Author Topic: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available  (Read 21755 times)

royhendo

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The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« on: November 13, 2010, 11:43:38 PM »
It's unlikely that those in football circles will know the name "Margaret Scott Brown". In fact, it's unlikely that many people outside of Margaret Scott Brown's own circles will know the name "Margaret Scott Brown". But having enjoyed ten minutes of her time last Saturday morning, I got the feeling that they should. People in general that is. And more specifically, people in football.

Mrs Scott Brown is a music teacher. She works at Dundee High School. And you can be pretty certain that there are many other teachers like her throughout the country. People who exude dedication to their craft - who are deeply immersed in the technical and vocational aspects of their career. But what's maybe underappreciated is how certain aspects of their expertise, if 'bottled' and transferred to other teaching and coaching disciplines, might provide the kind of 'secret sauce' that makes a crucial difference. The key to genuine competitive advantage.

The chance encounter took place in central Dundee. I was walking with my wife and young twins when we encountered a school band, playing in the open air, and the sound was nothing short of breathtaking. And me being prone to unsolicited interrogation, I approached the lady who seemed to be responsible for the group, and, well, bugged her.

It turned out that this group of kids had been in her and her colleagues' charge since the age of 5. And while you'd expect that teachers spend most of their working lives engaged in crowd control and social work, it quickly emerged that something was different about this lady's approach.

We work from the top down, then bottom up
Far from leaving things to chance and relying on the odd unexpected talent to emerge from the ranks, it seems things are far more calculated under the tutilege of this particular group. You could see it as simply an office to turn up at five days a week, reacting to events as they unfold. But it's clear these people see things differently. They see themselves as managing a production line of talent, with each year bringing a new intake at grass roots level, and each year churning out a group of finished articles, ready to make their way in life as exceptional musicians, audio engineers, or some combination of the two.

It seems they start out by setting a vision, with everything slotting into place from there. Mrs Scott Brown made it clear that they started out making sure they had a clear idea of what they wanted to achieve with the kids. After all, in their eyes, what they're managing is a musical production line. Their 'organisation' has a clear and universally accepted mission. They know exactly the kind of musicians they want to produce, the mix of skills they want to equip each child with before they leave, and the values and character they want to instil along the way. Listening to her talk, you felt as if you were listening to a mission statement - a manifesto, in fact. And the one thing that kept springing to mind was the parallel with Barcelona's youth system, housed at La Masia.

With the vision clearly defined and all staff buying into it unreservedly, what comes next? Well, they work from the top down. With the clear picture of the general level they want to achieve with each kid, they set about putting the foundations in place, with general principles introduced at every phase of the child's development, informed by factors you maybe wouldn't expect in a school music department.

"We start out by introducing the youngest kids to the idea of music with movement and rhythm". The idea at this stage is to build in a love for the playful aspect of what they're learning, without introducing too much of a technical nature. But that's not to say young kids are held back from technical challenges. Some staff, in their own time, are training in what's known as The Suzuki Method. This involves a long-term intensive training syllabus that's akin to something from the martial arts tradition. Again, the aim is producing children with the highest level of ability, but baked into that aim is the ideal of building the right character within the children.

The root belief of this approach? That all kids are capable of attaining the highest level. No kids are excluded at the outset - that flies in the face of their philosophy.

The key tenets include:

  • Immersing the children in the musical community generally
  • Building a support structure with other children
  • Experiencing and analysing the performance of the very best in their profession
  • Avoidance of aptitude tests and 'auditions' in the learning phase - they 'play' 
  • Children learn by ear - only later do they learn to read sheet music
  • Learning from as young an age as possible (with scaled down instruments to fit the phsyique of small children)
  • Insistence on the highest quality of coaching and the highest professional standards among coaches - but note - a degree is not required
  • Constant return to the basic repertoire - even when the kid becomes more advanced (both individually and within groups)
  • Encouragement of the right mentality and group solidarity between the kids.


As well as bringing to mind footage and stories of the Barcelona Academy system, with the tight bonds between the children who attended there, the strong spiritual and Catalan ethos that pervades their work, the emphasis on working as a collective, and the refusal to judge children on first impressions or on perceived physical limitations (think Iniesta - think Messi), the approach this method promotes is the suspension of judgement. And it's that which strikes chords when you consider the footballing buzzword at the moment. The word that's been casually thrown about since the arrival of John Henry and NESV as the new owners of Liverpool Football Club. "Moneyball".

The Suzuki method's founder, as stated in the  Wikipedia entry for the method, "believed that teachers who test for musical aptitude before taking students, or teachers who look only for "talented" students, are limiting themselves to people who have already started their music education."

When you read reports on the early development of both Messi and Iniesta, it's clear that without the suspension of judgement on their physical attributes, they might not have developed into the footballers they are - footballers that the whole world enjoy. By focussing on their creativity, vision, and technical qualities instead, Barcelona allowed themselves the space to benefit from the unexpected. Why judge a child before we know what they're really capable of? Or how they'll turn out physically, mentally and emotionally?

"Babe Ruth was a fat piece of shit"
Moneyball's approach was to eschew accepted convention in an established sport and accept players like Jeremy "The Badger" Brown. Traditional scouting and assessments methods excluded people like him from the top levels of the game. The Scouting Director for the team who eventually drafted him, the Oakland A's, said "It's not a pretty body... This guy's a great baseball player trapped in a bad body." But then as one of his team mates later replied in a team talk: "Babe Ruth was a fat piece of shit".

