A Spurs youth round-up: Sherwood, The Milk Cup, Eurofoot and Bostock
Tim Sherwood’s growing influence
A Spurs XI, managed by Tim Sherwood, drew 2-2 draw with Leyton Orient last week. I must admit that I didn’t make it to the game – I couldn’t face the four hour round trip on a Wednesday evening, and I felt that £15 was a bit steep for what was essentially a reserve side (fair play to those who made the trip!). By all accounts, it was a fairly drab affair – Orient dominated the first half (and could have scored many more), and Spurs dominated the second. Our goals came through Ryan Mason, and Jon Obika.
Tim Sherwood gave a very useful interview after the game: Spurs starlets need time to mature, says Sherwood
“For us it’s a case of getting experience and stepping up to see who can maybe go on loan to someone,” said Sherwood. “We haven’t got a team ethic in this group, it’s all about producing players for our first team and managing their careers from here on in.
He (Obika) is scoring goals, he just needs to find a home. We need to get him a good home to go to and get him some experience, but rest assured wherever he goes he will score goals, because that’s what the boy is all about.
Ryan [Mason] had a good experience at Yeovil, he did well for them and they did well for him. He’s looking to step up now. He’s technically gifted, he keeps the ball, he hates giving it away.
He’s getting fitter and a little bit stronger as well which is good news and I think he’s ready to step up to the Championship and maybe go on loan there to get a career before eventually, hopefully his Tottenham career.”
It’s good experience for them to know that if they’re going to go out on loan at this level it’s very physical.
That’s the way it is in England: if you’re outside the Premier League you’ve got to be ready for a battle. It’s good experience, when we come and look at them on loan we don’t judge what they’ve done on the pitch, we look at their attitude, which needs to be spot on, and their ability will come through.
It gets them used to the intensity of the dressing room. Some of these boys at Orient are playing for their livelihood, they’ve got mortgages to pay, so it’s good for some of these boys who think they’re going to be Tottenham players on big contracts to get a bit of an eye opener.”
Really positive comments from Sherwood – and pretty much exactly what I’d want to hear from him. I hadn’t previously held particularly strong views either way on him – on one hand, he was a big advocate of Didier Zokora, a cult hero to many, but certainly not to me. But on the other, I’ve noted his attendance (and his encouragement to the players) at the handful of U18 games I’ve been at since he joined the club – even when he was only part-time; this I found impressive.
He is spot on regarding Obika, who many Spurs fans seem to have written off. Indeed, I don’t think he is the greatest player (he was warming Millwall’s bench at the end of last season), but he is a player who can become a Darren Bent-style goalscorer in my opinion. He is also a very humble guy, with an excellent attitude towards the game.
Sherwood also calls it right on Mason – “He’s technically gifted, he keeps the ball, he hates giving it away” – that just about sums him up. I’d like to think that Mason has a future at Spurs, especially with Modric to learn from. He could become a Modric-type player, although he has shown in his U18 days that he also has the ability to score goals, so he will probably end up playing further up the pitch than Luka.
I would imagine that Sherwood will look to organise fairly regular friendly games for his group of professionals in the coming season, as well as keeping a close eye on the U18s – working as a link between John McDermott, the Academy Manager, and Harry Redknapp. One wonders where this leaves Clive Allen.
The Milk Cup
A Spurs U17 side participated in the well-known Milk Cup over in Northern Ireland last week. Our squad was as follows:
1 Reece Samuels
2 Kevin Stewart
3 Daniel Day
4 Ronnie Hawkins
5 James Yeboah
6 Ramil Sheriff
7 Laste Dombaxe
8 Freddy Champion
9 Alasan Ann
10 Lee Angol
11 Kenneth McEvoy
12 Luke McGee
13 Thomas Gardiner
14 Janoi Donacien
15 Samuel Smith
16 Victor Zapata Caicedo
17 Oliver Modeste
18 Alexander McQueen [I think they must mean Darren McQueen, who made his U18 debut aged 14]
A handful of these players had some U18 experience last year – McQueen, Yeboah and Dombaxe may be names that you’ve heard before.
We played in the Premier Section, which meant that we played County Londonderry first (26/07/10). We won this game 4-0, with Ronnie Hawkins, James Yeboah, Laste Dombaxe and Lee Angol getting the goals. The goals can be viewed here at 5:26 (although I’m not sure for how long); good to see Redknapp there watching. Number 4, Ronnie Hawkins, looks very comfortable on the ball, and seems to take set pieces too. According to some excellent eye witness reports from wlhatwhl on the brilliant COYS forum, Laste Dombaxe was the stand-out player for Spurs.
