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The Youth of Today


ExiledAjax
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A little bit of positivity, away from the clamour to change everything and anything about the Club.

Looking at the team last night once more, is it not a good thing to see 3 academy products (O'Leary, Vyner, Towler) in the starting line up, with a further 2 on the bench (Pearson and Bell)? In addition we have Moore, Massengo, Bakinson and Semenyo who aren't what I would class as academy products but I believe count as "home-grown" or "club-developed" or whatever the current terms is for them. On the whole these young men have had decent seasons. Good games and bad games of course, but broadly they've been a success when given their chance.

Image

Yesterday we had 9 of the match day squad comprised of academy or other young players, and to me that really represents a step forward. As a comparison here's the match day squad from a year ago, Derby in the league on 12 Feb 2020. Correct me if I am wrong but the sole academy representative is sub-goalie Wollacott. This change may in some part be down to injury, and so forced, but it is a positive thing to see nonethless.

image.thumb.png.8b2c2628b370d18286a0367bbe32203b.png

The rights and wrongs of continuing to employ Holden, Ashton and others are being debated well and at length on many other threads. I'll therefore make a no doubt futile plea to try and keep this thread clear of too much of that discussion. 

It would be more interesting to discuss whether this is a step forward, or whether it is simply a product of necessity caused by injury. When do we reach the point of enough academy players without going overboard and just having a team of kids?

Edited by ExiledAjax
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The injuries have clearly led to this situation but once these lads get 10-20 games under their belt at this level it is clearly going to help us. The injuries have simply allowed us to "fast track" the process and if we do decide to send a few of them out next season to get another 30 or so games we should be looking at League 1 and not Bath City for example which is a great situation to be in at this stage of their development. Certainly nothing to moan about on that front.

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Towler's performance raises the interesting point of what are u23's players who are brimming with confidence capable of if they're given 90 minutes? Bell has looked bright in his cameos but hasn't had the chance for a shot yet, Britton has 8 in 6 for the u23's, Conway 4 in his last 2 after something like 8 in 11 at Bath and you seemingly have other players putting in good performances as well. All it takes is to discover 1 or 2 who can make the standard to be of great benefit to the 1st team.

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3 minutes ago, Numero Uno said:

The injuries have clearly led to this situation but once these lads get 10-20 games under their belt at this level it is clearly going to help us. The injuries have simply allowed us to "fast track" the process and if we do decide to send a few of them out next season to get another 30 or so games we should be looking at League 1 and not Bath City for example which is a great situation to be in at this stage of their development. Certainly nothing to moan about on that front.

Agreed. From what we've seen this season I'm not sure we currently have another Lloyd Kelly or Joe Bryan in this bunch, but there's certainly some nascent Championship players there. 

1 minute ago, Lrrr said:

Towler's performance raises the interesting point of what are u23's players who are brimming with confidence capable of if they're given 90 minutes? Bell has looked bright in his cameos but hasn't had the chance for a shot yet, Britton has 8 in 6 for the u23's, Conway 4 in his last 2 after something like 8 in 11 at Bath and you seemingly have other players putting in good performances as well. All it takes is to discover 1 or 2 who can make the standard to be of great benefit to the 1st team.

Again I agree that Bell in particular seems to have had the carrot dangled in front of him for too long without being given a fair chance. But that's part of my question - if you switch Bell into the starting XI last night, perhaps in place of Wells, then are you at the point of having too much youth in the team?

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2 minutes ago, SecretSam said:

Given our position and how dire the 'experienced' players have been, why not just throw the kids in? Fans will cut them some slack and there's no pressure.

Because we might get battered and that will shatter their confidence. More sensible to introduce them as subs and slowly build them up.

Also we have a chance of play offs (mathematically) and also a small chance of going down so a bit risky either way to go full on youth.

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1 minute ago, ExiledAjax said:

Agreed. From what we've seen this season I'm not sure we currently have another Lloyd Kelly or Joe Bryan in this bunch, but there's certainly some nascent Championship players there. 

Again I agree that Bell in particular seems to have had the carrot dangled in front of him for too long without being given a fair chance. But that's part of my question - if you switch Bell into the starting XI last night, perhaps in place of Wells, then are you at the point of having too much youth in the team?

You can have too much youth in your team, definitely. Pro footballers are winners and if kicking a bunch of young kids up in the air guarantees them a nice, easy 90 minutes and a juicy win bonus then they won't hesitate to do it. They might even apologise AFTER 94 MINUTES but will happily walk off with the three points!! So, yes, you do need balance in there unless you have a Man Utd style Class of 92 bunch all coming together at the same time and even they needed a few games to get up to speed.