Sure, Andres Iniesta was a little lad who pined for his parents every day he was away from them, but did his pale complexion and frail physique lead the staff at the club to doubt his chances of a future at the club? The response chimes with The Suzuki Method. Guardiola, having seen him himself while Iniesta was 14, commented "he reads the game better than me". But then the things the coaching staff at Barca list ahead of other criteria are "how well does he read the game", along with "does he have vision". Iniesta comments on his tutilege at the club: " "I play like I always did. At Barcelona you learn loads but it comes out in an improvised way... You learn to be sharper, cleverer... Small players learn to be intuitive, to anticipate, to protect the ball. A guy who weighs 90 kilos doesn't move like one who weighs 60. In the playground I always played against much bigger kids and I always wanted the ball. Without it, I feel lost."

That differs from the qualities, we're led to believe, that the English footballing establishment has come to value. It may now be something of a cliche, but the football we're served up week upon week bears out its truth. Save for the occasional exception, either on a club-wide level or an individual level (where the talent is exceptional), first on the list tend to be the physical qualities. Can he dominate space? Is he powerful? Is he fast? Does he have stamina? Is he aggressive? And thus, instead of the beautiful game, we bake the opposite emphasis into the game's very roots. And we don't only do it at individual club level - we do it on an institutionalised basis through our coaching establishment. People like Trevor Brooking have fought long and hard to try and change these things. But they're fighting against generations of accepted wisdom and convention. It's a stubborn Ox to shift.

Only the dead fish swim with the stream
Given a background of endemic and rigid convention throughout the game, baked into its very grass roots at source, the creative strategist recognises fertile ground for the rule breaker. If someone can genuinely challenge the paradigm and make that alternative approach work, they'll have stolen a march on their competitors that they'll benefit from for a generation or more.

Arguably that's already the case with Arsenal, who under Wenger's stewardship have implemented something like the kind of Academy approach seen at Barcelona - at least in terms of the footballing ethos at the club. But have they implemented it successfully? Does their system generate a production line of unusually shaped footballing minds that wow the footballing world? It's open to debate. In Wilshere they clearly produced a gem. But beyond that, can we really say their output is of genuine world class quality?

Some might say the nut has yet to be cracked in our domestic game. We do, however, have a successful precedent. Some clubs, most notably Liverpool, Manchester United and Celtic, 'stand for' a certain brand of football. People, at least of a certain generation, associate these clubs' names with the style of football they tended to generate - and not on a one-off basis - in a period of dynastic succession - a footballing 'production line'.

Which leads us back to Mrs Scott Brown, and to her colleagues' approach. Again, to quote The Suzuki Method: "Just as every child is expected to learn their native language, Suzuki expected every child to be able to learn to play music well when they were surrounded with a musical environment from infancy."

It's this approach which informs their 'coaching'. Everything in their syllabus aims, for each child:

  • To build their musical capacity (attention, dexterity, awareness of others and their role in the collective, their sensory acuity, and so forth)
  • To build the quality of their reference group (with competitiveness flowing from it in a positive way, rather than imposed by external examination)
  • To tailor their specialism to their strengths (physical limitations, special aptitudes, preferences and interests)
  • To build their character, attitude to constructive criticism, empathy and solidarity for others, and mental strength.


With that approach baked in, the 'coaches' can take a step back as is their planned schedule and assess the group as a whole, both within single years and across years. They can think more creatively in terms of balance and blend. How the components might work together to produce something beautiful, and to challenge and encourage the children to develop their own ideas.

In later years, as these qualities are reinforced and become automatic, the children are allowed to explore the more technical and creative aspects of their craft, with audio engineering facilities made available, and children encouraged (using Sebalius software) to arrange, compose and conduct pieces of their own, for performance both by individuals and by groups, from small bands to full-sized orchestral pieces performed in concert halls.

It makes you wonder.

"The biggest challenge is getting time with the children"
If you've watched documentaries on the state of youth development in this country, such as the BBC's recent "Can England Win The Next World Cup", the message we repeatedly hear is that the coaches are hamstrung by the inability to ensure the right quality and quantity of time with their students. This is echoed by Mrs Scott Brown. She emphasised that the biggest challenge was getting time with the children, and when that time was available, ensuring the right quality and intensity of focus.

Gary Lineker's introduction to that program stated that "something is very wrong". But again, this is open to debate. In cosmetic terms, all that's needed are tweaks. We need to somehow ensure the syllabus is correct, that the right tone is set for the game from root to fruit and back again - the style of football this nation will stand for - and that time and intensity and the right standard of coaching stafff are put at the disposal of the available talent across the country. But to do that, while it sounds straightforward, takes the kind of planning and funding and unified acceptance that isn't currently possible. Vested interests are entrenched enough that people are reluctant to make changes unless it's absolutely necessary. People aren't convinced that change is needed - and you can't escape from prison until you realise you're behind bars.

So again, the creative strategist should, you'd think, see this as fertile ground for asserting a competitive advantage. Entrenched convention, and a reluctance to budge. In the context of looming financial doping regulations and stringent Academy catchment rules, the time is ripe for the creative strategic thinker to steal a march on their competition. But to do so would take insight, vision, commitment and determination to stick with the blueprint through good times and bad. We talk about Barcelona now as if the magic was down to some combination of clever transfer dealings (Ronaldinho et al), Rijkaard, and Guardiola. But the fact is their success is founded on their own youth system. Sure, they have an unfairly large catchment area when compared to your average Premier League club in the North West of England - there are only so many thousand kids available to these clubs, whereas Barca has a massively larger catchment at its disposal - but that's no reason to be defeatist. The competing Academies tend to follow the tried and tested methods. Sure, they might bring in Sports Scientists and Nutritionists, and they might have DVD analysis and prozone. But do they genuinely follow a footballing blueprint? One that's founded on mutual trust and a commitment to accepting risk? To valuing the footballing brain ahead of the footballing brawn? You have to say they don't. And that's where the opportunity lies.