In our second game, we beat KV Mechelen of Belgium 1-0 with Dombaxe scoring a penalty, having been fouled himself. The full team team was Thomas Gardiner; Ramil Sheriff, James Yeboah, Janoi Donacien, Daniel Day; Laste Dombaxe, Kevin Stewart, Ronnie Hawkins, Freddy Champion, Lee Angol; Victor Zapata Caicedo.
We then met Donegal Schools in the Quarter Final. Having been 1-0 down for most of the game, Laste Dombaxe scored an excellent equaliser with two minutes to go, only for Donegal to score a screamer from distance a minute later. You can watch the goals here (this time they are first up in the video).
We went on to play Porto in the 5th-8th play-off, drawing 0-0 (unusual scoreline for a youth game!), unfortunately losing 5-4 on penalties. In our final match, we played Belevedere of Dublin, winning 5-0 and therefore finishing 7th out of the 24 teams.
Northern Ireland Milk Cup Winners – Etoile Lusitana (from Senegal – first African team to win the Milk Cup)
Runners up – Bolton Wanderers
3rd – Desportivo Brasil
4th – Donegal 93
5th – Aspire
6th – FC Porto
7th – Tottenham Hotspur
8th – Belvedere
As well as the Milk Cup, we have taken an U18 team to participate in the Eurofoot competition (as we do each year). We have been drawn in Group B.
The squad list for this one is as follows – some familiar names, and some less so.
1 Archer Jordan 12/04/1993
2 Dukes George 4/03/1993 [who I believe is either on trial, or has signed from Northampton Town]
3 Byrne Nathan 5/06/1992
4 Nicholson Jake 19/07/1992
5 Ekong William 1/09/1993
6 Lancaster Cameron 5/11/1992
7 Luongo Massimo 25/09/1992 [who was on trial with us last year, and could now have signed permanently from Sydney Tigers]
8 Carroll Tom 28/05/1992
9 Coulthirst Shaquille 2/11/1994
10 Kane Harry 28/07/1993
11 Prtichard Alex 3/05/1993
12 Oyenuga Kudus 18/03/1993
13 Ranieri Mirko 8/02/1992
14 Durojaiye Olumide 20/10/1992
15 Ward Grant 5/12/1994
16 Munns Jack 18/11/1993
17 Tapping Calum 5/06/1993
22 Francis-Angol Zaine 30/06/1993
In our opening game on Friday morning, we won 3-2 against Cercle Brugge. Kane, Oyenuga and Lancaster got the goals, and Kane popped up again in the afternoon, as we beat NAC 1-0.
Today we play Anderlecht, Standard and Brondby -you can keep up to date with the results here.
And finally… Billy Big Bostocks
John Bostock had plenty to say this week; some of it sensible, and some total nonsense in my opinion. Firstly, his comments on grass roots football in this country, which I think are sensible, intelligent and which many others would agree with:
“It [England U19 vs Spain] was the hardest game I’ve played, energy-wise. It felt like we were chasing shadows at times.
They have probably been brought up playing that way. They played like they were brothers on that pitch.
I’ve had some good coaches in my time but the problem with English football is it’s not consistent. Different coaches have different approaches.
In Spain it seems every youngster is coached the same way. It’s almost like it’s a belief. Individually we’re not that far behind them but as teams, we are.
Something has to change with the coaching. I’m not talking about the professional game, but right at the bottom from the age of six, seven because kids need to know how to play together.
Look at the senior England team. Individually, we have the best players in the world but as soon as they come together it’s not the same.
I think most of our youth coaches have taken the joy out of football. That is kicked out of us at a young age. Too much pressure is put on kids to go out and win games.”
I can’t disagree with Bostock on a lot of this – I do think there is a massive problem with grass roots football, and I personally get frustrated when I walk past the Sunday morning games, and see young kids playing 11-a-side on full-size pitches. How can that be helping their football? Other than fitness, it gives them very little. But really, that’s a discussion for another day.
Instead I’d like to focus on Bostock’s comments about how he has been blocked by foreign players:
“You look at the foreign contingent over here and they’re blocking us.
It’s so frustrating. You want to prove yourself, but it’s hard when you don’t get a chance.
Some players have been given chances – for instance, Jack Rodwell was given his at Everton and he took it. But the rest of us haven’t really been given that chance. Getting bits here and there is not really enough.
None of us know much about the new rule [8 home-grown players in a 25-man squad]. I just know clubs now have to put some of us in the squad.
