Talk Tactics – The Freedom Of Buying & Keeping Young Players

Talk Tactics Keeping Youngsters

I should first point out that today’s “Talk Tactics” column isn’t following the same structure as my game analysis pieces. Instead, this piece serves to ask questions about the overall tactics of buying, retaining, and selling youngsters as part of the club’s ecosystem.

After sitting down and looking at how fans have reacted to certain players in our team, and their performances (or a lack thereof), it made me think about how youngsters often get cut far more slack from fans before, at some undefined point, the expectation on these individuals lead to criticism and the inevitable collapse under the weight of crowd pressure. Is this a universal concept at all clubs, or a particularly bad problem at Aston Villa?

With obvious reason, the focus will be put on our own young players, but with youth being defined as players under 24 who are currently at the club. Some may well make a strong argument to say that “youth” indicates a far younger group of individuals, possibly those who are in the under 21 bracket, but the reasoning for picking out 24 as the marker will become self evident.

I also wanted to look at when a promising youngster becomes something else, whether as a result of achieving success or, as is more often the case, due to a failure to display the required attributes to compete at Premier League level.

Focusing on the latter topic first, there is some sort of hard-to-delineate switch that flips at a certain point in a young player’s career. At this point, a player goes from being mostly supported and lauded as a future star to something else. For many who would be around this tipping point, the likes of Barry Bannan and Nathan Delfouneso being two candidates that spring to mind, their Premier League future, or rather their Aston Villa future hangs in the balance.

For fans, questions invariably get asked about players who are not doing as well as they should do, but who still manage to stay as a named player in the squad, without actually challenging the first team.

This, by design, leads me back to my first point – the reason why I delineated youth as a player under the age of 24. Under the terms created as a result of the Bosman dealing, any club who owns the contract of a player under 24 is protected by virtue of a tribunal system. If another club wants to purchase them against the wishes of a player’s current club, even if they are out of contract, a tribunal is set to evaluate the cost of losing this player. After the age of 24, the lucrative – in player terms – Bosman ruling kicks in leaving clubs facing players being able to leave at a limited or no value fee depending on the closeness to the end of their current contract.

Logic may determine that Bannan, as an example, may not be a future player for Villa. However, with his salary likely at a more modest level when compared to those earning high wages in the upper echelons of the first team, retaining Bannan’s services – whilst he has a value that can be extracted if a team wants him – may well make sense for the next few years at least.

That is because, all things being equal, selling a young player will yield a return, even if they are out of contract. If the prospective sale price of a player only amounted to a couple of million pounds, maybe even as much as five million, retaining their services is relatively cheap, and offers some financial reward on their exit, something that disappears when a player reaches 24.

Taking this analysis deeper, one can understand the logic of Paul Lambert filling his team with young players who have a desire to play well. Assuming the players perform as expected, it means either an improvement for Villa’s squad or a likely sale of said player(s) for a profit. If things go wrong, youth rarely has a significant cost in financial terms, certainly not when contrasted with the figures bandied about at the top end of Villa’s wage bill.

Getting away from the club view and back to the fan’s perspective, I often wonder at what point fans switch their view of a player from a youngster who is often perceived to be allowed to make mistakes in the eyes of a fan, to the point where said player will become denounced and abused as a result of their mistakes.

When is this magic age? It is at 18? 20? 24?

Logic would dictate that the age is certainly lower than 24 considering the amount of abuse I have seen hurled at Marc Albrighton for simply getting a cross a few yards too long. Albrighton, a player who will turn 23 in a couple of months, clearly seems like fair game when fan anger is concerned, but then one could argue that, certainly as the team currently stands, Villa’s sole true winger may not have more of a future in B6 anyway.

So if Albrighton can be screamed at for errant passes in his early 20s, why is it that Gary Gardner seems to get away with it? It’s an honest question that is meant to elicit honest answers. Is it because Gardner is seen as having more potential? Arguably I would say Gardner has displayed no more or less potential than Albrighton had at Gardner’s age, however Gardner’s injury record certainly poses question about his longevity in a game where he has already had two ACL injuries.