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2 minutes ago, Numero Uno said:

You can have too much youth in your team, definitely. Pro footballers are winners and if kicking a bunch of young kids up in the air guarantees them a nice, easy 90 minutes and a juicy win bonus then they won't hesitate to do it. They might even apologise AFTER 94 MINUTES but will happily walk off with the three points!! So, yes, you do need balance in there unless you have a Man Utd style Class of 92 bunch all coming together at the same time and even they needed a few games to get up to speed.

Yep, and as positive as I might be about the young lads...it's nowhere near Class of '92 stuff (plus we've not got Ferguson marshalling them).

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7 minutes ago, ExiledAjax said:

Again I agree that Bell in particular seems to have had the carrot dangled in front of him for too long without being given a fair chance. But that's part of my question - if you switch Bell into the starting XI last night, perhaps in place of Wells, then are you at the point of having too much youth in the team?

Perhaps but you need to weigh performance output as well, if the experienced player isn't offering a great deal at the moment is it actually a drop in performance on the pitch?

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Just now, where's the joy said:

Who on earth wants to watch Wells unable to trap a ball or hold the line, surely Bell cant be any worse? 

This current team has no pace, we need speed

And play the youngsters and we will find the next Rob Newman

Still got to have some balance though otherwise they will get obliterated. In other words you can play 2 or 3 at once but play 6 and you are literally handing the game to the opposition on a plate. Tactically and especially physically it's too much.

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Agreed. Great to see.

Worth saying it was a cup game and we did similar with LJ.

But generally if Dasilva, Rowe and COD were fit...Towler might not be near the squad. Add Pring too.

If Walsh, Williams, Pato and Weimann had been fit all season, we might have seen less of Semenyo, Bakinson and Vyner (in midfield)

Likewise, Baker, Kalas and Mawson, less of Moore and Vyner initially.

I’d also add our league first 11 average age is 27 odd, one of the highest in the division, despite these injuries, and probably one of our highest for some time I’d guess.

So despite seeing some of these academy products, the minutes have been relatively low, especially in the league, despite massive injuries. Also worth noting the trend of recent signings have been up in age, quite a lot. 
 

So a bit of a complex picture.
 

 

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1 minute ago, Alessandro said:

we did similar with LJ.

Thing is I'm not sure we did. This is the line up for our 3rd round tie last season. Massengo and Moore start, Semenyo benched, but not a single academy lad. ****ing Gilmartin on the bench for gods sake (think O'Leary was on loan and maybe Wollacott injured but still). Same with the League Cup against QPR last season. 2018/19, 5th round v Wolves. Only Morrell in the starting XI, and he got subbed at half time. Kelly and O'Leary were on the bench and stayed there for the whole game. Johnson would play the kids in the end-of-season dead rubbers, but he was reluctant to put them out in cup games.

Shrewsbury squad:

image.png.202d1b254e91e2a507aaf6fd6e3b2fab.png

QPR:

image.thumb.png.349287253696949896dbd08446a20920.png

 

6 minutes ago, Shtanley said:

Partly down to injuries, partly down to the club wanting to change their approach and partly down to Johnson not being here anymore.

You must be happy though. For all the Lansbury/Brunt/Mawson blockers we are at least getting to see some young Bristolians turn out for us.

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9 minutes ago, Alessandro said:

I’d also add our league first 11 average age is 27 odd, one of the highest in the division, despite these injuries, and probably one of our highest for some time I’d guess.

 

This is true. It's crept up as Pato, Fam, Bentley, Kalas have aged a bit. But then again, a couple of years ago when the average age was down at high 25s or 26, everyone was clamouring for some experience. It's definitely all about balance and I'm just wondering if we are currently in a bit of a sweet spot in that respect (actual performances and results aside).

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2 minutes ago, ExiledAjax said:

You must be happy though. For all the Lansbury/Brunt/Mawson blockers we are at least getting to see some young Bristolians turn out for us.

The young uns' getting a chance is certainly the highlight of the season, almost making up for the dull football. 

Also, if anyone is creating value in our recruitment right now it's Tinnion. Not MA!

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2 minutes ago, Shtanley said:

The young uns' getting a chance is certainly the highlight of the season, almost making up for the dull football. 

Also, if anyone is creating value in our recruitment right now it's Tinnion. Not MA!

I look forward to the new "Water Fountain of Youth" section on the pod.

