The subject of creating your own youth intake has already been covered in a great way by FMCatennacio here and this is in no way intended to be a copy of his work. This is a slightly different approach and is to be seen as a compliment. Below I show how smaller clubs (Stockport in this example) can increase their likelihood of producing Academy players good enough for the senior team on a relatively small budget by approaching the youth intake day in a different and structured way.
This is enough!
After yet another disappointing youth intake not producing a single player even worth mentioning Technical Director Angry Tony Pulis and manager Marcus Allbäck decide to do something about it. With no money to spend on either new signings or improvements to the current youth setup they had to look elsewhere. As a low reputation club without any money they invented a new approach based on three steps:
- Step 1 – Creating a network of feeder clubs
- Step 2 – Search local countries for talent (Northern Ireland, Ireland and Wales for an English team)
- Step 3 – Scour the market for players fitting the clubs style of play
This is a strategy that will most likely work for the lower reputation teams, but will also work for a big club. You’ll probably only need to scale it up a bit!
Tip no 1 – Trials. A key to this method is to approach new youth players (newgens) on intake day or the days after – before they are offered contracts by their clubs – and offer them trials at your club. The likeliness of them accepting your trial offer are based on a number of factors I’ll go through below.
Tip no 2 – Sign or buy. Getting players in on trials is a quick way to get a decent idea of their quality and potential, making it easier for you to decide whether they are good enough to be offered a contract at your club. However, be aware of the fact that you’ll need to pay compensation to the player’s club if you sign them that way. Sometimes it’s cheaper to actually buy them from their club for an amount lower than the compensation fee. You can always check the compensation fee and then try to offer the player’s club a lower offer!
Tip no 3 – Keep the numbers down. Another issue with trials is that your board will likely prevent more trialists from coming in once you reach too many. How many that’s too many differs from club to club, but a way to keep the numbers down is to make sure that you don’t offer too many players trial contracts at once and that you terminate the trials of players you don’t want straight away.
Firstly, we’ll take a look at how Allbäck and Pulis used the local talent pool.
- Step 1 – A network of feeder clubs
The first step was to create a network of local clubs from the lower leagues. After scouting the area this resulted in a network of eleven clubs with very different levels of youth facilities. The best players from each of these clubs were offered trial contracts in an attempt for them to impress enough to earn a spot at the Stockport Academy.
The eleven clubs within the Stockport feeder club network are:
Oldham – Basic youth facilities
Crewe – Average
Port Vale – Below average
Accrington Stanley – Below average
Chesterfield – Adequate
Macclesfield – Below average
Altrincham – Poor
Ashton – Poor
Chorley – Great
Curzon Ashton – Poor
FC United of Manchester – Basic
Tip No4 – Reputation. The most important thing when building your own feeder club system is to find clubs with lower or equal reputation to increase the likeliness of youth players from these clubs wanting to join. A player from a lower reputation club is more likely to sign for you than one from a higher reputation club.
Tip No5 – Close to home. Another important aspect, at least when recruiting as a low reputation club, is how far away from you the player that you want to recruit is. Younger players tend to be much more interested in signing for you if your club is nearby – perhaps they can even keep living at home with mum and dad? This is why focusing on the area around you is crucial.
The likelihood of this line-up of clubs producing youth players of La Masia quality is probably very low, but the hopes are to acquire decent youth players from the local area for a relatively low sum.
Players signed from Step 1:
Emmanuel Idowu – AMC – Chorley
Frank Kenny – MC – Accrington
Jonny Robinson – SC – Chesterfield
Daniel Opoku – DC – Chesterfield
Michael Grimes – MC – Chesterfield
Christopher Gilbert – AMC – Macclesfield
A total of 36 players from the eleven feeder clubs were invited to the try-outs and 6 players from the local area turned out good enough to get a chance in the Stockport Academy.
- Step two – Northern Ireland, Ireland and Wales
The second step was to scout all of the clubs in the top divisions in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Tip No 6 – Low reputation leagues. These three leagues have low reputations making the players willing to join. Even though the reputation is low it is quite common to find one or two really good youngsters in every intake from these leagues (and others with low reputation). What’s even better is that they are likely to sign with you and at a fairly low cost!
Players signed from Step 2:
Jim Corbett – MC – Galway Utd
Gary Walker – SC – UC Dublin
Stuart Hughes – DMC – Crusaders
Daniel Gibson – MC – Dungannon
Out of 18 trialists from Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales another 4 players where found in the second step, with Daniel Gibson from Dungannon being a potential gem.
- Step 3 – Scour the market
The third and final step is to scout the entire UK and Ireland for interested players. After filtering for the above attributes the 20 highest valued players were offered a trial. This provided the chance to evaluate them quickly and decide which players were good enough to earn a spot in the Stockport Academy.
Tip No 7 – Search for what you actually want. Are you trying to play a certain type of football? Do you focus on mentally strong players? When you go for the broad search try to narrow it down using the attribute and/or personality filter to find exactly the player you need!
Players signed from Step 3:
Leo Coulson – SC – Chester
Jake Burke – MC – Chester
Kareem Reyes – SC – Bromley
Abdul Jamal – SC – Telford
Lee Lewis – DMC – Telford
Richard Avins – DC – Doncaster
Mark Leake – DC – Kettering
Ryan Dickson – MC – Barnet
Out of the 20 players matching the Angry Tony Pulis criteria a total of 8 players fitting the “Angry Tony Pulis Rating” were found, which was a surprisingly high number.
Tip No 8 – Use your own Academy. Even though you might not produce world beaters from your Vanarama North Academy you might very well find players good enough to still be worth keeping around. Do you have a player with a specific set of skills you might need? A fast player with decent dribbling may very well work as a lower league winger even though his potential is low and the rest of his attributes are rubbish!
Stockport Academy players:
Philip Allen – SC – Stockport U19s
Grant Potts – SC – Stockport U19s
Darren Owen – Stockport U19s
Nathan Debenham – Stockport U19s
Finally Marcus Allbäck and Angry Tony Pulis gave the current Academy players a chance to prove their worth, which resulted in a rather sad number. Only four players were deemed good enough to remain and the rest where scrapped.
Below you can see the new Academy players sorted by the “Angry Tony Pulis Rating” base value 1-50 (Tackling+Aggression+Teamwork+Work Rate+Strength)/2 used at Stockport. You can also see the rating of each position, which is calculated by adding 4-5 specific attributes for each position.
The most exciting players out of this lot are Northern Irish U19 international Daniel Gibson and Stockport’s own Grant Potts, the only 5 star potential player the Stockport youth intakes have provided so far.
The new network of clubs plus the detailed scouting of the British Isles provided Marcus Allbäck and Angry Tony Pulis with 20 exciting players that will hopefully make it into the first team. I also hope that you enjoyed the read and perhaps got some inspiration to spice up your own intakes!
Thanks for reading another excellent post by Mikaelinho. You can follow him on Twitter here:
- Twitter: @mikaelinhofm