Perhaps it will be hard to define the exact time when fans decide a player isn’t allowed those mistakes they were once expected to make. Is such an attitude beneficial for a team though? Should players beyond a certain age honestly be expected to be flawless? Professionals or not, the skill taken to deliver a ball at speed across tens of yards shouldn’t be underestimated. For those balls that seem to miss the target by a few yards, the “issue” can be both the recipient or the deliverer, whether down to poor passing, lack of movement, or the opposition simply stopping the attacker’s run.

Which, to digress slightly, is why I refrain from hurling abuse at a player who has seen his pass miss the mark by a yard or even ten. Football, a game that may well look effortless when the ball is at the feet of players such as Xavi, Cristiano Ronaldo, or Lionel Messi, is far from a precise art, even for players in the Premier League. For every player who has the amazing ability to deliver a ball on a sixpence, much like David Beckham did for Manchester United before leaving the country to play elsewhere, there are tens of players who will miss the target.

Some of this is down to natural ability, although any person close to David Beckham, or even a student of his career, will be quick to tell you that Beckham’s work rate and attitude towards continuous footballing improvement is second-to-none. Beckham may well have been more gifted than the average player, but it is the addition of a non-stop attitude of improvement that puts him as close to a world class player as England have produced in the past generation of products.

Getting back to the youth, and the broader topic of mistakes in the game, perhaps Lambert’s acquisitions offer a two sided series of benefits – not only are the youngsters hot prospects, but they also are likely to get cut more slack from a fan perspective as even Christian Benteke, Villa’s biggest buy of the recently closed transfer window, is only 21.

What do you think? Is Lambert’s vision of a youthful and determined Villa team as calculated as I illustrate above or is it simply a case of Villa buying at the level they can afford to at present? Let me know in the comments below.

About the Author

Avatar of Matt Turvey

Matt TurveyMatt is the owner of, and chief writer for, Aston Villa Life. He is also a weekly columnist for the Wolverhampton Express & Star, appearing in the 247 pullout the Monday after Aston Villa play, and every Thursday as a blogger on their website. He has previously been featured as a writer on Football365 and Life's A Pitch, and was a regular pundit for Sports Tonight TV on Sky.View all posts by Matt Turvey →

  1. TrinityTrinity10-09-2012

    This is an intelligently written piece, mate.

    Big Ron seems to think it’s a calculated gamble. If he gets it wrong, we’re in trouble, but if he gets it right, he’ll become a legend.
    I think it’s a calculated vision mixed with pragmatism give the current financial situation.

  2. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Thanks for the kind words Trinity.

    Big Ron may well think it was a gamble taking the approach that we have but it would be even more of a gamble in some other way if, for example, we decided to spend a fortune on other more “proven” players who, as we have seen in the past, can still make mistakes.

    I am pleased with our business and maybe some part of the above piece will illustrate how football is as much about financial retention ideas such as those shown above as it is about maintaining a team.

  3. steamersteamer10-09-2012

    Hello Matt,
    Enjoyed the read, you can always pick up a new word on this site, delineate, very impressive.
    Iv’e never been one to slag off players when their on the pitch and doing their best, only the one’s that don’t give 100% or the ones who shouldn’t be anywhere VP but after the Everton defeat i admit i was losing a bit of faith in BB and Clark, two players iv’e always held in high regard, one game on and a good performance behind them, i’m asking myself if i was a little hard on them and come to the conclusion that i wasn’t, they will have to put a run of quality games together before they are accepted as genuine EPL players, not just the odd one, so the jury’s still out on them in my book.
    Surprised to see Big Ron being a little negative when he supported our previous managerial disaster so strongly, Herbert and Gray you can understand as they aren’t really Villa, only leeches, but Ron …..

  4. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Steamer,

    Maybe Ron, in his infinite wisdom, is trying to play the part of an objective devil’s advocate.

    Either that, or he figures that being a controversial contrarian would get him headline news?

    Like you, not surprised by average pundits having their ill informed views about us, but Ron’s attitude is somewhat puzzling.

    PS Glad the site can help with new words and hopefully my use of them isn’t seen as a bad thing – I just write off the cuff and don’t mean to intentionally write in an overly complex way.

