Fun fact: When Swansea won league 1 in 2008, before rocketing up the championship the next year (and now looking to be promoted) They were employing three scouts. and two of those scouts were utilized to monitor upcoming opponents. So basically, the top club in league one that season which emphasises the importance of its scouts uses one paltry scout to find it’s talent.
I’m following on from this article posted a while back, about the need to utilize the lower leagues, and this article is arguably more important. So, back to Swansea. If they have one scout who will be largely looking for the talent to improve the club on a long term basis, travelling all over europe to find the unpolished gems, then how often are they going to see reserve players from the top clubs?
And the obvious answer is very little at all. So in general if a scout is going to go see a teams reserves it’s based very much on reputation, as this blog attests. Which isn’t really very good is it?
I mean it’s great for United, who seem to have the monopoly on loaning players around the premier league lately, and Arsenal who seem to have zillions of players on loan everywhere. Not so great for the other teams, who may well have talented players in their midsts but no-one interested in loaning them because noones ever heard of you if you are a youth player outside of the reputed god academies that are Man U and Arsenal. For example, this season we have loaned out darby, ince, palsson and eccleston of our youth players. Four players, and not one of them has a loan in a higher league then league one.
Now perhaps those are the levels of those players, but arguably, players like for example, Liverpool’s Steven Darby should’ve had loan moves long before they actually got them (Darby’s was the second half of last year, at Swindon, incidentally) and Liverpool have alot of other players who are decent without a doubt, but need some game time to really test their nerves. But we can’t, because there just aren’t enough lower league scouts to allocate the time to watch these talented youngsters.
So how to get these youngsters in the shop window? How to get the likes of David Amoo (again Liverpool) the games he desperately needs to kick on? Easy. Bring the shop window to the scouts, door to door salesman style.
That is to say, a winter or summer tournament for the premier league clubs to take their reserves to in order to show their mettle. Something that was held in London where it’s numerous top stadiums could be put to use, and in close locale, so that any scouts that wanted to watch alot of talented reserves could do, quite easily.
Hell, we know this works. The obvious example being the world cup, there is also the South American under 20 championship to consider. A few notable quotes here:
‘A team-mate of Tevez back in 2003 was Javier Mascherano. At the time he had not played a senior game for River Plate. But he was so impressive in the under-20s that he was fast-tracked. A few months later he played for the full Argentina side – still without having made his River Plate debut.’
‘Another Argentine midfielder, Ever Banega, used the 2007 tournament to give his career an astonishing kick-start. Barely known even to Boca Juniors fans at the start of the competition, by the end he had forced his club coach to find a place for him in the starting line-up, and was just a few months away from winning the Copa Libertadores, being capped at senior level and a big money transfer to Spain.’
It can work, and does in other countries. Where Banega rises to stardom, someone like Steven Irwin (Guess which club he’s at?) is fading away, not getting the chance to showcase himself. Of course, the difference in talent is a debate for another time, but there are plenty of talented players out there, who if given the platform can show what they are truely made of.
It is doable. While it would definately be hard in the winter to find the space amid the christmas fixture congestion. But the benefits for the English game and the talented youngsters that are without a doubt there, would be huge. Not to mention the money that the lower league clubs could save on loaning youngsters they like the look of.
Of course, it is bound to be more complicated then that. However, what is certain is that the premier league clubs need to do more to expose their youth talent to the lower leagues. At the moment it’s all to easy to be a talented player and just never have the oppurtunity – it’s easy for us to say they need to desire to succeed, but at the moment the majority of young talent isn’t even getting the chance to show their desire to succeed. At least, not early enough.
And certainly, a tournament or showcase of these younger players would be a good start.