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18 minutes ago, ExiledAjax said:

Thing is I'm not sure we did. This is the line up for our 3rd round tie last season. Massengo and Moore start, Semenyo benched, but not a single academy lad. ****ing Gilmartin on the bench for gods sake (think O'Leary was on loan and maybe Wollacott injured but still). Same with the League Cup against QPR last season. 2018/19, 5th round v Wolves. Only Morrell in the starting XI, and he got subbed at half time. Kelly and O'Leary were on the bench and stayed there for the whole game. Johnson would play the kids in the end-of-season dead rubbers, but he was reluctant to put them out in cup games.

Shrewsbury squad:

image.png.202d1b254e91e2a507aaf6fd6e3b2fab.png

QPR:

image.thumb.png.349287253696949896dbd08446a20920.png

 

You must be happy though. For all the Lansbury/Brunt/Mawson blockers we are at least getting to see some young Bristolians turn out for us.

Well further back in 2017, when we beat Palace 4-1 for example, we had Bryan in the team and Kelly, Vyner and Bakinson on the bench.

But again, I’ll go back to my point that I simply don’t believe we’d have seen so many had Dasilva, Baker, Rowe, Walsh, Weimann, Sess, COD, Martin been available (that’s almost a full 11) and previously Pato, Mawson, Kalas and Williams.

One or two, yes. Quite so many, no way. IMO.

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23 minutes ago, ExiledAjax said:

This is true. It's crept up as Pato, Fam, Bentley, Kalas have aged a bit. But then again, a couple of years ago when the average age was down at high 25s or 26, everyone was clamouring for some experience. It's definitely all about balance and I'm just wondering if we are currently in a bit of a sweet spot in that respect (actual performances and results aside).

Not sure there is a sweet spot TBH? The younger teams are on the whole, doing better than the older ones this season in the championship - looking specifically at the two oldest being the bottom 2 and the top 7 or so have 4 of the top 6.
 

Club Squad Players used Average age
Barnsley FC Barnsley FC 24 27 23.6
Brentford FC Brentford FC 25 27 24.3
Coventry City Coventry City 29 27 24.5
Reading FC Reading FC 23 24 24.8
Blackburn Rovers Blackburn Rovers 30 32 24.9
Middlesbrough FC Middlesbrough FC 24 25 25.3
Swansea City Swansea City 28 25 25.3
Huddersfield Town Huddersfield Town 29 33 25.4
AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth 24 28 25.6
Derby County Derby County 24 33 25.8
Queens Park Rangers Queens Park Rangers 26 25 25.8
Norwich City Norwich City 32 30 25.9
Rotherham United Rotherham United 27 26 26.1
Stoke City Stoke City 28 30 26.2
Watford FC Watford FC 26 28 26.2
Preston North End Preston North End 31 32 26.5
Bristol City Bristol City 32 29 26.6
Luton Town Luton Town 32 25 26.7
Nottingham Forest Nottingham Forest 30 31 27.0
Sheffield Wednesday Sheffield Wednesday 35 29 27.1
Cardiff City Cardiff City 25 26 27.2
Millwall FC Millwall FC 22 25 27.5
Wycombe Wanderers Wycombe Wanderers 30 27 27.5
Birmingham City Birmingham City 29 28 27.8
Edited by Alessandro
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4 minutes ago, Alessandro said:

Well further back in 2017, when we beat Palace 4-1 for example, we had Bryan in the team and Kelly, Vyner and Bakinson on the bench.

But again, I’ll go back to my point that I simply don’t believe we’d have seen so many had Dasilva, Baker, Rowe, Walsh, Weimann, Sess, COD, Martin been available (that’s almost a full 11) and previously Pato, Mawson, Kalas and Williams.

One or two, yes. Quite so many, no way. IMO.

Yeh, it's absolutely the case that the injuries have forced Holden's hand, I totally accept that. You're also right that earlier in his time LJ was more prone to playing kids. Both fair and correct points.

Interesting table on the average age of various squads, I'd not looked at that for this season. Based on that you're right that this season at least it looks like younger squads are performing better than older ones.

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1 hour ago, ExiledAjax said:

A little bit of positivity, away from the clamour to change everything and anything about the Club.

Looking at the team last night once more, is it not a good thing to see 3 academy products (O'Leary, Vyner, Towler) in the starting line up, with a further 2 on the bench (Pearson and Bell)? In addition we have Moore, Massengo, Bakinson and Semenyo who aren't what I would class as academy products but I believe count as "home-grown" or "club-developed" or whatever the current terms is for them. On the whole these young men have had decent seasons. Good games and bad games of course, but broadly they've been a success when given their chance.

