July 29, 2014

Spurs youth round-up

Ledley King appointed Under-18 coach

News that may have gone a little under the radar due to the North American tour was that legendary captain, Ledley King, has been appointed as a part-time Under-18 coach. Academy Manager & Head of Coaching, John McDermott told the official site:

“Ledley has come through the coaching training programme undertaken by a number of senior players in recent seasons, including Scott Parker, Brad Friedel and Michael Dawson.

We are now looking for Ledley to spend 2-3 days a week assisting our Under-18 group with their on and off pitch development.

Using senior players as role models within our Academy is a scheme we are keen to nurture and develop further.”

There are few better people to learn from than McDermott. I wish Ledley well, and look forward to seeing him at Hotspur Way!

Ugo Ehiogu appointed Under-21 coach

Ugo Ehiogu has been appointed as our Under-21 coach, taking over from Chris Ramsey, who left the club after Tim Sherwood’s dismissal. Ehiogu has been working with our young players for some time (Under-16s, I believe) and so knows our set-up. Presumably his work so far has been such that he was deserving of this promotion – it’ll be interesting to see what style the team plays in the forthcoming season.

Assisting Ehiogu is former Spurs Academy player, Matthew Wells. After suffering from a series of injuries which stopped him from ‘making it’, Matthew decided to go into coaching. In his relatively short career (he’s in his 20s), he’s worked at Stevenage as Head of Technical Development, as well as at the Nike Academy as an Assistant Coach.

Under-21 tournament

We recently took a young Under-21 squad to Ploufragan, north-west France to compete in the National Under-21 Tournament.

The travelling party was as per the picture below:

THFC

Back row: Harry Voss, Nathan Oduwa, Jon Obika, Anton Walkes, Dominic Ball, Ruben Lameiras, Daniel Akindayini, Harry Winks, Joshua Onomah, Tom Glover
Front row: Shaquile Coulthirst, Alex McQueen, Will Miller, Filip Lesniak, Aaron McEneff, Emmanuel Sonupe, Kyle Walker-Peters, Cameron Carter-Vickers

Our results were as follows:

Olympique Marseille: lost 1-0.
Lorient: won 1-0 (Onomah).
EA Guingamp: lost 2-1 (Lameiras).
Auxerre: lost 1-0.

Without knowing the ages of the other squads, it’s quite difficult to assess our performance, but it’s worth noting that the majority of our squad were 18-years old or younger, so to be playing against players potentially three years older will stand them in good stead.

Musa Yahaya

The young Nigerian, Musa Yahaya, has been training with us in pre-season, after he signed a pre-contract agreement in March (having reportedly turned down Arsenal and Ajax).

He was unable to sign a full contract as he does not turn 17 until mid-December.

He is expected to join La Liga side, Celta Vigo, on loan in September – he doesn’t have a work permit, and the regulations are sufficiently different in Spain to allow him to play there.

Yahaya is highly rated and is already in the Nigeria Under-20 squad despite technically being an Under-17 player.

This website describes how he signed him in March from Mutunchi Academy for a fee of one million Euros (excluding performance related incentives) and explains his contract situation:

The Nigeria youth international has signed a pre-contract with Spurs, but there is a black and white agreement in place that he will pen a professional deal with effect from January 1, 2016, and by then he would have attained the age of maturity.

For agreeing to sign a preliminary contract with the Londoners, Yahaya would be paid £125,000 in five equal installments excluding his annual wage of £120,000, on the proviso that he remains on the books of his nursery club, Mutunchi Academy until December 31, 2015.

Musa Yahaya’s contract with Spurs will expire on June 30, 2020, and he is set to pocket £50,000 when he makes his first Premier League start for the club.

Rareş Lazăr‏

Meanwhile, we’ve reportedly picked up another young talent in Romanian, Rareş Lazăr‏.

Rares Lazar

Rareş has been signed from FC Vaslui, who play in Liga I in Romania. Last season he became the second youngest player to have ever appeared in Liga I at 15 years, 1 month and 20 days!

The central midfielder had trials at QPR and Liverpool, but has agreed to join Spurs, signing a two-year deal.

This year’s scholars

Spurs have been, as usual, slow to update the Academy section of the official site, but I would expect the new intake to include:

Thomas Glover (goalkeeper)
Alfie Whiteman (goalkeeper)
Christian Maghoma (centre back)
Cameron Carter-Vickers (centre back)
Chris Paul (right back)
Joe Muscatt (left back)
Zenon Stylianides (central midfielder)
Charlie Owens (central midfielder)
Ismail Azzaoui (attacking midfielder)
Armani Daly (winger/forward)
Charlie Hayford (attacking midfielder)

The players moving up to the second year are:

Joe Pritchard
Lloyd Ross
Harry Voss
Anton Walkes
Luke Amos
Anthony Georgiou
Cy Goddard
Kyle Walker-Peters
Joshua Onomah
Shayon Harrison

However, Onomah has been given a professional contract, such is his ability. I would expect him to be with the Under-21 squad, and there’s a fair chance that a couple of others will join him there – Kyle Walker-Peters certainly, but also Carter-Vickers, despite being a first year.