  5. southwestvillansouthwestvillan10-09-2012

    I think PL will give the lads enough game time to show what they can do then it is up to them, you cannot keep playing people if it sticks out that they are not good enough, Clark, Bannan and Delph need to step up now or they will be gone, sometimes you see a player and he instantly stands out as a player to watch, i remember the first time i saw Gary Shaw i knew he would be a player i am not getting that feel about some of these although Carruthers,Burke and Drennan could all be lively.

    UTV

  6. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Southwest,

    I agree – I think the age these players will be sold will be 24 at the latest, probably a little before which is why Bannan et al are in the last chance saloon – in my opinion at least.

  7. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Delph is 22 too so you can see the 24 mark I write above is a cut off point the club will likely adhere to.

  8. southwestvillansouthwestvillan10-09-2012

    Matt,

    Is that a picture of Bannan doing some colouring in if so it looks like he has gone outside the lines.
    Must Do Better. 4/10

    UTV.

  9. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Ha indeed Southwest – may need extra colours for the Noddy drawing on the other side of the page…

  10. DeadlydougDeadlydoug10-09-2012

    Matt some good and valid points raised ,with regards
    young players coming through and making the grade.

    Having had some experience with this issue the 1st question raised is not the age but the costings ie;
    if for instance lets say Bannan has been at the club since he was 10 X that by the years it has taken him to breakthrough, if at all he does(more will fail than succeed) then already the club will already be indebt by the money infested thus far!

    Age is irrelevent if their good enough they’ll be in come what may! (Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney)

    Ideally for youngsters to flourish in the premiership, they have to be in a team that is winning or mid table
    because what the premiership does not allow, is time for nurturing the skills of youngsters.Kids have to hit the ground running!

    Having said all that,look at the youngsters Villa have brought through but because of the situations already highlighted have been realeased; Ridgewell Gardener,Whittingham ,Cahill,the list goes on.But given time and patience can go on to be great PRO’s

    Yes i agree managers have to come in and sometimes make knee jerk decision ,but generally they clear the decks and start with their own ideas as to the best way forward.

    Villa have a great record for percervering with the kids
    but sometimes Business gets in the way and if a player has cost £40k in coaching you sometimes have to cut your losses?

    Just to jump the point for a moment,was going through some old footage of villa last night,and when O’neil came in 2006-7 he did not have time to sign a player so openly admits i’ll go with what i’ve got for now!

    Villa where the last team to lose in October that season going on to sign some free bee’s in the january window?

    The question i am asking is did O’neil inherit a better squad from O’leary than Lambert did from Mcleash??

  11. Professor WoodProfessor Wood10-09-2012

    Very interesting article Matt,
    I think as I’ve got older and, sadly passed the age where I could still make it in the premier league, I seem to have become a little more pessimistic about our younger players.

    I like many of the writers on this site have already discounted the current crop of 20+ aged youngsters as being unlikely to make it in the big time, those being Bannan, Herd, Albrighton and Delph. You can also add the likes of Delfonso and Gardner to that from the slightly younger crop (I can’t see how a player can have 2 ACLs in 2 years and still be able to compete at the top level). Clark I think still has some chance, mainly as he is a centre back and it takes much longer to work out if they will make the grade – I was always sceptical as to whether Cahill would be a top class centre back and to be honest I still don’t rate him that highly, more a case of being the best of a mediocre bunch at the moment as far as England are concerned, I mean Terry is still in the England team for god’s sake.
    But I digress. The main cause of this impatience is the quick fix mentality of the English top division since the introduction of the sky cash cow.
    The ramifications of that deal are the creation of an abject fear of relegation within the game as a whole and the development of a stockpiling mentality by the super-rich clubs at the top of the tree.
    The fear of relegation was apparent even on this site last year, with the belief held by quite a number of contributors that, should Villa get relegated, the club would disappear into oblivion, a conclusion which as Steamer and co would probably tell you is unlikely to occur to a club like ours. The effect of this is to go out and purchase ready made players “off the shelf” (e.g. Darren Bent in our case but more commonly the overseas market) to avoid this fate, given this tendency how can young players get experience? Multiply this by the 20 clubs in the league and is it any wonder that the quality of players coming through at the moment is so low.
    At the other end however there are the teams at the top (Man City, Chelsea and to a certain extent Man Utd) who are stockpiling young players to sit on their benches – e.g. Johnson, Milner, Richards etc. at City, Bridge, Parker etc. at Chelsea a few years ago. Again this reduces the young players access to game time. The effect of all this is a reduction in the effectiveness of younger players and leads to an England team which, at the moment bores me to tears…..
    The question is this, are the young players now worse than they were 20 years ago? or have the expectations risen so high that only the 3 or 4 best young players in the entire league going to have a chance of making it?

