June 30, 2016

Spurs Youth Update – June 2016

At the beginning of the summer I was expecting numerous Development Squad players to be released in order to clear the decks for more promising younger players. This was a little hasty, and I’ll explain why.

In a recent player update, the club confirmed that young professional Emmanuel Sonupe was released at the end of his contract, and that Under-18s Armani Daly, Charlie Hayford and Chris Paul were released at the end of their scholarships. Paul has signed a one-year professional contract at QPR (congratulations to him), whilst the others — as of today — have not yet found new clubs.

Next year, as well as the Under-18 Premier League and the Under-21 Premier League, our youth teams from Under-21 down will participate in at least one extra competition.

The 32 senior clubs that qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, as well as the 32 domestic youth champions are all entered into the ‘UEFA Youth League‘, which is a sort of Youth Champions League. This is a competition for Under-19 players, and for next season players are eligible to play in the competition if they were born on or after 1 January 1998. To give you an idea of what this means for Spurs, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Kyle Walker-Peters and Shayon Harrison miss the cut, but Zenon Stylianides, Shilow Tracey, Kazaiah Sterling and Marcus Edwards are all eligible.

The rules also allow up to three players born on or after 1 January 1997 (i.e. three players a year older) to be included on the list of 40 players, so long as they fulfil various other conditions.

The regulations also state ‘Any player who is fielded in three or more UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League matches (as of the group stages of those competitions) in the course of the 2016/17 season ceases to be eligible to play in the UEFA Youth League’. So we will need to be a little clever with the three overage players that we register; if there is any chance of Carter-Vickers, Walker-Peters and/or Harrison playing first-team football, there is no point in registering them.

Chelsea won this competition last year, and in doing so they played 10 matches, so it’s fair to say that it’s a tournament with a substantial number of games.

In addition to this, it is likely that we will enter the English Football League Trophy, formerly known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy (but currently without a sponsor for the forthcoming season).

For a one-year trial, the tournament has been adapted so that as well as all League One and League Two clubs, it will include 16 category one academy sides.

The format will see 16 regional groups of four teams where the top two progress. I believe that this means it would be an 11-match run to the final consisting of: six group matches, Round of 32, Round of 16, Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals, Final.

As a slight aside, this change has not gone down well with fans of League One and Two clubs, with the Football Supporters’ Federation recently releasing a statement saying that academy sides entering “undermines the integrity of the competition”. Personally, I wouldn’t be happy if a cash-rich Academy side potentially stood between my club and a Wembley appearance/prize money.

It is — as yet — unclear as to whether Spurs will enter this competition, and there are reasons not to, as this article by a Liverpool fan site underlines:

These reasons include not being able to play anyone registered in the first team squad of 25 players, and that all games are to be played during the international breaks.

Therefore, Liverpool – and other Premier League clubs – will lose all their youth internationals as well as anyone in and around the first-team squad.

That would leave the Reds with a handful of players, plus U17 or schoolboys – being played up against full first-teams of players aged 10 years older than them.

Had the competition been more thought out and planned correctly, it would have been a good opportunity for Liverpool’s young players to get competitive football.

If, as expected, Spurs participate in this tournament as well as the three others, the load will be significant for our Academy, and so it quickly becomes obvious why we have not shed what I consider to be the ‘deadwood’.

By my calculations, we have just under 40 players to cover these tournaments; that does not include the new academy intake (which should be somewhere between nine and twelve players), nor does it take into account loans and first-team promotions.

As I mentioned in a previous article, Spurs have very clearly changed their loan policy over the past few years, with numbers dropping off significantly from around 30 loan deals eight years ago, to roughly a third of that now – see The Spurs Report’s piece on this for more detailed information. If we assume that there will be between five and eight loans at any one time, that narrows the pool. If, as the Liverpool site said, the EFL Trophy matches are played during international breaks, that pool is narrowed further — we have a fairly high proportion of youth internationals.

Given the late return of players from the European Championships, we can expect the youngsters on the fringes of the first team squad (Carter-Vickers, Walker-Peters, Harry Winks), plus the returning loanees (Grant Ward, Dominic Ball, Connor Ogilvie) to be to be involved in the early first-team pre-season friendlies, and we have seen in the past how players can use that opportunity to put themselves in the first-team squad picture.