Liverpool are in a unique position in this regard. One of the few remaining positives their fans can take from the last few years under the ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett was the recruitment by Rafa Benitez of two former senior and central staff of the Barcelona Academy set up. Pep Segura took on a directorial role. Rodolpho Borell took on a hands on coaching role with the oldest Academy groups. Their role was to implement a revised approach to the youth development work at the club. That bodes well, and the club, if it's wise, will commit to that decision and build on it. Build on it to the extent that it echoes throughout every aspect of the club.

Like Mrs Scott Brown's Music Department, the Academy, and the club as a whole, needs a clear vision of what it stands for. With that in place, the scope opens up for creativity within those established guidelines. So a midfielder is a little heavy - haven't Liverpool had a big lad do well in that position before? So the keeper is a little eccentric and won't stick on his line - haven't they already had a 'character' in that role before? With the clear vision in place, and the staff and boardroom's collective buy-in to its tenets, it becomes possible to build a blend, and to accomodate the little 'nuances' in individuals' make up. So each player isn't the full finsihed article in all departments? So what? It's the collective output that matters. It's that approach that allows Barcelona's players to trust those in their rank who are less technically gifted with the ball. Last season we saw carles Puyol in the inside left channel in a key home game deliver an incisive one-touch assist in a crunch game. The guy is no more gifted in technical terms than your average centre half. But they trust him with the ball, and he does the same. They have a collective approach - a solidarity - and it brings out more than the sum of their parts. Or it has done, and pretty consistently now for several years, generating some of the most entertaining and dramatic football any of us have ever seen.

One only has to read "The Secret Diary of a Liverpool Scout" to understand that, until recently, the 'footballing brains ahead of footballing brawn' ethos was uppermost in the Liverpool scouting department's minds. It's that approach, and the suspension of judgement on the more 'traditionally' valued qualities that will yield the kind of value we need to find, both in the transfer market, and in our youth development.

Coupled with that, we need to bake in a vision for the club that's applied at all levels, from the youngest children to the senior squad to the tea lady. It's only in that context, with everyone pulling in the same direction, that correct, congruent decisions will be made, and consistent value will be achieved.

So you hope that those tasked with strategic decisions at the club bear these things in mind in the near future. It would be a solution that resonates with the club's history and culture, with the expectations of its fans, and with the benefit of the game in this country. It would also provide the chance to establish genuine competitive advantage - the kind that only long-term commitment, planning, and investment can bring.

Is it so hard to achieve? Well, yes. It takes vision, and peculiar skills. But one brief chat in a city street reveals that those skills exist within this country - you just have to be crafty to figure out who has them. Who churns out gifted kids on a regular basis? Whose work 'fits' with our way of doing things? Can we get them in and pick their brains? Can we have them review our plans and advise on potential pitfalls?

It's a thought. If we're deprived of Mansour-style resource, we might as well think a little smarter than they do.

© royhendo 2010
« Last Edit: November 15, 2010, 01:30:05 PM by Rushian »

Online Gnurglan

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2010, 12:05:56 AM »
Find myself agreeing with her.

But it wasn't Barca I thought of. It was Shanks & Co and their focus on the pass and move. Learn the fundamentals of the game. Over and over again. Until it's natural.

A long one, but well worth the read.

        * * * * * *


"The key isn't the system itself, but how the players adapt on the pitch. It doesn't matter if it's 4-3-3 or 4-4-2, it's the role of the players that counts." Rafa Benitez

Offline Dam Sodd

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2010, 12:07:59 AM »
Quality read
Cool down and play

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2010, 12:09:41 AM »
Roy:

A phenomenal read, one that should be a required part of the RAWK semester syllabus...

This is an accurate distillation of one of the themes of Moneyball; it's not really sabremetrics that is the point to Billy Beane's approach, and that of others like him including John Henry, not the Steel Driving Man version.  Statistical analysis is only relevant in that doing so provides a competitive advantage for those who adopt a given approach in contrast to those who refuse to do so.  In other words, your argument appears to be something along the lines of: an opportunity exists to adopt a youth academy mentality that emphasizes ability on the ball as its primary concern, in direct contrast to the general run of academies in England which focus first and almost entirely on athleticism.

One might, if one were interested in playing devil's advocate, raise the slightly troublesome contention that Barcelona's success at La Masia might represent a statistical outlier rather than firm evidence that an approach dedicated solely to ability on the ball is a viable academy concept.  Other than Arsenal, are there any other notable, successful  academies dedicated to ability-plus football?  Dario Gradi at Crewe, perhaps?

Perhaps Liverpool might become firmer statistical ground for such a philosophy...  :wave
Since haste quite Schorsch, but Liverpool are genuine fight pigs...

royhendo

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2010, 12:13:21 AM »
"Yonder lies a Steel Drivin' Man, Lord Lord" ;D

Gnurgan - yup - that was the point at the end - in following that line, you'd end up at our heritage anyway. I ran out of time cos I wanted to post it before my bed. Fantastically interesting lady and I've asked to interview her via email so fingers crossed.

royhendo

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2010, 12:16:03 AM »
One might, if one were interested in playing devil's advocate, raise the slightly troublesome contention that Barcelona's success at La Masia might represent a statistical outlier rather than firm evidence that an approach dedicated solely to ability on the ball is a viable academy concept.  Other than Arsenal, are there any other notable, successful  academies dedicated to ability-plus football?  Dario Gradi at Crewe, perhaps?