  12. Professor WoodProfessor Wood10-09-2012

    Sorry for the long post by the way, it’s a bit Gabbygabby esque…

  13. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara10-09-2012

    I think the question of when a “youngster” becomes a “squad member” comes with experience rather than age…

    We know more about Delfouneso at 21 with his 40 first team appearances… The judgement is made after a certain amount of games has been played… and what kind of potential they show in the games…

    Gardner has always done pretty well when asked to play IMO… Albrighton seems to do one thing well and 8 things wrong.

    It is clear though that we are going to sink or swim with the quality of our youngsters… we will need a supply coming through the ranks to suppliment Lamberts purchases in the coming years… lets hoppe Williams, Carruthers, Grealish and the likes can step up and make there mark… lets hope Lambert sends them out of the cocoon that is Bodymore to become hardened pro’s ready for first team pressure and performances…

    I maintain the ability is within these lads… technically they are very good, but they are niave and under experienced compared with players of similar age at other clubs…

  14. Johnie MJohnie M10-09-2012

    Great piece Matt & food for much thought

    An analogy – I picked two19 yr olds to play for the tennis team on Sat – Let’s call them Cocky & Humble . Neither performed well but Cocky blamed everything apart from himself & couldn’t care less awhile Humble was devastated & vowed to deliver if picked again

    For Cocky read Bannan & Delfounesco & for Humble read Albie & Gardner. They must all listen & learn but more importantly APPLY themselves – Like Beckham did – not the most naturally gifted footballer but got the best out of himself.

    I doubt we will see the Fonz back at the Shrine & I’m certainly not a Bannan fan . Albie needs to practise his crossing and he can come good again. Gardner has been unlucky with injuries & I hope Ron Vlaar reassures him he can come back again

    As to age Matt, 21 should be old enough to have a good idea about someone’s ability & DESIRE – Alan Ball world cup final + Owen, Rooney, Giggs – admittedly exceptional talents all.

    Our lads know the score now – Lambert wants HUNGRY players but are they already too rich & pampered for him to change their outlook ?

  15. The DroydThe Droyd10-09-2012

    This season will show us one way or another whether certain ex youth team players are good enough or not.

    I think unless Delfouneso has a 20 goal season for Blackpool he can be written off. I would have thought he is there so we can put a price on him by the end of the season. The guy just doesn’t put enough effort in on the pitch and is easily knocked off the ball.

    I am not convinced about Bannan or Albrighton but this season will show us with those 2. We have seen far more quality from Albrighton than Bannan but that was 2 seasons ago.

    I think Clark will be good enough but he needs a really good run alongside Vlaar to determine this. We have Baker or Dunne in reserve if Clark doesn’t do the business.

    I am a fan of Lichaj and a bit puzzled as to why we have signed Lowton. Nevertheless I trust the manager and look forward to seeing our new full backs against Swansea.

    The other youngsters are too young to making final judgements. Weimann only broke into the first team towards the end of last season and scored a fabulous goal. He has the work ethic, not sure about quality though.

    We will see. This season we will learn much about our younger players. Some of this will be conclusive evidence, some of it not so.

  16. John ClarkJohn Clark10-09-2012

    Good read, Matt…

    Youth is always tricky. Loaning players out is probably the best way of developing and evaluating them. If they start and contribute with a Championship team, they’ve got a chance, and the experience is invaluable.

    Which I know you endorse.

    As some are saying, slotting one or two younger players into a more established squad is preferable: there’s more cover and support, errors aren’t to be feared as much.

    But generally, players either look like they belong or they don’t. Many have been impressed by Carruthers’ brief minutes because he’s simply looked like he’s ready to go and isn’t cowed by the situation.

