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Player Development


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Something that’s been going round in my mind for a while, sparked off by things I’ve seen on Twitter, Facebook and the Taylor Moore thread today.

I think we all see the benefit in loans for our younger players, especially that first experience of “men’s football”.  Even within that we often see two phases:

  1. the non-league (Southern League level equivalent) loan, which also allows development at City too, and shorter term deals providing flexibility.  Examples being the likes of Louis Britton, Marcus Day, etc.
  2. the league loan (EFL2 sometimes Conference), to get there first taste of real professional football, the adjustments to getting picked, not getting picked,  the results business, no longer being the age group star, etc.  Examples include Joe Morrell, Antoine Semenyo, etc.  These players aren’t likely to be on the fringe of the first team and therefore the constraints of the loan system re 6/12 months, recall clauses in windows aren’t much of a concern, as we don’t expect to need these players back at Ashton Gate

For both of these, I think Brian Tinnion is doing a fantastic job as loan manager.  Please carry on reading, as I’m not about to go on and criticise Tinman!

We seem to have introduced another phase:

  • The League One (or SPL) loan, where we give our fringe players game time.  This is not restricted to the younger players as we’ve seen Bailey Wright and Matty Taylor go out on loan too, but has been used mainly by younger players, e.g. the likes of Max O’Leary, Liam Walsh, Joe Morrell etc.  These players have generally played a number of games (some over 50!) in the first team.
  • This group, whilst on loan, and in an ideal world would be available to bring back in the event if injury, etc, are unable to do so outside of the loan window.

Let’s take a look at some of the current crop of younger players, but I’m only gonna include league loans:

Taylor Moore - age 22 - City apps 31 (signed from RC Lens for circa £1.5m)

Previous loans (in order): Bury 19 (Lg1), Cheltenham 38 (Lg2), Southend 40 (Lg1), now Blackpool 5 (Lg1).  Plus 10 at RC Lens across Ligue1/2

What is he genuinely gonna learn from going on loan again?  Apart from feeling like he’s had a kick in the nuts during his decent development this season.

Joe Morrell - age 23 - City apps 6 (Welsh full international) - Academy

Previous loans: Cheltenham 39 (Lg2), now Lincoln 31 (Lg1)

Although Joe hasn’t made many first team appearances for City, he came in last season and proved he is ready to compete for a place.  He’s even proved he can compete for a place in the Wales full-team.  It seems wrong that he’s doing this whilst donning red and white stripes in a division down.

Liam Walsh - age 22 - City apps 19 (signed from Everton for circa £1m)

Previous Loans: Yeovil 17 (Lg2), Birmingham 3 (Champ), now Coventry 31 (Lg1)

I admit he is my blind spot, but enough of you rave about him, so I’m going on your views.  Should he really be dazzling in Lg1?  Did he need 40 games in Lg1?

Max O’Leary - age 23 - City apps 18 - Academy 

Previous Loans: Kidderminster 5 (Conf), Solihull 23 (Conf), now Shrewsbury 32 (Lg1)

Ok, goalies a different beast, but having made the number of Champ games he has, did he really need a Lg1 loan, or take his chance as permanent no2 to Bentley (or Mäenpää had we not signed Bentley)

Zak Vyner - age 22 - City apps 13 - Academy

Previous Loans: Accrington 17 (Lg2), Plymouth 17 (Lg1), Rotherham 34 (Champ), Aberdeen 18 (SPL)

Probably the last person who needed a loan, having played 34 times at this level for Rotherham last season, let alone to the SPL.

Antoine Semenyo - age 20 - City apps 16 - Academy / SGS College

Previous Loans: Newport 32 (Lg2), now Sunderland 4 (Lg1)

Of the list probably the one to loan out.

Others I could’ve added in, but only made a few apps:

Sam Szmodics, Haks Adelakun, Tyreeq Bakinson.  In Szmodics case he is 24 also.  Probably another subject matter in itself!!

So what does say if anything?

