The first and most obvious step is, stop buying for the future for one season and buy experience and I don’t just mean older journey-men but battle hardened, top class 28-30 year olds. The kind of players who know what to do when things are going wrong. Players who the younger guys can go to and ask questions. Just like Van Persie had Bergkamp, who do our players have?
Buy one or two players from the top table. Not only for the obvious on field benefits but for the hidden benefits such as shirt selling and raising our ever falling world profile. Remember guys, the more shirts sold, the more we have the better we can buy. Seriously, who has Diaby, Denilson or Eboue on the back of their shirts? Who are our marquee players? In time gone we have had Ian Wright, Theirry Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, Ljungberg, Limpar, even Adams and Keown. Who do we have today?
Make the youths actually have to fight. How many times do you hear that the academy is not about winning or results but creating players? What? You can not expect a player to come out of the closeted world of fluffy pillow football and straight into the shark infested waters of the premiership. I think a change is needed and that change is to get the U16’s, U17’s and Reserves into a winning mentality. We want to win those respective leagues and cups. If we are to continue with this youth project the young players need to know what pressure is. They need to fully understand there are consequences for losing and they need to have that winning mentality drilled into them. In short, they need to be toughened up.
This ties into number 3. ENOUGH WITH THE 20 LOANS A SEASON. If the players are not good enough and battle hardened by the time they reach the first team squad, they are not good enough. If the kids from 15 years of age have had the winning mentality drilled into them, they will fight to get into the first team and this (in my opinion) is better than any loan. They know what is needed to win, they know what happens when they lose and they should be ready to step up. I would rather have one player come through from the academy who is ready to step up and play than the scatter gun 20 “prospects” approach.
Be tougher with players. If after 2 seasons the player has not reached the level a title chasing team requires, sell them. No, “next season” bollocks. Football at first team level is not about next season, it is about this season and if after 80 games you have not shown you can compete with the teams around you, we don’t want you. This again ties in with the hardened “winning” mentality that all top players have. When we are under pressure, how many of our players do you see screaming at team-mates, diving into tackles, putting their bodies on the line in the name of the cause? We need to instil a winning mentality from 15 years of age, this is beyond dispute for me.
Written by Will.