    Albrighton had that same look about him a couple of years ago, but seems to have lost his way. It’s certainly a lack of confidence/composure/relaxation that his him over-hitting the ball. Too much in his head, not just letting his body do what it can do (and not talking here about taking on and beating defenders).

    But over-rating youth is common. It’s just much harder to make that step up than a lot of people might think.

  17. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Thanks to everyone for their comments, and my apologies for the delay in responding.

    It is interesting, though perhaps obvious, that many people have looked at players in sole footballing terms whereas part of the article is about the financial aspect of things.

    If a club wants to be self-sustainable, and a player signs professional terms when they are 18, a moderate contract is plausible to be recouped, even if the player only managed sporadic first team appearances by the age of 23.

    Let’s say the contract is £10,000 a week – not indicative of specific players but a general figure.

    If a player stays at Villa for five years as a contact, but they leave at 23, the club gets a fee regardless due to ways of manipulating the tribunal.

    In this instance, the player has “cost” the club close to £2.5m but even players who have left teams can cost that much – a Championship team might pay that for one of our players who don’t make it.

    Compare and contrast that with any player who we have bought externally. Pretty much every player we buy from another club will never make their money back.

    There are exceptions – Stewart Downing made a profit, but even Ashley Young wouldn’t have broken even due to his contract, time at Villa, and sale price.

    The point is that with Lerner and Faulkner targeting a sustained position of wanting to make the club pay for itself, then youth – at least youth who can be brought in and developed for the team or sale with Jordan Bowery as a prime example – will make the club money.

    Players like Bent, or even Benteke are unlikely to make Villa money. Benteke might make the club money if he has an outstanding season and another club comes in for him at a huge price but, even then, these moves aren’t straight forward as a player scoring you goals will make you money in other ways.

    Whether people like the fact that we have numerous “hangers on” in their eyes, the youth are low cost, low risk, and whilst, yes, they do require time and investment from a youth perspective in terms of training etc, this cost is nothing in comparison to having to pay tens of thousands to a player who may or may not make it.

    I’ll try to deal with individual comments below.

  18. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Deadly,

    I agree that age is irrelevant in the very best players but, as my Dad always says, there is rarely a young player of Wayne Rooney’s ability at every club, never mind in every player.

    There is absolutely no doubt that, as you say, Villa’s system can produce talent that will have a career in the game, but the question is how many can they produce that will have a career at Aston Villa?

    Everyone you mention has made it – Cahill at a bigger club in terms of success – but the rest are at clubs who are generally a lower level at present (Ridgewell arguably at a similar achieving club at present excepted)

    I know you mentioned coaching costs but in today’s game that counts for nothing in the scheme of things – the club have committed to the youth setup and they will be training a player regardless, it’s just obviously the case that not every player can make it.

    £40k, the figure you use, is nothing when you consider MON was paying that to players PER WEEK and that illustrates just how pivotal young players – either internally developed or otherwise acquired at low cost/wages – will be to the future of this club under the owner’s current vision.

  19. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Professor Wood,

    Yes, impatience obviously will have an impact and, yes, relegation fears regularly serve to spur clubs into business to ensure they do not happen – Darren Bent being a prime example (as you say) of expenditure based on “x is cheaper than relegation”.

    However, I had never looked at the spectre of relegation as real. That isn’t intending to be nonchalant in my attitude to what have been two poor seasons, but we survived, and I thought we would do – despite it being close and poor. Call that support, idiocy, blindness, or whatever but it did work out luckily.

    Things could have gone horribly wrong and far be it for me to suggest that we can consider ourselves invincible because even McLeish couldn’t get us relegated but, all things being equal, we managed to survive and we move on.

    The English national team will always have its own issues due to things that are and aren’t fixable. The standard of coaching is improving in this country which will help, but players have small amounts of time with their national setup which is why it has often been the case that one club or another provides the foundation of players that the team is built around – not always because of favouritism, but because of stability.

    Debatable if that has worked, mind.

  20. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Graham,

    Your comment does serve to say that we have a “second line” of players who can come into the place of those who may not have made it, and that it may well be the case that the “new breed” can make it where others didn’t.

    When you say they are under experienced, that is the fault of the management system for not giving them the needed experience, and I don’t mean by plopping them in our first team.