But clubs are spending millions on foreigners and they still want to play them. It just means we will be sitting on the bench.”
Ignore all the lifestyle stuff that comes with being a footballer, all we want to do is play football.
That’s all any of us have ever wanted to do since we were young. We just want that chance to show we can play and hopefully we will get it.
I just want to play. The dream is to play for Tottenham but I want to play and if I have to go out on loan to prove myself then I will.”
And here’s what he should be saying:
“You can’t help but learn from quality players like Modric and Kranjcar. I stay behind with them a couple of times a week to try to improve as a player.
This season I’ll be working hard in training to catch Harry’s eye, and to try to get into the squad – then, who knows what can happen.”
Firstly, it’s a slightly bizarre comment, since Spurs have a lot of English players, and specifically in midfield, which is where he wants to play. Does he really think that if it weren’t for that pesky journeyman Modric, he would be a regular starter?
Secondly, can he really compare himself to Jack Rodwell? In my opinion, Jack Rodwell will be an England player within the next 18 months, and will probably be a mainstay for our national side for years to come.
I’m not a expert on John Bostock, but I think I’ve seen him enough times for Crystal Palace, Tottenham U18s and England (at all levels) enough to pass comment. I personally think that his biggest problem is that he believes his own hype. He hasn’t particularly impressed for the U18s, he hasn’t particularly impressed on loan at Brentford (although he put in a fine display and got two goals in his first game for them), and he hasn’t particularly impressed for England.
He is a skillful player, no doubt. He is also a big, strong lad. However, we all know that there is far more to being a footballer than this, which is something that John McDermott, the Academy Manager at Spurs is always keen to make clear. Take Sam Cox for example. He has now joined Barnet, but he was kept on at Spurs for longer than perhaps his skill level alone justified. This was because he brought a lot of other qualities – professionalism, a superb work ethic, a positivity in his place and in his communication to is team mates, and the ability to help set the tempo of a match. In my opinion, Bostock is desperately lacking in these areas.
Having his level of skill is all well and good, but you have to know how to use it. In this article, it seems to me that he is keen to blame others for his own failings, rather than getting his head and bettering himself. I find it disappointing, and I would not be at all surprised for him to slope off to another club at some point in the near future. If that were to happen there would be some Spurs fans, no doubt, who would blame the coaches for not getting the best out of such a prodigious talent. However, if you see this guy play – see how he is often on the periphery of matches, see how he doesn’t seem to want to roll his sleeves up, and see how he isn’t really fussed with the defensive aspects of the game – you really have to question why he thinks he deserves a chance over other players of a similar age. Particularly those who keep their mouths shut, and focus on their game.
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Join the conversation
The new restrictions do give an opportunity for youngsters to be in the squad but do not ensure that they will even be on the bench.
The training methods favour size and strength and loaning them out to the Championship reinforces this approach. The chances of a Fabregas or a Messi coming through our system are remote.
The focus has to change especially after Villarreal, not even in the top rank of La Liga.
Let's hope we avoid Spanish teams in the Champions' League if we make it.
A few loose thoughts
- Good to see Caulker given a long contract, seems to be becoming one of most hotly tipped youngsters (although, given that that mantle was previously held by players like Taarabt, Bostock, Ifil and Blondel, that's not cause for premature celebration)
- Also saw pro contracts awarded to Kane, Pritchard and Fredericks; suggesting that these are the highest rated of that age group - would you agree with that Windy? (I guess M'poku is already on a pro-contract of course?)
- All the noises coming from our academy are very encouraging, and very much in line with my views on how youth football coaching needs to change in this country.
- There is however still a huge chasm between youth football and the first team - and its hard to see when these youngsters are going to be blooded. Jamie O'Hara is an interesting case in point. He was playing reserve football for many years and had a so-so loan at milwall before he seized his his chance. Now despite people's urge to write him off I think he's a very solid and versatile squad player. Was that lucky break into the first team the making of him? Are we mad to not see he is still in development (hence why we loaned him out not sold him). That grey area bewteen youngster and squad player is so tricky given the ammount of quality in our squad.
Acton_Yid - thanks for the kind words. I urge you to also read this - one of the best blog articles I've ever read: http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/07/30/central-midfield-role/
JimmyG2 - as ever, thanks for commenting. Like I say, I do think Bostock talks some sense. However, I don't think he is any position to be suggesting that he is being directly blocked by foreign players. I also totally understand the mentality behind foreign players - they are frequently better value, better players, have better attitudes to the sport, and less trouble. Not in every case obviously. The sooner some money and expertise go into improving grass roots, the sooner we'll see a higher % of British players IMO.