Players to watch

We have a number of impressive players who are close to making appearances for the first team; assuming that we stay in the cup competitions, I would expect to see glimpses of the following players:

Dominic Ball – centre-back who made the bench away at Benfica.
Harry Winks – central midfielder, and another player who was an unused substitute away at Benfica.
Connor Ogilvie – versatile defender who also made the bench away at Benfica.
Nathan Oduwa – tricky forward who normally plays wide.
Joshua Onomah – gifted central midfielder; Martin Lipton of The Mirror recently suggested that he might be in the England team by 2018.

Of course we’ve also seen Mason, Carroll, Ceballos, Falque, Fryers, Fredericks, Archer, McGee and Veljovic in the first team squad in America, and I’d expect that we’ll see more of some of these, whilst others might be sent on loan or sold.

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July 26, 2014

Under-21s in France

Our Development Squad is currently participating in the National Under-21 Tournament in Ploufragan, north-west France.

We lost our first match 1-0 to Olympique Marseille on Friday.

Our line-up was as follows: Voss, McQueen, Walker-Peters, Winks, Carter-Vickers, Lesniak, Sonupe, Onomah, Obika, Oduwa, McEneff.

I can only presume that the formation was:

Voss
Walker-Peters McQueen Carter-Vickers McEneff
Winks Lesniak Onomah
Sonupe Obika Oduwa

For a full report, check out the official site.

Today we play Lorient (kick off 11am local time) and Guingamp (kick off 6.30pm local time).

THFC

Back row: Harry Voss, Nathan Oduwa, Jon Obika, Anton Walkes, Dominic Ball, Ruben Lameiras, Daniel Akindayini, Harry Winks, Joshua Onomah, Tom Glover
Front row: Shaquile Coulthirst, Alex McQueen, Will Miller, Filip Lesniak, Aaron McEneff, Emmanuel Sonupe, Kyle Walker-Peters, Cameron Carter-Vickers

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May 27, 2014

Spurs at Terborg Tournament

Starting on Friday, Tottenham Hotspur participate in the Terborg Toernooi in the Dutch province of Gelderland.

The squad travelling to the tournament is a mixture of ages – from 16-year old Australian goalkeeper Tom Glover to 19-year old winger, Kenny McEvoy. The travelling party in full is:

Goalkeepers
Harry Voss, 17
Tom Glover, 16

Defenders
Kyle Walker-Peters, 17
Connor Ogilvie, 18
Anton Walkes, 17
Dominic Ball, 18
Alex McQueen, 19

Midfielders
Tomislav Gomelt, 19
Filip Lesniak, 18
Harry Winks, 18
Ruben Lameiras, 19
William Miller, 17

Forwards
Kenny McEvoy, 19
Emmanuel Sonupe, 18
Nathan Oduwa, 18
Anthony Georgiou, 17
Daniel Akindayini, 18
Shayon Harrison, 16

Staff:
John McDermott, Academy Manager
Kieran Mckenna, Under-18 Coach
Rob Burch, Goalkeeper Coach
Aaron Harris, Head of Academy Sports Medicine and Sports Science
Matt Allen, Head of Academy Physical Development
Andy Ratnage, Academy Performance Analyst

Spurs’ first four matches across Friday and Saturday are as follows:

Friday 15:00 Fluminense
Friday 18:20 Cruzeiro
Saturday 12:30 Vitesse
Saturday 15:50 Dalian Aerbin FC

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May 23, 2014

Released and retained players announced

Well, I timed my Development Squad round-up well didn’t I? I published the article yesterday, and the released/retained player lists have come out today. I didn’t do too badly with my predictions, either.

The big news for current first team players revolves around goalkeepers: Brad Friedel has been offered (and apparently signed) a one year contract, whilst Heurelho Gomes has been released.

Jon Obika has also been offered a new contract, probably because he has a sell-on value. We got £400k from a League One club (Swindon) for Massimo Luongo so Obika – who has been playing Championship football – should command a similar fee, despite being 24 in September.

Dominic Ball has extended his professional contract, whilst Cristian Ceballos, Grant Ward and Grant Hall have been retained (meaning their contracts didn’t end this summer). Soli Coulibaly has also been offered a new contract; this, for me, was probably one of the biggest surprises – I expected the Ivorian to be released.

As announced in my Spurs Academy round-up, Daniel Akindayini’s scholarship has been extended for a third year, whilst professional contracts have been offered to Ruben Lameiras and Alex McQueen (previously on the third year of their scholarships), as well as second year scholars Filip Lesniak, Aaron McEneff, Luke McGee, Will Miller, Connor Ogilvie, Emmanuel Sonupe, and Harry Winks. Second year scholars Liam Priestley and Kane Vincent-Young have not been retained.