    Players such as the ones you mention should be out at Championship teams for season loans to bring them up to speed, and potentially repeating that logic for a few years so that, when they do come into the Premier League, they are hardened by games, not babies thrown into the cauldron of Villa Park.

    Look at last season – I actually found it laughable that some fans wanted Gary Gardner to be recalled because he scored a goal on his debut for Coventry. The players need to develop because without this kind of schooling we will, for an infinite period of time, go through the same old problem of what we have seen with our youth – that they don’t make it for us.

  21. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Johnie M,

    You have hit the nail on the head for the type of players, from a footballing perspective, that a manager wants in his team.

    Those who think they are greater than they are rarely are, some exceptions aside, but the mentality of your example “Humble” is exactly what Lambert wants (and has got) from his signings.

    If a team can grown based on that mentality, and that the cost can be low, not only will the fans be happy, but so will the manager, CEO, and owner.

    Everybody wins.

  22. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Droyd,

    I concur, especially on the point of Delfouneso because he is in his last chance saloon at the club. If Blackpool have a blinder, and Delfouneso is a top scorer then he may come back but it will probably just be used as a shop window for him to find a new club.

    Most of the players won’t make it, largely because that’s numbers for you.

    One thing you mention about why would we buy Lowton seeing as we have Lichaj. I know past seasons of MON have taught us that the squad should never rotate, but competition is the obvious answer – we need a team to be hungry for success, not complacent.

  23. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    John,

    Indeed I do laud the virtues of putting players out on loan simply because it means that there is experience being gained by those individuals in a less caustic environment than that of a Villa team that is struggling to make its mark.

    Some may think we need the players in our team, but that is often not the case – just how many young players have you seen come into the team and play astonishingly well for any period? I would say very few.

    The counter argument will be “Well the players don’t get a chance so they won’t make it” but I ask everyone this – do you think a player is more or less likely to succeed at a club where the trajectory is wobbly at best or on loan at a club that will, more often than not, be winning more matches than it loses?

    PS I’m well aware people will then say “But Gardner went to Coventry and they got relegated” but a) Gardner is one player and b) I’m sure everyone gets the point of a Championship education ahead of a full on Premier League baptism.

  24. Alan DidionAlan Didion10-09-2012

    Matt,

    I think that the purchase and play of younger players is a result of PL’s (and Lerner’s, by extension) vision for Villa going forward.

    By purchasing and developing younger players, from a monetary standpoint, Villa has put a high floor under the team. Not that they are paying high wages, but that there is a very low risk of a financial collapse. As you say, there is a good chance that regardless of whether an individual makes good, the monetary outlay can be recouped, at least.

    The tradeoff is that, for the short term, the performance of the team, may have a lower ceiling. Buying more expensive, older players may get Villa more points this season, but the financial risk would be greater.

    Long term, I think this is the proper thing to do. The performance ceiling gets higher with each succeeding year. And a couple of years down the road, the hope is that the depth, and financial footing, of the team is so solid that we can sell off some of our younger talent to buy that one important piece that may push us over the top and into top 4 territory.

    From a fans standpoint, I hope age is not the sole factor for when a player is determined to have outlived his usefulness. Players develop at different rates. I think fans get restless, not when someone turns a certain age, but when we have seen them at the prem level for a couple of seasons, with no apparent sense of improvement in their play. This can happen when someone is 21 or 24. It may seem strange, but it can be easier to give a pass to a 22 year old that we haven’t seen a lot of, rather than a 22 year old who has slogged through mediocrity for a while.

    There is a saying in American football that the most popular player on the team (by the fans) is the 2nd string quarterback (maybe here the 2nd string goaltender). The quarterback has the ball the majority of the time and his mistakes are more visible to the casual fan. So everybody is screaming for the backup to play more, even if there may be a valid reason he is not playing, i.e. he is not as talented. That usually lasts until the fans actually sees the backup in action.

    This is not supposed to be a Given vs. Guzan comparison. I think Guzan is the right guy now. But more an explanation that the younger guy you haven’t seen, hasn’t disappointed you yet, so he gets cut more slack.