Image

Yesterday we had 9 of the match day squad comprised of academy or other young players, and to me that really represents a step forward. As a comparison here's the match day squad from a year ago, Derby in the league on 12 Feb 2020. Correct me if I am wrong but the sole academy representative is sub-goalie Wollacott. This change may in some part be down to injury, and so forced, but it is a positive thing to see nonethless.

image.thumb.png.8b2c2628b370d18286a0367bbe32203b.png

The rights and wrongs of continuing to employ Holden, Ashton and others are being debated well and at length on many other threads. I'll therefore make a no doubt futile plea to try and keep this thread clear of too much of that discussion. 

It would be more interesting to discuss whether this is a step forward, or whether it is simply a product of necessity caused by injury. When do we reach the point of enough academy players without going overboard and just having a team of kids?

 

I know what you're saying but... 

Rightly or wrongly, we are a club that aspires to reach the Playoffs - and beyond.

Rightly or wrongly, we are a club that sacks Coaches for failing to deliver on this.

With that, and that alone in mind, I know which match day squad is more likely to succeed.

And it's not last night's. 

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1 hour ago, ExiledAjax said:

 

It would be more interesting to discuss whether this is a step forward, or whether it is simply a product of necessity caused by injury. 

Probably a mix of both. I don't see it as a bad thing TBH.

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1 hour ago, Alessandro said:

Whats also interesting, is we keep on about our injuries and how we either having to keep on changing or not able to change, depending which argument is being made, but when you look at the number of players used 29, we are middle of the pack

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It's a definite positive from this season. Provided we don't throw in too many at once, the experience should stand them in good stead.

Earlier this season I was focusing mainly on Vyner, Bakinson and Semenyo- then latterly Massengo has been performing well (not from our academy I know but still only 19). O'Leary in the Cup games, been okay and Moore last night.

They're all under 25 I think? Now Towler too, has to start Saturday IMO. 

Question whether I'd throw in Pearson or Bell at this stage- perhaps if the season fizzles out to midtable nothingness, a few games could be beneficial 

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7 minutes ago, sh1t_ref_again said:

Whats also interesting, is we keep on about our injuries and how we either having to keep on changing or not able to change, depending which argument is being made, but when you look at the number of players used 29, we are middle of the pack

Yes I saw that. Not sure how relevant it is, that number doesn’t take away from our chronically high number of injuries this season...probably more a reflection that our squad, excluding the U23’s is about average. I.E had we not had the injuries we probably wouldn’t have seen Edwards, Bell and Towler. Making 26 + Walsh and Baker = 28 - which is still probably average. 

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2 hours ago, ExiledAjax said:

Looking at the team last night once more, is it not a good thing to see 3 academy products (O'Leary, Vyner, Towler) in the starting line up, with a further 2 on the bench (Pearson and Bell)? In addition we have Moore, Massengo, Bakinson and Semenyo who aren't what I would class as academy products but I believe count as "home-grown" or "club-developed" or whatever the current terms is for them. On the whole these young men have had decent seasons. Good games and bad games of course, but broadly they've been a success when given their chance.

 

Yesterday we had 9 of the match day squad comprised of academy or other young players, and to me that really represents a step forward. As a comparison here's the match day squad from a year ago, Derby in the league on 12 Feb 2020. Correct me if I am wrong but the sole academy representative is sub-goalie Wollacott. This change may in some part be down to injury, and so forced, but it is a positive thing to see nonethless.

Let's be brutally honest, the majority of them are only around the squad due to injuries not due to performaces

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Excellent post Ajax. It’s fantastic to look at the line up and say 3 starters were youth products with more on the bench. Throw in Semenyo, Bakinson et al and it’s very pleasing. 
 

Some may debate the merits of loaning out so many youngsters but it has benefit-look at O’Leary and Vyner’s many loan spells. If you’re a young player at the club you’re going to see that being sent away for a 6-12 month period could, with graft, lead to a first team spot. 
 

I’ll play devils advocate here and say that Bell is perhaps being held back ready for next season when we may well be without Fammy or Nicking Wage...I mean Nakhi Wells.

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7 minutes ago, phantom said:

Let's be brutally honest, the majority of them are only around the squad due to injuries not due to performaces

Vyner, Moore, Bakinson and Semenyo all got chances fairly early tbh. Some proved good enough early enough to stay in consideration, though injuries have definitely played a role too. Maybe was part of Holden's remit?

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It's encouraging to see the youth coming into the team, as I do believe if we were to go up and have a chance of staying there it is with a young team developing together with experience around them. Although I do get concerned with the number of 30 year old plus players we seem to be bringing in, as they cannot be the future of the club in terms of playing or re-sale

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