Transfer Window Make Or Break For Academy?
So the transfer window is open, and is greeted with the usual excitement and anticipation that it is every season. But I feel this transfer window is the most important yet for our youth development.
As we know our academy is one of the best in the country and is starting to produce some good products. In several games last season we had seven players on the pitch that were all home grown. The circumstances surrounding it could have been better, as some of it was down to injuries, but it gave us what hopefully is a sign of what maybe to come.
We now have a manager who has a track record of maximising player potential and for the first time I think will try to make a real effort to push these guys on. I feel that Houllier would have been good for them, but ultimately that was not to be, it seemed that O`Neil viewed it as a way of building transfer pots and how McLeish would have developed them is a debate in itself.
So let`s look at some of the current crop who have made appearances:
Albrighton - his difficult 2nd season, sadly very disappointing after his first season showed such promise, he had distractions off the field as well with the birth of his daughter, hopefully he will be more settled now, this is a very big season for him in my opinion. Confidence needs to be built to see the best from him.
Bannan - Last season he was the definition of inconsistency, at times he displays an almost Iniesta type of quality, playing nice short passes with a good eye for a penetrating through ball. Others he tries too hard, not looking where he`s passing, trying the near impossible with his shooting and his long balls. Some say he`s not good enough, I think he could be electric. The thing he needs to learn more than anything is his positional play, get in the right places with time on the ball and he really could light it up.
Gardner - Probably the player who has arrived with the most amount of promise recently, having seen him play for the reserves on more than a few occasions before he broke through I can say that he has the lot, just not the experience. I felt last season that he was played in a more defensive role than he is used to or comfortable with, give him free reign on the park and he could run a game in the near future, I really feel that when this guy gets a goal his confidence will explode and he will be cooking
Weimann - Broke through towards the end of last season and didn`t disappoint, salvaging a win against Fulham and a wonder strike against Stoke you get the sense that this lad is just getting started. A different type of striker to Bent I think that if he continues to develop he could be invaluable.
Delfouneso - This really is the last chance saloon for him to be honest. He`s been on the fringes for too long, and it`s a shame because he does have talent and when he`s been up for it he has looked pretty handy. I`ve heard a coach say 'If he actually listened he could be excellent. Well he could find himself listening to someone else if he doesn`t show what he is capable of this season.
Carruthers - Again someone I have mostly seen during reserve games. A attacking midfielder who gives many attacking options, he`s quick exciting and intelligent. He actually walked out on Arsenal to come to us and was their captain at the time, they were most upset. Made his debut last season at Anfield toward the end of the game, but in that short debut he turned the England Captain inside out, should have been awarded a penalty and got booked for informing the referee of his mistake, this guy excites me!
Herd - For me this guy was player of the season last year. Strong and determined his work rate is immense, he reminds me of Milner. He developed leaps and bounds last year and is versatile to boot. A potential Captain in my eyes.
Clark - He really didn`t get enough game time last season, which has undoubtedly held him back, if he and Nathan Baker can carry their partnership from the reserves through to the first team we could be reaping the rewards for years to come.
We have some very gifted prospects mentioned there and that`s not including the next crop already starting to turn heads in Daniel Johnson, Jack Grealsih and Graham Burke.
A few season ago the club won the Peace Cup using most of these players, sadly after that they were not allowed to progress. Let`s remember that most of these players have won the reserve league a couple of time, they have winning attitude and habit.
This transfer window is big for most of these players as for some it will define their own development. Will they get game time? Will they be moved on?
I think Lambert can and will develop the players we have coming through but their will undoubtedly be casualties. Some won`t fit in; some sadly won`t make the grade. But the youngsters are important to the club, the ambition being to only have to buy once or twice a season and those signings to be of some real quality.
It will take time and will not be an overnight instant success, but I look forward to quiet transfer windows..........
It means we are doing something right!
Thanks for reading!
Proud to be a Villan