  25. Johnie MJohnie M10-09-2012

    Matt

    Spot on – the greatest advocate is Fergie – in lower divisions they should get regular game time & because of the more physical approach it sorts the men from the boys

    As you previously mentioned the few exceptions such as Rooney are just able to hit the ground running in the premiership

  26. DeadlydougDeadlydoug10-09-2012

    Considering there is nothing to talk about i think we got a good constructive debate going?

    Spot on with Fergie and kids he knows when to loan them out and bring them in?

    But without being to hard on the kids at villa, personally i think clarke the best bet of them all, as long as he stays injury free which other club in the premiership does have a conveyer belt of kids every year??

  27. cliffdubbscliffdubbs10-09-2012

    I for one would much rather have our summer transfer dealings than QPR’s who if it goes wrong for them then they are properly in the mire.
    As much as a big name signing lifts the whole club there is also a certain amount of satisfaction tinged with some smugness when one of your own makes the breakthrough.

  28. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Johnie M,

    Fergie is indeed a master of it, though his loaning out of players tends to go to the lower Premier League teams. Villa, by comparison, obviously can’t get away with lending players to a team in the same league.

    So our best bet is to loan players to a team in the Championship who wants a player we might have to help them with a promotion push – in cases such as this, everybody wins.

  29. B6toBrasilB6toBrasil10-09-2012

    A good leader Matt.We`re back to discussig youth and our younger lads again,but with a different slant this time.
    I really must applaud PL and the club`s transfer policy.I feel it`s a win win situation.If the u24s are sucessful they stay and sign a better contract,if a rich club comes sniffing we sell them at an inflated price,if they aren`t good enough for us we recoup a fee from Huddersfield or Watford for example.It`s an about turn from spending “dead” money on 29 year olds who no sell on value.

    As for abusing player`s mistakes,no I`ve never done that.I`ve often groaned with disappointment but the abuse is best saved for the pub after not during a game.Agree with Steamer though,if you don`t give %100 in a Villa shirt you deserve all you get.
    Really excited to see the lineup on saturday,now everyone is eligible.Whatever way you look at it that will be a young starting 11.

  30. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Deadly,

    A lot of teams have eschewed the route of kids development simply because they believe the only way to progress is to get stuck on the treadmill of buying established players in order to progress.

    Of course, there are players who succeed who are both established and new but, as my article states, the fact that the financial losses may be significantly less on a youth player, or a younger player who has been purchased with a low fee and wages, is a solid indicator of how the board want the club to be run, ie on a solid financial footing.

  31. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Cliff,

    I think we would all be in agreement that the way that QPR have gone about dealings is very risky to say the least.

    Should the team suffer in terms of results and end up going down, their wage bill, reportedly already over 150% of turnover, could see them suffering a similar fate to other clubs that have gone down and not come back up.

    Some will point to Mittal and Fernandes as the difference at QPR but, all things being equal, they will have to make massive slashes in that wage bill if they are to balance FFP over the three or four years term it is measured.

  32. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Chicago,

    Age can obviously vary in terms of usefulness, but the 24 year line is something that is relevant because of the financial possibilities for loss – this is why most teams will offer new deals to players who don’t seem 100% ideal for the club but who are not total write offs either.

    As for building a platform, it’s certainly the objective of Paul Lambert, but to suggest it might prove to get top four in as short a scale as you illustrate would be highly optimistic to say the least.

    Villa will progress from their recent places over the past two seasons, there is no doubt of that assuming things work, but a top four aim is wildly unrealistic in a couple of years.

    Depending on Villa’s performances this season – a top 12 finish being the aim – a top eight challenge may well be broadly feasible in three or four years.

    This isn’t mean to sound defeatist – quite the opposite – but whilst targeting winning every match is exactly what I would be saying, lining up the chance of a shot at the top four in the next few years is the last thing I would say if I was a manager.

    Why? Think about it logically – that’s some bar that you are setting and, whilst it could be seen as a sign of massive ambition, I would suggest it is more likely that we would fall short of the required level to get there.

    No insult to Lambert or the team, just the case that I think an assault on the top half of the table is only a medium term plan, so a chance at the top four would be logically long term, and all depending on how things pan out.