Firstly, are we ruthless enough with who is going to be good enough or not.  Before their current loans:

Taylor Moore had made 138 EFL-level (I’m including France in that) appearances, yes 138!!!  If you can’t judge after that many then you’ve got to ask yourself serious questions

Next is Zak Vyner with 81, Antoine Semenyo 48, Max O’Leary 45 (inc Conference as he’s a keeper and I’m making the rules), Joe Morrell 45 and Liam Walsh 39.

Do we need to be a bit more cruel to be kind?  Sorry X, you need to look to progress your career elsewhere.  In Zak’s case, if his 34 games for Rotherham and 5 for us in the Championship isn’t enough to gauge whether he’s ready to fight for a place in the current squad, then I’m worried.  He either is or he isn’t.  A loan to the SPL ain’t gonna help that, it’s just prolonging a decision.

Secondly, why are we entrusting this vital stage of our players development to another club, with another set of coaches, with a different system, ultimately at a lower level....by which you might also agree they probably have lower level skills too.  If our coaching team are so good on the training ground why aren’t we exposing our next-gen of first teamers to the same methods, the system we need them to be ready for, etc.  If we genuinely believe they are next-gen / on the fringe / in contention, why not give them the opportunity to be coached at the best level.  Sink or swim.

Thirdly, whilst our “boys” are out on loan, we are moving the goalposts, by signing players that may / will block the pathway or cut down the games they’d be getting now.

When Walsh and Morrell went out on loan in the summer, did they expect Nagy and Massengo to be signed permanently?  In fairness, in Massengo’s case, at 18, I think you have to take that signing opportunity.  What are they thinking about their return in the summer?

In Taylor Moore’s case, might he feel aggrieved that we’ve brought in Filip Benkovic?  Might he feel the same will happen in the summer and he’ll be back down the pecking order.

In a similar vein, would Sam Szmodics have signed if he knew Kasey Palmer was gonna sign later in the same window?

Onto Max O’Leary.  I’m sure he’s loving his loan, doing well at Shrewsbury (like Morrell and Walsh), but he could be the bona fide no2 to Dan Bentley, benefitting from day to day coaching from Pat Mountain alongside Bents.  That is without thinking about added complexity of Maenpaa (a fine keeper himself) not getting kitted up as JoJo Wollacott comes in as the Club-Developed player.  That could’ve / should’ve been Max. Would’ve helped letting Semenyo go out on loan, plus given LJ a full choice of 6 outfield subs too.  Win:Win!!

So, I think we are seeing muddled recruitment impact across the board.

I don’t think we should be sat here at the end of the January window, appearing to have strengthened our squad, yet many are saying “we’d be no worse off with Morrell or Walsh in midfield” for example.

In fairness, I think the whole loan system is restrictive too, but on the flip-side, we know the rules, and are hamstringing ourselves by having to go into the market when we have players already on our books.

To end up, are we going to see similar 3rd phase loans for the next crop, e.g. Jonny Smith, Bakinson (again), Freddie Hinds (Yes, he’s still here), etc.  I know it’s not a one-size fits all, but it does seem to be a “holding pen” for some players, and a wasted opportunity to integrate these players with enough “man’s football” experience into the first team set up.  Some of this will be because City have developed themselves, and created a gap between their needs as a top 10 Champ club and League One.

Sorry for long post.

@Shtanley @Garycpos

 

 

Edited by Davefevs
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11 minutes ago, BobBobSuperBob said:


In fairness to LJ on this point 

I have to say , in his shoes , under pressure for results , I’m not sure I would tbh , or at least not in those selection moments

Playing Devils advocate

Is there many on here who would pick a young player over a senior player if you felt that you were less likely to pick up points 

Even Lloyd Kelly , the most promising we’ve had cost us points through inexperience - it’s a reality of young players learning

Quite simply , IMHO they have to be good enough or show the signs of imminently becoming so if you are going to play them - No freebie points at this level.