It is going to be very tough to navigate through four competitions with a relatively small squad of players to select from, and I think there will be a number of repercussions from this:

  1. A negative: I don’t think we will perform particularly well in the English Football League Trophy or Under-21 Premier League, with an added caviat that we might do better if next year’s second year Academy players are heavily involved (and that is tricky, as a number of them will be playing Under-18 and UEFA Youth League games). A proportion of the players that played a lot of the Under-21 games last season are not good enough to break through to the first team, and are not showing enough signs of progress.
  2. A positive: I expect one or two players to make an unexpected breakthrough. There are players who will get exposure to more game-time at a higher level than they otherwise might have had, and who just needed that chance to have a run in the team (be that Under-18, Under-19 or Under-21).
  3. A final thought: perhaps we will sign some Under-21 players to help bolster the squads at different age groups. Or perhaps we’ll see us borrow players, like when we saw Ipswich’s Kundai Benyu play in the NextGen Series with us in May.

In the coming days we should have confirmation of the new academy intake and news on whether we are participating in the EFL Trophy; it will be interesting to see if Spurs release any type of statement on this, which might inform us to how this will be managed.

Interesting times of change ahead in the world of youth football.

Tagged ,

May 14, 2016

NextGen Series Update

The reboot of the NextGen Series is ongoing in Amsterdam this weekend, with Spurs sending a squad which included an Ipswich Town player!

As Those Were The Days explain, it is not yet clear whether Kundai Benyu is on a trial, or whether Ipswich have just let us borrow him to make up the numbers.

Today we won our opening match against PSV Eindhoven, with a goal from Joe Pritchard deciding the tie.

You can watch the match here (it’s only two 25 minute halves), or you can read the report here.

The team was as follows:

Whiteman (17)
Walker-Peters (19) Maghoma (18) Walkes (19) Muscatt (18)
Lesniak (20) Benyu (18)
J Pritchard (19) Miller (19) Goddard (19)
Harrison (18)

Subs:
Sterling (17) for Pritchard, 46.
Duncan (17) for Goddard, 46.
Stylianides (18) for Miller, 50.

Tomorrow we play twice – at 11:00 (10:00 UK time) vs Ajax Cape Town, and at 16:00 (15:00 UK time) vs Right to Dream, from Ghana.

Meanwhile, our Under-16s are participating in the Geneva Cup in Switzerland. Today we drew 0-0 with Atlético Madrid, lost 2-1 to Swiss side Servette and won 5-1 against Meyrin FC (another Swiss side).

Tagged ,

May 3, 2016

End of Season Loanee Review

As I was collecting information for my weekly Fighting Cock Podcast youth update, I put out a call for club-specific info about our loanees. The responses were nuggets of gold, so I decided to form a blog from the bulk of them. And so, without further ado…

DeAndre Yedlin – Sunderland (Premier League)

Grant Ward – Rotherham United (Championship)

Or should I say ‘double award winner’ Grant Ward?

Paul Davis of the Sheffield Star sent me this fantastic run-down:

There are flaws in Grant Ward’s game … but not many.

The midfield youngster who celebrated his 21st birthday during his season-long loan at AESSEAL New York Stadium was a key figure in Rotherham United’s successful fight for Championship survival.

He found himself out of favour early in his stay during the reign of Steve Evans, but his pace and direct running earned the admiration of successor Neil Redfearn who picked him for virtually every game.

“He gets you up the pitch. Very quickly,” Redfearn said.

Neil Warnock duly replaced Redfearn and Ward’s dynamism and workrate quickly won over the veteran boss.

Ward’s final ball still needs working on, while learning to give a quick, easy pass would add to his armoury.

But, in terms of attacking threat on the right flank, he was up there all season with the best in the division.

He was given a central role at times but produced his best performances out wide where he was always bold enough to take on his man and quick enough to usually leave him for dead.

He also came up with the Millers’ goal of the season, a thunderous 30-yard effort in front of the Sky cameras against Burnley.

Grant Ward. Honorary Miller. Rotherham fans are very sorry to see him go.

Dominic Ball – Rangers (Scottish Championship)

From @IbroxBuzz:

His best position is DM, loves a tackle, quite physical. His use of the ball and general footballing mind seem to be his best attributes. At centre back he really suits our style of play due to composure. For a young boy he’s very vocal, can tell he’s come from an academy with high standards, talking more experienced pros through games and his media skills are top class. Would 100% take him back in a heartbeat, definitely has a future in the game.