Perhaps Liverpool might become firmer statistical ground for such a philosophy...  :wave

It's hard to know mate, isn't it? For all we know this has already been installed elsewhere - but it's unlikely - this kind of approach generally sees the staff pecked from the nest in this country.

Regardless, the hard part is setting the goal and buying into it through the organisation. If they manage that, a lot of the other shite that goes on at the club would be undermined.

Cheers on the Moneyball point - I've been arguing that for a few weeks - people confuse the means with the ends, don't they?

Offline soxfan

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2010, 12:21:21 AM »
Excellent post royhendo. Thank you very much for taking the time to write it.  :)

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2010, 12:22:55 AM »

The Prime of Miss Margaret Scott Brown by Roy Hendo.

Yes, it is a very good post mate.

We need a completely holistic, integrated, unifying approach, a new way of doing things embedded from the grassroots to the first team, with each appointment, each strategy calibrated in relation to the other, so that the whole club is moving in one joined up direction. And the wire, the thread that joins it all together is a style and sensibility, an approach to playing the game. Players to be scouted for these attributes, managers to be appointed with this vision.

With the horror show unfolding that is Roy Hodgson's reign we are distracted from the truly historic opportunity that new ownership, with forward thinking, long term strategising owners presents. Take away the gloom of the moment - it is something to be enlivened about.


"My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Napoleon had that idea. He wanted to conquer the bloody world. I wanted Liverpool to be untouchable. My idea was to build Liverpool up and up until eventually everyone would have to submit and give in."

Offline starskysdad

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2010, 12:32:35 AM »
Very well written Roy, quality read.
I'm not saying I disagree with you but, you're pissing in the wind if you think calling someone a c*nt on the net is gonna change the way they think.

Offline djschembri

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2010, 12:38:32 AM »
A very good read. Do you think that this is what the new owners are trying to achieve by appointing Comolli as director of football STRATEGY? I can't help but think that he will be the one that defines the philosophies of the club, and it will be his job to implement this philisophy at the club.

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2010, 12:41:45 AM »
maybe its a scottish thing that Miss Jean Brodie woman did something similar eh?

the ideas are sound its the practical implementation which is tricky

Heighway took 9 of his U-9's side and won the youth cup 8 years later - his intent clearly to make the best players he could from what he had - no realistic way the we had the best 9 players picked at that age and none have gone on to be anything other than average - there's an argument that their development was stunted by lack of opportunity, another that they overachieved on team spirit that could never be replicated when the team broke up -  there is  a certain level of athleticism and mental acuity required that can't be taught or trained, an inate gift - the pupils at Dundee High School may be given every opportunity to develop their potential and they will no doubt achieve magnificently but very few will become professional muscicians

our academy has produced a large number of good players, maximised their talent,  but not many great ones. Can that 'spark' be developed or does it have to exist in the first place - Messi despite his size and fragility must have shown exceptional talent - Fabregas at 16 was capable of playing premiership football - is that the Barca school of development or a natural gift?

I do agree that strength, height and pace catch the eye - those who develop physically earlier stand out at younger levels making it very difficult to identify skill and vision ahead of sheer physicality - Gerrard and Owen stood  out as much physically as talent wise - I understand it can be self fulfilling, kids who dominate physically, will be more confident, confidence is  a key to optimum performance they will show more etc  but there is still a bottom line that certain individuals are inately gifted

identifying those could be done more systematically - I'd think it would be a case of less intelligence and more objectivity along the lines of the australian sports science and our drive for Olympic rowers - i.e. assess everybody - identify those with lung capacity, the right twitch muscles, the balance, the spatial awareness, vision and slot them into the sports they are most suited for - this appears to miss a the key driver of get them in early let them play dont worry about assesment and may best be left until their teens
but thats an even larger social issue - the 'rise' of the coach potato particularly rooted in scotland as I understand

Benitez wanted the net to be cast wider - we've brought in young foriegn lads from all over (despite the academy rules) - he identified that to produce genuine quality there were some key fundamentals needed
maybe he was just trying to short cut the process but the idea seemed to be he needed  a wider 'pool' to pick from - rather than make the best of what you've got his approach appeared to be get in the best you can

I'd agree about Wenger - his acadamy has produced good players but he's bought nearly all of his stars

once gain big man , a thought provoking and excellent post - apols for my rambling response - synapses firing all over the place - lemsip has a lot to answer for 
The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2010, 12:54:08 AM »
You say very few Vulmea - MSB said many did end up as pros. KT Turnstile is their most famous Academy graduate, but seriously, this was an impressive lady.

So the implementation's tricky. So what? ;)

Offline thechulloran

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2010, 12:55:46 AM »
great read, great analogy & refreshing

thanks Mr Hendo!
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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2010, 12:56:31 AM »
Roy its a long shot but does this Mrs Scott Brown have any classes going in liverpool/n west where i can send my daughter? serious qustion

She just has music/rhythm oozing out ov her at nine years old an begging me to take her on BGT ( fuk that)

Sounds like an ideal set up

royhendo

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2010, 12:57:55 AM »
I'd look up "Suzuki Method Liverpool" on Google and take it from there dude - seriously.

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2010, 01:10:17 AM »
Nice read.

I have some issues with it. You seem to be implying that we need to focus on bringing through good youths. I agree with this but the problem is that it takes a long time to find out that you are doing the right things or alternatively it takes a long time to realise that you haven't got it right. Spending money on new players is quicker as you can quickly see if they are good or bad.

To some extent developing youths is like running a factory. You bring in lots of raw material, mold them using "rules", discard the ones that don't make the grade and then at the end you have some finished product. The "rules" part is the hard part and many books could be written about it.

Good coaches focus on the right things that develop skill, speed, stamina etc. but as you implied, everybody does this. Great coaches see something in individuals that others don't see and know when to persevere with the "skinny guy" who does things differently.