We are trying to ram a pathway into a plan whilst in a pretty brutal League

Ideally we would have commenced this plan years ago whilst in League One - and to a large degree we did out of necessity (And some decent talent) in Bobby , Joe etc but you wonder whether either would have had so many opportunities if they were coming through at 18/19 now , where we ciurrently sit

Like all fans there’s nothing better to see than a young player breaking through , but we can’t be playing players just because they are young

We have to actually decide what we are and what the realistic plan is 

Again in fairness to LJ , I felt that it was naive and unfair of SL or expect a top six , or improved finish if LJ was also expected to bring through young players at the same time 

I have to be fair that IMHO , in what I’ve seen of our younger choices I’m not sure I could criticise their amount of involvement

(My only thoughts of questionable decisions  would be I might have been tempted to bring Joe Morrell back , and play him , in January , and I found the use of Rodri off the bench above a chance to give Semenyo minutes, especially in games where we had the 3 points all but done,  baffling  )


Where Lee falls down IMHO is he firstly , he clearly jumped at the role and the ethos , but then sees that the realities of combining the pathway and promotion which he desperately craves for the Club , and himself 

Secondly he’s been allowed to divert from the pathway , (having the opinion that some of our younger choices arnt good enough , or at least ready ) and has been allowed to assemble a deep squad of established pros but is still not delivering at the top end.

I do think that if fans want top six finishes and a pathway , quite simply you have to have youngsters that are good enough
 

 

 

Great thought provoking OP Dave for a decent debate 👍

The above is not a response to your post , but as this thread commences m is what I just posted in the TM thread and probably throws in some of my thoughts regarding the pathway 
 

Good , well written post mate

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4 minutes ago, BobBobSuperBob said:

Great thought provoking OP Dave for a decent debate 👍

The above is not a response to your post , but as this thread commences m is what I just posted in the TM thread and probably throws in some of my thoughts regarding the pathway 
 

Good , well written post mate

Just seen, just replied 👍🏻

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7 minutes ago, Davefevs said:

Just seen, just replied 👍🏻

Not going to hijack your thread Dave or turn it into a conversation between us , but you make some very good points 

The one that immediately resonates with me is being more ruthless in our decisions on players 

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Taylor Moore based on this season performances should still be here, even captained us this year, why he’s at Blackpool I’m not sure, to give him experience? It’s daft, hoping he will be first choice next year, attitude spot on

Max will come back as number 2 I’m hoping, letting Niki go

Zak will be released 

Morrell and Walsh be kicking around first team next year, as will Sammy I hope

 Next lot of loans for next year hopefully be league ones, why do we keep players like Evans at Torquay? What is he 24 now? Send Opi Edwards to Cheltenham, Britton likes a night out and so many Others, where will they be

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Interesting post. I think there is a bit of a problem in thinking between two parts of the club, that collide/disconnect on the edge of the squad.
The club doesn't only buy for the first team, it doesn't only buy for the academy/U23 to develop into the first team, they also buy to sale for profit and aid self sustainability. This last one IMO , is where the problems come. If a player, for whatever reason, isn't in the first team , it makes sense to get him playing so he can build a reputation, and so increase value. At the same time we are trying to make a promotion push, and LJ has ended up with too much choice . Some of the players out on loan, I would hazard a guess , have been bought by the club to develop for profit (Adelukin , Bakinson possibly Walsh) and might not have been Johnsons choice, whatever he says.  Szmodics is a funny one , similar to Walsh, came highly thought of and quickly shipped out without any sort of run. I have complained about the muddled recruitment before, may be part of a far bigger problem.

Oh, and @Davefevs a little clip for you.

https://twitter.com/SkyBluesExtra/status/1232421174140973060?s=20

 

Edited by 1960maaan
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I think it's partly LJ being too afraid of having to give youngsters a squad place and partly poor recruitment. 

If we had a solid small core of top Championship players maybe LJ would feel more comfortable having our 4th choice CB, CM or ST an academy player.

His favourite buzzword is trust, he absolutely loves hanging youngsters out to dry if they make mistakes or underperform.