Nathan Oduwa has ‘extended’ his contract, meaning that presumably he was already on a professional contract – an interesting development. Whether that means he was particularly rated, or that we had to fight to keep him (he played some games for West Brom’s Academy team two years ago), I’m unsure. What I do know is that he’s an exciting talent, and one to watch.

Joshua Onomah also signed a professional contract recently, despite being of ‘first year’ age – he has been playing ahead of his age group for some time, and is very highly thought of.

As well as Gomes, youngsters Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Cameron Lancaster, Roman Michael-Percil, Jon Miles, Kevin Stewart and Lawrence Vigouroux have been released on free transfers.

Darren McQueen has also left, signing for Ipswich, and I gather Laste Dombaxe has left the club too.

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May 22, 2014

Development Squad round-up

Last week I wrote an update on the Academy squad, and I thought I would follow that up with this – an update on the slightly older players; the inbetweeners as I like to call them, or the Development Squad as the club refer to them.

The Under-21s finished 12th out of 22 teams in the Barclays U21 Premier League Group Stage this season – not too impressive, but to be expected. This year’s ‘crop’ did not have the same quality as last year, when we had the likes of Carroll, Mason, Bentaleb, Fredericks, Fryers, Ceballos, Falque, Obika, Townsend and Hall in the team regularly. Most of those players were either out on loan or involved with the first team for most of this season, and the players stepping up were simply not as good (I think many of them will be released in the summer).

On the positive side, the players who came up from the Under-18s towards the end of the season most certainly *are* as good as the previous crop, and the signs are good for next season – in both the 18s and 21s. The likes of Ogilvie, Winks, Onomah, Oduwa, Lesniak, etc, were absolutely ready to make the step up, but it was inevitable that there would be an element of ‘settling in’ to that level. Now that they have a few games in the Under-21s under their respective belts, next season should be far more straightforward.

So what of those who have contracts ending this summer? According to the very useful Spurs Player Contracts blog, run by ‘zin’ from the Fighting Cock forum the following have contracts that are due to expire:

Jonathan Miles
Alex McQueen
Cristian Ceballos
Jonathan Obika
Cameron Lancaster
Giancarlo Gallifuoco
Grant Ward

It would not particularly surprise me if all of these players left in the summer, but I would expect Ward (who is on loan at Chicago Fire until the end of the 2014 season) and Ceballos, who has played 19 times for Arouca in the Portuguese Premier League this season, to sign on for a further year and, therefore, command fees if they were to move.

If pushed, I’d guess that Alex McQueen and Giancarlo Gallifuoco will get another year each too, but I’d certainly expect Lancaster and Obika to leave, and would not be surprised if  they were joined by Tomislav Gomelt and Souleymane Coulibaly.

I am less sure on the future of Laste Dombaxe – at one point he was highly regarded, but he was in and out of the Under-21 side at the end of the season, and it would be no great surprise if he were released too, especially as he failed to land a full loan move to Bolton after a short ‘work experience’ loan in January.

We also know that goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux has re-joined Alex Inglethorpe at Liverpool. We can only assume that the club felt that Lawrence was no better than Archer, Miles and McGee; I can’t say I’m especially disappointed that he’s left, but he seemed a very nice lad and I wish him well.

Forward Darren McQueen – cousin of Alex – has signed for Ipswich Town, whilst Roman Michael-Percil has had trials with various clubs including Brentford. Kevin Stewart has had trials with Sheffild United but Nigel Clough (their manager) has suggested that he’s set to sign for a Premier League club.

I would expect the likes of Archer, Ball, McEvoy and Lameiras to be regulars for the Under-21s or out on loan if they can get suitable moves next season.

Digressing away from the Under-21s and back into the realms of Academy, we are sending a squad to participate in the Terborg Tournament in Holland at the end of May. It will be interesting to see whether Australian goalkeeper, Tom Glover, and Belgian attacking midfielder, Ismail Azzaoui, are in the travelling party. I also wonder whether 16-year old Nigerian, Musa Yahaya – who supposedly signed for us and then went immediately on loan to Celta Vigo – will be involved; it could be a good way to introduce him to life at Tottenham.

One player who will be going to the tournament is Josh Onomah. Onomah was part of the England Under-17 team that beat The Netherlands to win the UEFA European Championship this week, and Academy Manager, John McDermott has spoken about Josh’s progression:

“He’s had a magnificent games programme this season and hopefully he’ll benefit from that.

He’s also trained with the first team and been on the bench a couple of times. Another thing I’m pleased about is that he’s matured as a young man, not just on the football pitch, but off it. I’m really pleased with his overall development, not just his football development.”

Keep an eye on this site for updates from the Terborg Tournament when I have them.

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