Rob Fielding notes how four successful clubs have something in common – commitment to a style of play and a focus on developing youngsters.
Rob Fielding writes
There’s an interesting article on the BBC Sport website at the moment. It’s an interview with Jermaine Jenas about QPR’s failings in the Premier League. In it, he notes that “For too long, the thinking was just to chuck money at the team. There has been no organisation, no vision, and no discipline in the way things were done.”
Now, I’m not suggesting that is Vale’s approach – I’m not close enough to the club to comment and I think the current partnership of Rob Page and Norman Smurthwaite still deserves time.
They dropped as far down as League One but went back to their roots and concentrated on developing young players…
However, one of the interesting comments that Jenas makes is “Southampton are the stand-out club for how to get it right and their model is the one that Rangers should adopt. They dropped as far down as League One but went back to their roots and concentrated on developing young players.”
It’s an interesting observation – Southampton do have an awful lot of youth development work in place and a similar thing can also be said of:
Bournemouth: “Bournemouth are one of those according to the chairman, who believes the philosophy Howe is introducing throughout the whole club will be hugely beneficial to the future.” (Sky article)
Brentford: “Jon, speaking to Bees Player after the match, said he could not fault the effort of his players but they did not impose the Brentford FC philosophy on the match.” (Interview with Development Squad manager after a defeat)
Swansea: “Our players must understand our Club philosophy and the reasons why, we endeavour to play in the style we do. We have an identity that has taken a number of years to develop and we are proud to be respected for the way we play.” (this is from a brochure sent to all Swansea academy players).
It seems a bit pretentious to call all of these club’s plans a “philosophy” but there is very definite long-term planning at all four clubs.
It’s a plan that is put in place throughout every aspect of the playing side – from the youngsters progressing in the junior ranks to the style of play the club’s various teams play. Swansea even give their players a brochure explaining the standards expected of them both on and off the pitch and the owners’ “long-term desire to enhance the Club’s reputation.” The expectations and standards are certainly high at the Liberty stadium.
All clubs have adopted very similar long-term plans and have all moved up from the lower divisions to get into the Premier League…
All clubs have adopted very similar long-term plans and have all moved up from the lower divisions to get into the Premier League or in Brentford’s case, challenge for a place in it.
All four of these clubs are successful. All four of these clubs have a long-term plan/philosophy about how to play the game and how to bring success. All four are prepared to give their plans time to come to fruition.
It’s encouraging that five youth team players were handed professional Port Vale contracts this summer. I hope it shows that Vale want to bring in talented youngsters from within. In my view, this approach is laudable and correct.
It’s interesting that while researching this article I noticed how many players signed for Swansea et al because they admired their style of play. Closer to home, Crewe’s academy regularly attracts players drawn to their philosophy of trusting in youth and their style of play. If Vale became known for a way of doing things, for a certain style of play, perhaps we too could start attracting more young talent?
But first we need to ensure sensible plans to be in place. We need staff to “buy in” to those plans, for the club to explain them, for fans to back them (and have patience) and for people to see the club’s plans in action before players start actively seeking moves to Vale Park. Swansea, Southampton, Bournemouth and Brentford have shown that if you develop workable long-term plans, execute them well and keep faith in those footballing principles, then success can follow…
Perhaps it’s time for Port Vale to follow suit?