 

Morrell could've easily come back into the squad in January. Morrell, Massengo, Nagy, Smith, Rowe and Paterson is surely enough CM cover?

Moore could've easily stayed. Moore, Kalas, Baker and Williams is surely enough CB cover? 

Maybe Henriksen and Benkovic will show they're quality, they currently don't seem match fit or up to scratch with our "patterns of play".

 

I don't see the final stage in the pathway, unless you're a Kelly I don't see how you're going to make the final jump into the team until we trim the squad big time.

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I think that players are getting opportunities later than previously due to the longevity of the modern day player. Players now are playing late into their 30s even into their 40s, due to modern day science and players more aware of how to look after themselves. In a results driven business, it's easier for a coach to pick a 'name' rather than trust in youth. Managers nowadays don't often get the opportunity to blood players into the first team. So the modern day trend is to loan them out and hope they get get the experience and prove themselves capable to step up to the next level. 

Look at foden, guatdiola says he's the next Messi but he hardly gets a look in at Manchester City. 

Really good prem players even go out on loan and don't start for their parent club until they're in their 20s. 

We are not alone in our approach to loaning players out to get experience. it's just the way the modern game is. 

I just hope however that players who do prove themselves at lower league clubs are given an opportunity, ie, Moore, Morrell, Walsh to show what they can do for us before too long

 

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Really enjoyed that Dave. 

Im afraid it’s just another example of the absolute shambles that’s currently going on here. 

Missing: ‘Pathway’ Last seen in company with his good friend ‘Identity’ a long, long time ago. 
 

Edit: I didn’t write ‘absolute shambles’ and for this autocorrect I doff my cap to the administrators wholly. 👏 👏  👏 

Edited by Fordy62
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This is the modern game.  All clubs do it.  The question is whether we would have mounted a promotion challenge with a 24-player squad including Morrell, Walsh, Moore, Vyner, O’Leary and Bakinson.  I don’t think we would have, though it might have been enjoyable to watch them try.  At the start of the season only Zak (and possibly Max) had a strong case for inclusion and I know that the decision to send Zak out was taken at a very late stage (presumably when Perreira became available?) and he was very disappointed.  McInnes took him as a favour to us.

Morrell is completely untested at this level, while Walsh has previously disappointed.  Bakinson is in and out of the Plymouth team at the moment.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see them involved, but I suspect that OTIB would still go into meltdown every Saturday at 4.55 if we didn’t win.

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43 minutes ago, WSMRobin said:

I think that players are getting opportunities later than previously due to the longevity of the modern day player.

I think it might be more very few players bodies can cope physically at 18/19 these days (with the odd exception) at the top levels, so they break through a bit later.  All of my list are 22+ (apart from Antoine).  If they then have a 10-12 year career, that takes them beyond the old 30 and you’re fit for the knackers yard.

Players now are playing late into their 30s even into their 40s, due to modern day science and players more aware of how to look after themselves. In a results driven business, it's easier for a coach to pick a 'name' rather than trust in youth. Managers nowadays don't often get the opportunity to blood players into the first team. So the modern day trend is to loan them out and hope they get get the experience and prove themselves capable to step up to the next level.

In terms of the 6 I picked, they all have had enough games for City in the Champ (except Morrell who’s perversely gone on and got international experience!), so are beyond blooding imho.

Look at foden, guatdiola says he's the next Messi but he hardly gets a look in at Manchester City.

But he also hasn’t loaned him out either, because Pep thinks / knows he’s the best person / coach to develop him, and alongside the best players too.

Really good prem players even go out on loan and don't start for their parent club until they're in their 20s. 

We are not alone in our approach to loaning players out to get experience. it's just the way the modern game is.

Agree, was thinking of making the title “Championship Chelsea” when I started writing it, but didn’t want to bring the financial side into it....I write too much on that side!!

I just hope however that players who do prove themselves at lower league clubs are given an opportunity, ie, Moore, Morrell, Walsh to show what they can do for us before too long

 

Good points though.

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