Agree that the new rules are only a token gesture at the moment - when we (Spurs) argued for seven bench players, it was said that a big reason was so that we can bring on young players. Disappointed we've not used the extra two places more in this respect.
wispy - thanks for your comments.
On point one, agree, great news about Caulker. He has so much potential - hope he continues on the upward curve, and has another productive loan this season.
It was actually Tapping rather than Pritchard - I was quite surprised, as he didn't play too much last year. I'd certainly say that Kane and Fredericks are amongst the highest rated - M'Poku too (yes, he got a pro contract last year). I rate M'Poku so highly, he has bags of talent.
Yes, I think our Academy is generally doing an excellent job, although the proof is in the pudding. It will be interesting to see in two years how many of the Smith/Mason/Parrett/Townsend era have made a breakthrough - the first to be trained with the "Moniz" technical coaching methods.
Yes, agree about the chasm. The club obviously feel that loans are the best way to bridge that - it's hard to disagree, as reserve football was on the downward spiral. Improvements in the reserve league would help, but it's hard to see how they could improve the quality. Maybe rules about what types of player can play? Who knows?
O'Hara is a tricky one - he is clearly a good player, and would be a star performer in a mid-table side, but we have grown beyond that now. Unless he is prepared to settle for a squad place, I think he'll have to move on.
It's a perfect set up in some ways; it lets youngsters play together and alongside a fewveterans, playing under the best youth coaches. They play against teams battling for promotion/their livelyhoods so every game matters, and the senior team gets a conveyor belt of talent already groomed for particualar positions - and well instilled with the team ethic and style of play. The lower divisions get more coverage as a result.
In England though it would be hard to introduce such a system, even though it would benefit the national side. Which teams would get B-sides? The other championship teams would probably resent it, and talented youngsters would be even more cherrypicked by the big sides - ensuring that the elite remained the elite.
Davspurs - I take your point, and I agree with some of what you say, but he is so far below Lampard/Wilshere IMO. Wilshere is an unbelievable talent who has a great undertanding of the game. Bostock is more like Taarabt - a diamond in the rough. Nobody knows how to fit him into a side - he wants to play centrally, but he offers nothing defensively. If he plays for a side that mainly goes 4-4-2, he therefore has to play wide, and he just gets lost.
I agree that confidence is important, but I don't get the impresson that this lad is lacking it at all...
Incidentally, other than that goal for Egland U19 (which was a real shinner!), he was very poor IMO.
Of our loans last season, did you share my slight annoyance that so many didn't work out that well.
The obvious good fits were
Townsend at MK Dons
Caulker at Yeovil
Livermore at Peterborough
Button at Shrewsbury
The obvious bad ones were
Butcher at Barnet
Obika at Milwall
Townsend at Orient
Smith at Wycombe
Harry seemed to come out saying 'Lampard stood out wherever he was sent out loan, so should our lads' which I found concerning. Equally concerning is that a lot of the previous loans happen to have been to friends of Bent Arry.
I'd like to see more of our lads placed intelligently - in teams with the right style for them, and where they are not going to sit on a bench. I'm not saying thats easy, and that showcase friendly against Chelsea at the end of the season was a very good start. If we could stop our reputation for pointless recalling of players (Button, Livermore, Walke etc) then it might help the managers put more faith our boys on loan too.
I can understand how he feels, I love Nico, and Modric can win games on his own, but how can English football supportes (assuming you're English) really say that it is good to have so many foreigners playing in the top 4 (or 6) teams and only 1 English manager in the top 4 ????
If all the young English players were not good enough to play in the premier league I could understand it, but i have 2 words for you Danny Rose, goal of the season last year and who expects to see him more that about 5 times this season ???
IMHO that undermines everything he says about players young or old.
Maybe he is only what CM calls a "youth scout" able to spot potential rather than quality.
Trembly - appreciate the kind words, thank you.
Davspurs - you're on :)
Anonymous at 17:01 - name me English players better than those foreigners playing at top 4 clubs. There aren't any. As Harry Redknapp says in today's Guardian: "If the young players are good enough, they'll come through. And if you're having to play them just because they're young and English but they're not good enough, then the league won't improve. They've got to be good enough, wherever they're from."
Danny Rose has potential, but last season he was often warming Peterborough's bench - he's not ready for regular first team football yet IMO.
Anonymous at 17:19 - I kind of felt the same until I heard first-hand comments about how good he has been for the young lads already.