Back to the factory analogy..........you can use the same techniques for all young players and discard the ones that don't make it but your methods of developing talent need to be better than the rest. Unfortunately we need to find somebody who has a different but better method than the other teams use. I'm a great believer that a leader/coach/manager makes the difference rather than a method. Hence we need to find people who can spot the talent and develop it rather than follow a "method".
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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2010, 06:55:04 AM »
There's a fellow who plays second base with the Red Sox named Dustin Pedroia. Few teams were interested in him because of his size-- 5' 6" probably 13 stone.  Too small for the big leagues. Couldn't possibly hit with power. He started playing for the Red Sox in 2007. He had the best batting average all time for a 2nd baseman that year and was voted Rookie of the Year. A reporter asked him when he won Rookie of the Year what he intended to do as an encore. Dustin said, "Win Rookie of the Year again." ;) He didn't. He won the league's most valuable player trophy in 2008. No Power? In his time with the Red Sox, Dustin's 4th on the team in home runs. Those ahead of him are well over 6' tall and well over 15 stone.  How does Dustin do it?  Intensity, determination, hard work and the desire to prove that his size isn't a limitation. It's amazing what someone can do despite others' perception of their limitations. Pedroia is not only a great player, he's fun to watch. He swings the bat with all his might and as fielder he reminds me of the Tasmanian Devil in the old Warner Brother cartoons, diving here, there and everywhere. He's got the swagger and the attitude of a Jack Russell terrier that thinks it can beat any dog in the world. When you combine confidence with ability you CAN beat anyone in the world.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2010, 07:00:58 AM by Aitken Drum »
The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet.--Damon Runyon

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2010, 07:14:11 AM »
Roy - isn't this somewhat limited given the regulations governing young kids and where they can play/how far they can travel? The traditional hallmark is Holland (and I think it's fair to say the 'Barca system' is in fact just a reinvention of something the Dutch have been doing for years) and yet, even so, there is a limit to what can be accomplished from within those systems because you run into the limited pool of talent which is available.

There's definitely merit in the argument that more can be done to improve youth football and coaching but is it sufficient to make up the financial gap? I'd argue not given that Barcelona are still reliant on their big money signings (although there's a good case for saying that squad players are less of a problem because they can be brought through the ranks) and that a system that has run for decades in Holland has only seen one 'great' side emerge in recent memory when several top quality talents came through at Ajax at the same time.

Personally, I reckon success for us (given our geographic location and the competition in our allocated area for talent) would be bringing through more squad players with the odd generational talent. We've managed the latter fairly well but have fallen down on the former.
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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2010, 08:20:55 AM »
Stockdam - I don't understand the "issues". You're basically restating my point - that we need long term planning and a "product line" approach. I mean beyond the general idea - we need a formalised product line approach of the kind advocated here: http://www.sei.cmu.edu/productlines/

The unique factor NESV can deliver is patience and commitment to a vision - not flinching from it. When you do that, the coaches can take the step back mentioned and focus on the combinations and encouraging creativity from the players. You don't necessarily need better coaches - you need an attitude of constant refinement and patience.

And Zeb - again, I thought I addressed that in the post. The catchkent is an issue, but as Segura says himself (my sig), the lack of talent isn't the issue. It's the lack of a footballing philosophy with long term commitment to its pursuit, and as Ayesteran says, consideration of how it fits within our culture.

We have a stony operation now in terms of generating profit and we know that's gonna improve. So we'll be able to make additions, sure. But my view, and it tallies with what happened in Spain and in Germany, is that the one hymn sheet is the key. We can't outspend others in the short term. Why bother trying?

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2010, 08:22:52 AM »
Aitken Drum - I totally agree. Nice read that. :)

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2010, 08:24:10 AM »
The thing is, there are no quick fixes. Think like everyone else and we'll just end up with a half assed version of what they have.

Offline ReeNah

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2010, 08:34:57 AM »
Could not agree more Roy fantastic read and definitely looking forward to the changes the club will go through hopefully!
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Offline Samee

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2010, 09:21:17 AM »
Brilliant.
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Offline trenchtownrasta

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2010, 10:42:26 AM »
Certainly food for thought.
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Offline Torpedo Tommy

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2010, 11:07:42 AM »
Very good post.

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #25 on: November 14, 2010, 11:10:48 AM »
Put her in charge of the LFC recorder group ASAP.
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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2010, 11:17:02 AM »
There's a fellow who plays second base with the Red Sox named Dustin Pedroia. Few teams were interested in him because of his size-- 5' 6" probably 13 stone.  Too small for the big leagues. Couldn't possibly hit with power. He started playing for the Red Sox in 2007. He had the best batting average all time for a 2nd baseman that year and was voted Rookie of the Year. A reporter asked him when he won Rookie of the Year what he intended to do as an encore. Dustin said, "Win Rookie of the Year again." ;) He didn't. He won the league's most valuable player trophy in 2008. No Power? In his time with the Red Sox, Dustin's 4th on the team in home runs. Those ahead of him are well over 6' tall and well over 15 stone.  How does Dustin do it?  Intensity, determination, hard work and the desire to prove that his size isn't a limitation. It's amazing what someone can do despite others' perception of their limitations. Pedroia is not only a great player, he's fun to watch. He swings the bat with all his might and as fielder he reminds me of the Tasmanian Devil in the old Warner Brother cartoons, diving here, there and everywhere. He's got the swagger and the attitude of a Jack Russell terrier that thinks it can beat any dog in the world. When you combine confidence with ability you CAN beat anyone in the world.
5 ft 6 ' is very puny for competitive American Sports, At 5 ft 6' in the States, this fellah would have had all sorts of monickers referring to dwarf during his high school days. So yeah, this achievement is testament to an iron will.

