-datato/measuring-the-intensity-of-pressing-2763bac927c2
I would certainly suggest the first one at least.


PS: And a good site to have look at the data for the main European ligues:
https://understat.com/league/La_liga

(scroll down and go to tables options)
 
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1 August 2009
A few years earlier we had the case of Sebastian Deisler, a young midfielder (he even played together with Robert Enke in Gladbach's youth team, if I remember correctly) and he was overhyped by the media to be a "talent of the century", the golden boy who will save Germanys national team after the disastrous EURO 2000. He felt enormous pressure in young years and besides that he always had problems with (serious) injuries. So one day he had a breakdown (what came out afterwards) and he retired in the age of 27. Since then he is completely withdrawn from the public. The whole football industry is a monster these days.
He was hyped a ton but actually had the game to (kinda) back it up iirc. He's in the conversation of the most gifted German players of the last few decades. All the injuries and missed tournaments obviously cratered his career value tho.
Anyway I interpret his story more as a very sensitive guy who does not fit into a locker room culture dominated by machismo characters and all the attention & pressure that comes with being a good player at Bayern. I mean I certainly couldn't take Oliver Kahn & Felix Magath screaming at me every day and questioning my manhood every time I slightly mess up. ....Which is how I imagine this stuff goes, you can't just play football and be happy when at Bayern. As a famous wine connoisseur once said: "You win, or you die."
 

Madmac79

Champions League
11 September 2006
Lazio played under a terrible rain and a super heavy field yesterday. Dspite it all, it was so nice to not see the obsessive defense tiki taka meta, for once. A lot of long passes, aerial duels and still classy plays in the opponent's half. Don't know if it felt exactly like a game from the past, but it surely was hella fun (also cause Lazio won of course :D ).
 

Flipper the Priest

Born to score
15 July 2003
Lazio played under a terrible rain and a super heavy field yesterday. Dspite it all, it was so nice to not see the obsessive defense tiki taka meta, for once. A lot of long passes, aerial duels and still classy plays in the opponent's half. Don't know if it felt exactly like a game from the past, but it surely was hella fun (also cause Lazio won of course :D ).
Music to my ears as someone who rejects possession football as the "right way" to play! Goals are what make football great. The entertainment comes from scoring them, not how. As for teams who play to win at all costs, fair enough. Might not be pretty to watch but football was never designed for the spectator. And now, especially, it's ultra professional. For the clubs and their players it's all about results.
 

shumway

Conference
29 August 2018
Ruhrpott
F95
He was hyped a ton but actually had the game to (kinda) back it up iirc. He's in the conversation of the most gifted German players of the last few decades. All the injuries and missed tournaments obviously cratered his career value tho.
Anyway I interpret his story more as a very sensitive guy who does not fit into a locker room culture dominated by machismo characters and all the attention & pressure that comes with being a good player at Bayern. I mean I certainly couldn't take Oliver Kahn & Felix Magath screaming at me every day and questioning my manhood every time I slightly mess up. ....Which is how I imagine this stuff goes, you can't just play football and be happy when at Bayern. As a famous wine connoisseur once said: "You win, or you die."
Yes, you're right. But I think it's not just Bayern but the football industry as a whole, at least in the big teams in the big leagues. It is just not made for so called "sensitive" guys.

Thomas Broich was another very talented and hyped player in the 2000s, who simply lost the joy to play in the Bundesliga because of the pressure and the handling of some trainers. So he gave up the chance of a big career and went to Australia playing at Brisbane Roar and enyoing life. He was awarded as the player of the decade in Australia after he retired years later.
There is a pretty good documentary about his story, if you are interested:
 
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