And from Jason from Rangers Report:

Warburton always seemed to rely on Ball whenever a big match came around, not so much in defence but as a holding midfielder. Always came through with solid performances. Did I see anything that screams – “here’s a future EPL player”? No. But I also didn’t see anything that showed that he couldn’t play at that level. Given his role (& the way Rangers dominated) he wasn’t under much pressure defensively. As much as I’d love to see him back at Ibrox – he’d probably be better suited playing going on loan with an English Championship side to better evaluate his future value for Spurs.

Thanks to those gentlemen for the terrific insight!

Federico Fazio – Sevilla (La Liga)

lol

Alex Pritchard – West Bromwich Albion (Premier League)

So, I started with the players who finished the season still on loan. And I wanted to get this out while it was current… but I will revisit this and get something together for the rest of this season’s loanees:

Kenny McEvoy – Stevenage, York City (League Two) NB: now joined York permanently.
Shaq Coulthirst – Wigan (League One)
Harry Voss – Stevenage (League Two)
Christian Maghoma – Yeovil Town (League Two)
Nathan Oduwa – Rangers (Scottish Championship), Colchester United (League One)
Connor Ogilvie – Stevenage (League Two)
Ryan Loft – Braintree Town (National League)

A final thought – Spurs have very clearly changed their loan policy over the past few years, with numbers dropping off significantly from around 30 loan deals eight years ago, to roughly a third of that now – see The Spurs Report’s piece on this for more detailed information. Loans seem to be used for specific reasons now – 1. sink or swim (Oduwa), 2. try before you buy (McEvoy) , or 3. too good an opportunity to turn down (Ward). A fourth category might be ‘to test the player’s temperament’. It will be fascinating to see how this is developed next season too.

Tagged , ,

March 28, 2016

U19 Champions Trophy – Update

This morning a Tottenham Hotspur Under-19 squad lost in a semi-final match with Red Ball Salzburg in what has been a largely underwhelming U19 Champions Trophy performance.

Obviously I don’t know how impacted other teams were by international call-ups, but Spurs were without Charlie Owens, Alfie Whiteman, Marcus Edwards, Jaden Brown, Japhet Tanganga and Sam Shashoua, plus Under-16 Nya Kirby for this tournament. Tashan Oakley-Booth did not make the trip either – possibly because we already had quite a few midfielders involved.

All players born after 1st January 1997 were eligible to play, and so Cameron Carter-Vickers, Harry Voss, Luke Amos and Shayon Harrison were also eligible for the tournament, but were either injured (Carter-Vickers, Voss) or considered too far advanced to justify their inclusion (Amos, Harrison). Chris Paul, Charlie Hayford and Armani Daly are in the midst of looking for new clubs and so were not included. But we did have a number of players dropping down from Under-21 football.

Squad List

U19 Champions Trophy Squad List

And in age order:

Anton Walkes 8 Feb 1997, 19
Anthony Georgiou 24 Feb 1997, 19
Cy Goddard 2 Apr 1997, 18
Ryan Loft 14 Sep 1997, 18
Christian Maghoma 8 Nov 1997, 18
Joe Muscatt 15 Dec 1997, 18
Thomas Glover 24 Dec 1997, 18
Zenon Stylianides 7 Jan 1998, 18
Tom McDermott 30 Jan 1998, 18
Shilow Tracey 29 Apr 1998, 17
Aremide Oteh 10 Sep 1998, 17
George Marsh 5 Nov 1998, 17
Kazaiah Sterling 9 Nov 1998, 17
Dylan Duncan 25 Jan 1999, 17
Jack Roles 26 Feb 1999, 17
Keanan Bennetts 9 Mar 1999, 17
Nicholas Tsaroulla 29 Mar 1999, 16
Joy Mukena 3 Jul 1999, 16
Jonathan Dinzeyi 16 Sep 1999, 16

Our results were as follows:

Saturday
PSV Eindhoven – drew 0-0
Borussia Mönchengladbach – won 1-0 (Maghoma)

Sunday
Japan Highschool Selection – lost 2-1 (Oteh)
Fortuna Düsseldorf – won 1-0 (Bennetts)

Monday
Red Bull Salzburg – lost 1-0

Our final match — the third place play-off against Japan Highschool Selection — will take place at 13:45 UK time.