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #27 on: November 14, 2010, 11:28:57 AM »
A really interesting and enjoyable read.

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Offline xerxes1

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #28 on: November 14, 2010, 11:31:01 AM »
Should we bombard Dundee High School with e mails demanding that she be released from her contract?
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Offline Johnny C

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #29 on: November 14, 2010, 11:41:39 AM »
A fantastic read...

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #30 on: November 14, 2010, 12:34:46 PM »
Xerxes - you're a thinking man - do you think it's possible that a football club could learn from an unexpected source in that way? The post would have been the same if it was supported by a reference to the Software Product Lines approach posted above. It's a less reactive mode to operate in, that's for sure.

Offline xerxes1

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #31 on: November 14, 2010, 12:43:19 PM »
Xerxes - you're a thinking man - do you think it's possible that a football club could learn from an unexpected source in that way? The post would have been the same if it was supported by a reference to the Software Product Lines approach posted above. It's a less reactive mode to operate in, that's for sure.

Roy, it was an excellent original post. Mine were light hearted, not negative quips.

I happen to agree with every word. I also think that Mrs Scott Brown's philosophy stands a better chance of success than a financially driven NESV one.

How depressing to note the relatively modest contributions to a thread which confirms the five Directors of the Club, none of whom have experience of football, football Adminsitartion or sports related business in the UK. How do you contact Mrs SB ?
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Offline Bullet500

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #32 on: November 14, 2010, 12:57:36 PM »
Great read.

If you're not supported by a sugar daddy, then pursue long term success instead of the short term one and keep yourself sustained.

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #33 on: November 14, 2010, 01:57:13 PM »
You say very few Vulmea - MSB said many did end up as pros. KT Turnstile is their most famous Academy graduate, but seriously, this was an impressive lady.

So the implementation's tricky. So what? ;)

the suzuki method is an interesting aside but the academy has a long roll call of pro players - 20+ at last count  more than one  a year from an intake of what 15-20 a year? allegedly there are more Liverpool academy pro's than there are from any other club playing in the league

the problem has been producing top class players - can the environment and the nuturing of the available talent bridge that gap? everybody may have a capability to be a decent player but that doesn't equate to becoming a top class player

what exactly would be the expectation of  the academy?

Over the last 50 years we've averaged maybe 3 top quality pro's be decade?

Is andre wisdom a product of the academy or a result of excellent scouting at U15 level?

I guess what I'm suggesting is that we dont really know what the strategy of the academy is - under Heighway is was clearly to develop the local talent he had to its maximum - whether the methods employed were right is another issue , whether we identified the right type of talent is an issue but 2 youth titles in 3 years suggest something was right - personally I believe it was probably too perochial  - but the likes of Jimmy Ryan,  Ray Putterill, Jay Spearing,  etc were developed despite the more obvious physical short comings  - Adam Hammill who had considerable talent lacked application rather than ability  and liked chips rather than training - its a two way street the nuturing thing - those being nutured need to play their part too - people may be capable of exceeding your expectations but I still think there is a basic spark needed in a top class footballer that can't be provided by whatever development you practice - clearly developing that spark into a flame is a practical problem but assuming everybody has it I think is a mistake  -

so its the identification of those bright sparks which is the issue and I think is the route Rafa went down 

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #34 on: November 14, 2010, 02:41:29 PM »
And Zeb - again, I thought I addressed that in the post. The catchkent is an issue, but as Segura says himself (my sig), the lack of talent isn't the issue. It's the lack of a footballing philosophy with long term commitment to its pursuit, and as Ayesteran says, consideration of how it fits within our culture.

We have a stony operation now in terms of generating profit and we know that's gonna improve. So we'll be able to make additions, sure. But my view, and it tallies with what happened in Spain and in Germany, is that the one hymn sheet is the key. We can't outspend others in the short term. Why bother trying?

In the Liverpool teams of the past, when there was a very clear philosophy, a very clear direction permeating the whole structure of the club - how many of the players came through the youth system?

Much is made of Barca's operation, yet they're drowning in debt because they too cannot produce and hold onto talent in the quantities and qualities required. It certainly makes a difference if you only need to go out and buy half a team to supplement what's coming through the academy but it still needs to be done and the financial competition for that top quality talent is tougher than ever - although what impact the new European regulations will have on that is something which will be interesting to see. On top of that, even Barca's operation relies upon scouting and bringing in world talent as young as possible and so we're going to have to deal with the idea of bringing in these young kids in at a ludicrously early age to Liverpool and persuade the Home Office to grant passports by the dozen. Watford (IIRC) are currently running a boarding school style of academy so it will be interesting to see what results they'll obtain from that in the long term and whether the 'added value' is sufficient to retain developed talent when players are at an age where they start asking to be shown the money.

Guess my point is that there's certainly room for improvement, and I agree that one needs a 'club direction' so that every managerial change doesn't result in radically different requirements from the youth system, but that one can make counter-points to the idea that it's solely a hymn sheet which is lacking. One can point to the German league team who went out and bought the 'misfits' and played a different style of football, the results were encouraging for a season or two until those type of players' value were also inflated to the point where they could no longer compete as other teams realised the lacunae in their scouting systems. The hymn sheet has to be for a song which can be sung, and I'd say that requires the PL and the FA to be working on this beyond a narrow club focus and as a national programme. Keegan had it right when he said that some clubs would have it made if cod could be taught to play football.
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Offline AirConGipsyRed

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #35 on: November 14, 2010, 02:59:52 PM »
It's Sebelius software, named after the composer. Sorry for being a pedant, but my wife's a music teacher and it is drummed into me most days.