  33. RagsRags10-09-2012

    Hi Matt,

    New to AVL, it’s a good site and a nice change to reading mails about Liverpool on F365!

    Interesting post. I remember J’Lloyd Samuel’s entrance into the first team being less than overwhelming, his performances were mixed at best and it didn’t take long for the hecklers to get on his back. Then after a season or so, despite his critics, he raised his game dramatically culminating in an England call up.

    Consequently I don’t necessarily believe there is a direct correlation between a player’s performance and crowd reaction. A reaction to criticism could be positive or negative. Maybe it’s more dependent on the players mental capacity to handle failure, success and the pressures that come with the modern game.

    I do however think Albrighton has struggled with the huge pressure he has had on his shoulders. Milner, Young and Downing leaving has, for me, had a massively negative affect on his game. Firstly, the whole team post O’Neil and prior to Lambert had been under more scrutiny, as the quality in the team has decreased and the results worsened. Secondly, I think as fans we expected Mark to have the quality become a stalwart on the right hand flank post Downing and unfortunately he hasn’t lived up to this inflated expectation. I agree Albrighton has faced heavier critique than Gardner but given the amount of game time Albrighton has had compared to Gardner at a bad period in the clubs history, I find this fairly logical if thoroughly unjust.

  34. Alan DidionAlan Didion10-09-2012

    Matt,

    I agree with you that the timeframe may be too fast. Certainly PL should not be saying such a thing, especially internally. I suspect Lambert and Lerner are on the same page, else he probably wouldn’t have hired him.

    Barring a huge cash infusion from a new owner, I think for Villa to be successful over the long term, the way forward involves a steady stream of young players maturing together. Selling those that don’t pan out, selling a few of those who do in order to prevent a huge wage bill coming due all at the same time. And using the cash from outgoing transfers to buy a select quality player to fill a glaring need at a position or two. Hopefully, at this point, Villa would be at a position in the table that would be more attractive to some of those players.

    I would be ecstatic if this plan were to come to fruition. Patience required. This plan does not happen overnight.

  35. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Rags,

    Firstly a big welcome to the site and I hope you enjoy your time here.

    With regard to Albrighton, I think part of his problem is that the traditional winger, something he clearly is, has fallen out of favour since MON exited the club.

    To that end, he may well not be suited anymore given the change of play.

    I agree that there are variable as to what makes a fan dislike or like a player when they may have performed at a similar level. A classic example was Carlos Cuellar – for me, he wasn’t exactly a stellar performer but many people warmed to him because he is active on Twitter and a humble bloke.

    When you consider the variables can be as diverse as performance vs personality, it is understandably hard to define that parameter. In a sense part of my article was somewhat rhetorical because it is largely impossible to define exact reason why one players gets more stick than another, all things being equal.

  36. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    Chicago,

    That is exactly the plan of the board and manager. Like you, I would be delighted if it was to happen and, like you, I agree it requires a strong mindset and patience.

    The problem with any team, not just Villa, is that with any improvement comes increased expectation. One only need look at the end stage of MON’s reign where some fans said that he should be sacked if he couldn’t get fourth and into the CL.

    Obviously his financial dealings meant we were likely to be on a downward trajectory anyway, but it does serve to illustrate that, long term, some fans will never be happy, no matter what they win.

    After all, no matter your standing as a club, you can always do better either by placing higher, winning trophies, or retaining them.

    One only need glance at Chelsea to see that sometimes even the title can be seen as insufficient when expectations are elsewhere. Look at Di Matteo’s season – how will he do better than last to show improvement? Retain the CL? Win the title? Both?

    It simply goes to show that sometimes there is a ceiling that a team can’t break without sinking an enormous of cash in – Manchester City, for example, have spent £1bn since Mansour took over on their club, on and off the pitch, yet they currently only have two trophies to their name. Whatever your thoughts on City as an entity, their return is hardly good value.

  37. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey10-09-2012

    However, one senior person at City did say this when questioned about their abundance of spending:

    Money means nothing to us because the family earnings on their oil fund alone totals $100m per day.

    Contrast that to our owner and you will see the massive gulf – their fund would make all of Lerner’s wealth and all of the money he stands to make from the Browns in less than a month.

    A sobering thought.