To have only scored three times in 250 minutes of football (the matches consist of two halves of 25 minutes) will be disappointing for the coaching team. But if I were John McDermott/Matt Wells, I’d have been most disappointed at the lack of bravery in possession. At times it felt as though the centre-backs kept firing aimless balls forward or straight out of play – particularly in the match against Red Bull Salzburg.

The tournament illustrated that a number of these players are not up to the levels required, and will have helped McDermott make some decisions about who stays and who goes. There are a lot of decisions to be made about the first year professionals in particular at the end of the season, as we look to re-model (and possibly trim down) the development squad.

Disappointingly, throughout the tournament, it was often the younger players who took responsibility and showed bravery on the ball. My stand-out performers thus far have been Marsh, Roles and Tsaroulla.

Tagged ,

March 25, 2016

Youth Update – March 2016

This is a long overdue youth update from me, so I apologise to anyone who doesn’t follow me on Twitter or listen to my weekly segment on The Fighting Cock podcast, as you’ll have had to look elsewhere for your youthy nuggets! There’s a lot going on!

U19 Champions Trophy

Firstly, over this Easter weekend, an Under-19 squad will be taking part in the U19 Champions Trophy in Düsseldorf. Our schedule us as follows:

Saturday
PSV Eindhoven 10:30 local time, 9:30 UK time
Borussia Mönchengladbach, 17;00 local time, 16:00 UK time

Sunday
Japan Highschool Selection, 14:00 local time, 13:00 UK time
Fortuna Düsseldorf, 18:30 local time, 17:30 UK time

The next matches all take place on Easter Monday: here is the full schedule.

There should be a stream for at least some of the matches here.

The squad will most likely be made up of a mixture of Under-18 and Under-21 players who are not currently on international duty.

International Call-Ups

We have various players away representing their countries at various levels:

Nigeria Under-23s: Nathan Oduwa
Slovakia Under-21s: Filip Lesniak
England Under-20s: Harry Winks
England Under-19s: Kyle Walker-Peters and Josh Onomah
Northern Ireland Under-19s: Charlie Owens
England Under-18s: Alfie Whiteman and Marcus Edwards
England Under-17s: Jaden Brown, Japhet Tanganga and Samuel Shashoua
England Under-16s: Oliver Skipp, Nya Kirby and Reo Griffiths (Tashan Oakley-Booth and Timothy Eyoma were left out, possibly due to some sort of squad rotation).

Edwards scored two for the England Under-18s as they won 3-2 in Austria.
Onomah scored for the Under-19s in a 2-1 win over Georgia.
The full England Under-16s match vs Russia is here – Kirby gets the assist for the goal at 1hr59 in the video.
The full England Under-16s match vs USA is here – spoiler alert: it ended 2-2.

There was an excellent run-down of most of the involvement on the official site.

Under-18s

We have managed two wins and two defeats from our four matches in the Final Stage of the Under-18 Premier League.
U18 Premier League Table

In the last match, a 7-3 victory vs Wolves, it was pleasing to see Oakley-Boothe and Eyoma promoted. The goals came from: Roles, Oakley-Boothe, Loft (2), Oteh, Muscatt, Duncan. The highlights are well worth a watch!

Oakley-Boothe, by all accounts, was outstanding on his first start, and came away with two assists and a goal. He is a big, big talent and one to watch. Shilow Tracey also played a part in three of our first four goals and you can see from the highlights alone that he was a threat on the right-hand side.

Under-21s

The Under-21s beat Leicester 3-0, with goals from Harrison 2 and Goddard. The highlights are worth watching for Goddard’s spectacular volleyed finish.

That was Kazaiah Sterling’s second appearance at that level, which is frankly ludicrous given that Shayon Harrison has been injured for a lot of the season. Sterling’s call-up was well overdue, and apparently he had an excellent game.

That was the Under-21s’ first league win since November, which goes some way to explaining the poor league placing:

U21 Premier League Table

We are now eight points ahead of Norwich who are sat in the first of the two relegation places in the division, though they do have a game in hand over us.

The Under-21 league format has been heavily criticised and is currently under review. The Mirror recently reported that the structure will be changing back to something closer to the old reserve league from the 2017/18 season.