Oh, and an absolutely fantastic read. I think I agree with pretty much all of it, I think I always have done. Both on a musical and football way.

(Band Camp is way underrated)

I am pretty sure the media would be dead against this approach though and anyone who tried to implement it at Liverpool. But hey, f*ck the media.
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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #36 on: November 14, 2010, 03:04:24 PM »
Stockdam - I don't understand the "issues". You're basically restating my point - that we need long term planning and a "product line" approach. I mean beyond the general idea - we need a formalised product line approach of the kind advocated here: http://www.sei.cmu.edu/productlines/

It was late so maybe I didn't make my point (maybe I don't even have one).
I think you are suggesting that we need to develop a method for finding and generating new talent.
But how are we going to do that any differently to anyone else as they all read the same books and are "guided" by the same consultants.
Success doesn't spawn out of methods - they are the building blocks which need to be right. Success comes from a leader who has the vision and the dedication to do things differently or to make sure that the vision is maintained.

So I think we are going to have to be lucky and find a new leader who will make sure that the production line is successful.

#JFT96

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #37 on: November 14, 2010, 03:39:28 PM »
How do you contact Mrs SB ?

It's a good question that - I'm trying, believe you me. It's interesting stuff if you like that kind of thing. ;D

the suzuki method is an interesting aside but the academy has a long roll call of pro players - 20+ at last count  more than one  a year from an intake of what 15-20 a year? allegedly there are more Liverpool academy pro's than there are from any other club playing in the league

First up, the Suzuki method was an approach her and her colleagues were using to improve the quality and time spent with their pupils - they had a problem, and they loved their jobs so they went and got trained on how to address the problem. It's just another arrow in their semi-quiver I guess (ho ho ho).

Are you saying the method proposed wouldn't work with a larger group of kids? Cos that's not the case - it would seem to be independent of the numbers if the set up was right (within reason).

the problem has been producing top class players - can the environment and the nuturing of the available talent bridge that gap? everybody may have a capability to be a decent player but that doesn't equate to becoming a top class player

We'll have roughly the same raw materials as our competitors, so we need to work on our scouting criteria for one - the brains before brawn approach would be one way of doing that - and given the kids we currently oversee, do you reckon we've put an integrated system in place with a steady flow of players coming into genuine first team contention? What I'm saying is that they need to find an edge, and to rethink their approach - to differentiate from their competitors. What you're doing is restating the problem, no? Good to get back to this old to and fro with you by the way mate! :D

what exactly would be the expectation of  the academy?

To supply at least three or four top level footballers to the senior squad each season I reckon, ideally more. But more, to set a clear framework for the entire body of work, and to have a crystal clear picture of the qualities every graduate should have when they finish their time there. And not just in terms of what they can do on a football pitch.

Over the last 50 years we've averaged maybe 3 top quality pro's be decade?

Is andre wisdom a product of the academy or a result of excellent scouting at U15 level?

I can't see why the question's relevant to this debate right enough, but for me the system should be able to cater for kids who come right through as well as kids who are recruited in at a later date. Just like any educational system.

I guess what I'm suggesting is that we dont really know what the strategy of the academy is - under Heighway is was clearly to develop the local talent he had to its maximum - whether the methods employed were right is another issue , whether we identified the right type of talent is an issue but 2 youth titles in 3 years suggest something was right - personally I believe it was probably too perochial  - but the likes of Jimmy Ryan,  Ray Putterill, Jay Spearing,  etc were developed despite the more obvious physical short comings  - Adam Hammill who had considerable talent lacked application rather than ability  and liked chips rather than training - its a two way street the nuturing thing - those being nutured need to play their part too

Where are you getting 'nurturing' can I ask? As I said, the roots of the stuff discussed are in the martial arts tradition. So 'nurturing' is maybe one aspect, but discipline and responsibility and character are far more important, and get far more emphasis. And I'm not saying 'throw away the daft kids' either - if there's a reference group within the group of kids and they have responsibilities that lead to the other kids relying on them (or having that perception), it tends to bring good things out of the kids. In that respect it's no different to Mourinho's approach with senior squads really. It can be hard core disciplinarian stuff just as much as nurturing.

...people may be capable of exceeding your expectations but I still think there is a basic spark needed in a top class footballer that can't be provided by whatever development you practice - clearly developing that spark into a flame is a practical problem but assuming everybody has it I think is a mistake  -

Again, I don't see how this contradicts what I said. I'm saying the opposite. Don't exclude those with the spark based on criteria that shouldn't matter, or that only relate to what the kid did or learned before they came into your 'classroom'. Suspend that kind of judgement and focus more on whether the spark's there.

Quote
so its the identification of those bright sparks which is the issue and I think is the route Rafa went down 

And what I'm saying relates to exactly that. Look at little Sterling - that's a great example I'd argue. He's built like Jiminy Cricket but he's as brave as a lion. Some clubs wouldn't touch him with a bargepole beyond a certain age if he was too easy to knock off the ball - that kind of thing.

Anyway, cheers again!


f*ck the media.

Spot on! And ta for the typo help :)


It was late so maybe I didn't make my point (maybe I don't even have one).
I think you are suggesting that we need to develop a method for finding and generating new talent.
But how are we going to do that any differently to anyone else as they all read the same books and are "guided" by the same consultants.

It's a great question that, cos it states the opportunity in a nutshell. Other clubs aren't doing it. Why? Cos they've been running their own systems for decades and the people running them maybe call the shots, or are related to the FA establishment or whatever. There's an inertia in there that's hard to budge. The Lineker documentary underlined it, Brooking goes on about it, everyone knows what the problem is but nobody wants to budge and impose the solution.

