Youth has been an issue for me over the last couple of years.
- In terms of not getting any younger having turned 30 in the last year
- The fact that I feel our youth team are being miss managed at the moment
When I look back at the 2 more successful managers of recent times Smith and Money. What they did best was integrate the youth team fringe players into the squad. This in turn meant we afforded a better caliber of experience in the squad to go along side the youth.
If you take Smith for example. Preston was 3rd choice CB. Benning and then Rico second choice LB, Kinsella second choice RB. Flannagan was our extra midfield option and Morris rotates as a wide option.
This was not unfamiliar with Smith having played Grigg up front with Macken which no doubt bought him on to the player he is today. He also integrated Paterson into the team.
Whitney did try to do this but in doing so went too much the other way. Although I commend him for Korey & Liam Roberts as well as Baka who has proven to be a good player in this league. The reason for our struggles later in his tenure was the weak bench we were presented with. This I believe more of a side effect of spending the extra wages gained by adding youth on players who weren’t experienced in this league.
Where Keates lost it was that he didn’t trust youth at all. As a result he spread his thin budget over 22 players commanding a higher wage on average. Leaving us with undoubtably a squad high in number but low in quality. With one argument being that, if he had Cook and Gordon. Did he need Ferrier or could that have been Candlin or Parker etc.
The fact is that the youth team has produced. If you take out Paterson, Grigg and Rico who have gone on to better themselves. We have produced Preston, Benning, Bakayoko, Kinsella, Morris, K Roberts and L Roberts who have proven to be good enough for this league. That could now be 7 of 11 first team players with the hope that Cokerill-Mollett, Sangha, Candlin and Parker are good enough to add to that.
We will never get experience out of these players unless we are willing to give them 10 mins here or a cup game there. Playing them in a midfield with 2 other experienced players for example.
Take Kinsella for example, 90% on here would have got rid of him last season. Non League at best I think he was called more than one occasion. Look at the difference game time makes. Now, I don’t think I’m out of place to suggest that he could play higher than our level.
You will never know how good these guys are until they have 40-50 games under their belt. Even in 10 min spells. Even then they will still need 100 games to be consistent league one players. That fact remains, we have proven to be successful with the managers above when we have utilised them, not for what they bring but what using them allows us to bring in. Beyond that, should they be successful, the money the sell on for is keeping the production line alive.