Musa Yahaya

Portuguese second division club Portimonense have signed Musa Yahaya on a five-year contract. This will hopefully end all of the rumours surrounding this player, who had been on a trial at Spurs. There were work permit complications, and I have been told that the club did not think it was worth pursuing – presumably because he was no better than what we had.
Musa Yahaya

Marcus Edwards

As I understand it, the super-talent that is Marcus Edwards has yet to sign a contract. I gather that the club are confident of him eventually signing.

It is understandable that a player widely seen as the best English 17-year old in the country would not wish to sign Spurs’ ‘standard’ first professional contract that they offer to all 17-year olds deemed worthy.

It is equally understandable that Spurs would not wish to set a precedent by offering a deal over and above what they normally would to a player of that age; we are not Chelsea (where Ruben Loftus-Cheek is paid more than Christian Eriksen, for example!).

Johstone’s Paint Trophy

The Telegraph reported last week that there are ongoing discussions which may see 16 Premier League Under-21 teams entered into the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy next season. Watch this space on that one.

UEFA Youth League

If we were to qualify for the Champions League (which looks likely), we would also be automatically be entered into the UEFA Youth League for Under-19s.

This season has seen Chelsea progress to the semi-finals:

Friday 15 April
• Semi-final at 13.00CET: Chelsea v Anderlecht
• Semi-final at 17.00CET: Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain

The competition is strong, a lot of games are televised, and the league helps to bridge the gap between Under-18 and Under-21 football, so I would be very pleased were we to qualify. I would have slight concerns about the talent level of the team that we could put out, as our eligible players are a real mix of abilities. But, in some respects, it will be a great way to sort the wheat from the chaff, so the cliché goes.

Loanees

It has not been a great season for Spurs loanees, amidst a very definite change of strategy since Mauricio Pochettino became Head Coach.

There is a greater emphasis now on keeping players in-house, and loans seem to only be taken up where the opportunity is too good to turn down. For example, Luke Amos had an offer from Bradford City, and Kyle Walker-Peters had a trial at Roda JC with a view to a loan.

DeAndre Yedlin has recently become a regular at Sunderland, playing their last five Premier League matches at right-back. He has now played 13 matches in total this season.

Grant Ward has had a mixed time at Rotherham United in the Championship since Neil Redfearn was sacked as their manager. Having started 18 consecutive league matches, he has had a run of eight where he has been in and out since Warnock took over.

Dominic Ball has also been in and out, not cementing himself in the Rangers team, but still getting plenty of minutes under Mark Wartburton in the Scottish Championship. Ball has started three times as a defensive midfielder recently, and I wonder whether this might be the long-term plan for him in light of the Eric Dier experiment. Perhaps he will get some first team involvement in pre-season to check on his progression.

Poor Connor Ogilvie has damaged his ankle ligaments and will miss the rest of the season, having become a firm favourite for Stevenage in League Two. All in, he started 24 times for them and he will be looking to progress next season – be that a League One or Championship club, or with a full season of Under-21 football and even, perhaps, the occasional first-team opportunity.

Alex Pritchard has only made two substitute appearances for West Bromwich Albion since joining in January. Tony Pulis has put this down to Pritchard’s recovery from injury, saying:

“Alex has come in and has tremendous talent. He was injured at Tottenham for a long time so it’s just making sure and I think Tottenham are concerned we don’t push him too quickly too soon.

The last thing they want is the kid to get injured again so it’s just about being patient with Alex as much as anything else.

He’s trained well, he’s worked well and he’s desperate to be involved. But sometimes you have to hold them back and we have a responsibility to Tottenham for that.”

Nathan Oduwa joined Colchester United in League One at the end of his loan at Rangers. So far he has only played 44 minutes with their manager Kevin Keen saying “there’s a big difference between looking like a player and being a player and that’s what he’s got to learn.”

Finally, Ryan Loft joined Braintree Town of the Vanarama National League on a ‘work experience’ loan, as Spurs described it. I assume this is what is also known as a youth loan, where young players can also play for their parent club’s Under-18 and Under-21 sides whilst on loan. He has been on Braintree’s bench, but has not made an appearance just yet.

Tagged ,

RSS Feed Google+s The Fighting Cock!
 
 

Twitter

RT @MirrorFootball: Tottenham flop Cinton N'Jie set to join Marseille after undergoing medical https://t.co/JK0DE6ffoF https://t.co/bbDp39a…
5 hours ago