The reason? It takes patience and provocative action of the kind that rattles the establishment. Moneyball covers the exact same phenomenon, and it happens in every walk of life. Someone comes along and proposes a new way of working that contradicst the established way of working - the establishment sit and laugh and say 'it'll be a laugh when they go down the tubes', but sometimes they don't go down the tubes. They gain momentum, take a lead on the etablished bodies, and wave at them as they disappear into the distance while the establishment scratch their heads trying to figure out what happened. In this case it's simple - what's missing are commitment, investment and patience. They're hard to come by, but NESV seem the types if they have the right advice.

Success doesn't spawn out of methods - they are the building blocks which need to be right. Success comes from a leader who has the vision and the dedication to do things differently or to make sure that the vision is maintained.

So I think we are going to have to be lucky and find a new leader who will make sure that the production line is successful.

Again, I don't see how that contradicts what I said in the o.p. Stockdam. The starting point, as I said, is the clear vision that everyone has to buy into.

Offline kwalitee, no?

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #38 on: November 14, 2010, 07:11:12 PM »
It's Sebelius software, named after the composer. Sorry for being a pedant, but my wife's a music teacher and it is drummed into me most days.

Oh, and an absolutely fantastic read. I think I agree with pretty much all of it, I think I always have done. Both on a musical and football way.

(Band Camp is way underrated)

I am pretty sure the media would be dead against this approach though and anyone who tried to implement it at Liverpool. But hey, f*ck the media.

If we're going down the pedant route, it's spelt Sibelius - I just got my son to check our copy of the software  ;)

Offline Vulmea

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Re: The Only True Moneyball Strategy Available
« Reply #39 on: November 14, 2010, 07:17:49 PM »
@13th warrior - think the point I'm failing to get across  is how do we know the academy does not already operate such a policy - if the academy has produced more pro players than any other in the prem isn't it relatively successful at developing what talent it does have? Barca's equivalent catchment area would run past Brum and without a dozen prem league clubs in between including two of the worlds richest - they have a far greater liklihood of identifying those sparks which do exist, throw in half of the american continent and their chances increase further

if the academy were to produce 3 or 4 players a year then our first team would be overrun within 3 years and then where do the 4th years kids go (I know I know good problem to have ) and what if they are all right backs ....... it would be a success rate of 20% thats a pretty high conversation rate - traditionally one every other year would be a success - a target of one a year and we'd be doing well, 3 or 4 seems somewhat ambitious

The major problem that exists isn't really identifying the sparks - plenty of clubs were after the diminuitive Sterling and there are plenty of wunderkinders around - I could name a dozen in our academy and reserves alone with a claim - on the face of it it's how the hell you develop them between 16 and 21 - how the potential shown is realised - Wenger has not accomplished it - United despite their massive advantage of sending reserves out on loan in the prem haven't done it

The Spartans believed the man was created between 7 and 15 (they were pretty bleedin strict though can't see their methods working here - the monastic existence and constant beatings may run foul of human rights), medieval england followed roughly the same thinking in the training and development of young knights (again not a barrel of laughs)- the martial arts approach is generally far more holistic but I haven't seen any great success coming out of the far east paradoxically their players appear to be energiser bunnies rather than rounded players  - why is that? have western methods swamped their natural instincts or is the game itself a western product and therefore success dicated by a western approach?

so if the theory is that what you do in the early years is fundamental to success then that presumably has some legs but its starts well before high school - so all we need to do is identify a football training method covering a holistic appproach to personal development primarily directed at 7 year old scouse boys...... oddly one of our own Craig Johnstone believed he'd accomplished such a feat and went bankrupt and homeless as a consequence when nobody backed him - perhaps NESV should get in touch and get it off the ground - Skippy is exactly the type of innovative thinker that nesv should talk to if they genuinley want to revolutionise the game and steal a lead on the rest

In the mean time the immediate problem is how to develop kids 16-21. Spain, France, Germany all allow reserve teams for the major clubs to play competitive football in their lower leagues - but those clubs do not have the strength of depth in pro clubs we do - if we were to do that we'd put 20 clubs out of business - benitez tried to use the stiffs as an U20 side but the lack of genuine competitive football and the sparsity of games doomed it to failure - the only outlet currently is loan football - this approach has major disadvantages - firstly the promising talent leaves the nest - its taught by inferior coaches with different methods - secondly the individuals expectations are increased, they want first team football and are unhappy being benched upon their return, thirdly the level of football they play is no real barometer for their ability - to be genuinely competitive they'd need to play with and against top quality players - these are only really found in the prem given the gulf to the championship - even the best championship teams play dross every other week.

given the lack of an holistic approach, and the fundamental flaw in player development - the club on its own either has to take over a lower league club and install its own coaches and methods or accept the situation and buy players who have already largely passed their rite of passage and made it into the professional game

Wengers greatest success has been the acquisition of players that are under the radar but largely developed - players who've already had a successful season or less at a senior club - Flamini (Marseille), Song (Bastia), Ramsey (Cardiff), Van persie(Feyenoord), Toure (Mimosas), Veira (Cannes), Anelka (PSG), Diaby (Auxerre), Adebayor (Monaco), Clichy (Cannes), Walcott (Southampton), Eboue(Mimosas), Traore (Monaco), Denilson (San Paolo) and then 16 year olds like Fabregas, Vela, Bendtner who are playing at much higher youth level than their age

Wenger clearly has a handle on the french market - if we are to exploit these types of player then its different countries we'd need to look to - 
« Last Edit: November 14, 2010, 07:20:32 PM by Vulmea »
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