July 8, 2012
Much has already been written about Tim Sherwood, our Technical Co-ordinator (at the time of writing!), with many anticipating that he will be promoted to a Technical Director/Director of Football style role.
As it stands, though, Sherwood is still very much focused on bridging the gap between our Development Squad (essentially those who have progressed beyond the U18s, either due to age or ability), and the first-team. Part of his remit, as we know, is to manage the loan players – ensuring that they are sent out to an appropriate loan club and properly handled when there.
Previous approach to loans
“I will sit down with the new manager and talk in more depth about his philosophy on loaning younger players. But I think there might be a change of tack, because we don’t really learn anything from sending players to the Championship for a second time.”
It is quite clear, then, that the Manager/Head Coach’s view on the loan system is a vital when it comes to decision-making. We know that Redknapp was a big fan of players going out on loan – in this interview with The National, he spoke of the young players he managed at West Ham, saying:
“I have always felt it is far better for talented teenagers to go out on a longish loan spell to a club lower down the leagues where they come up against seasoned pros and have the opportunity to play lots of games rather than sit on the bench or play in games that might come too easy for them.”
The problem with the approach taken last year (seemingly based on the above) was that we seemed too quick to get as many players out as possible with, it seemed, little thought as to the selected club. Whilst some players got regular action, others (Carroll, Mason, Khumalo, Bostock, Oyenuga, etc) were struggling to get regular games due to being either unsuited to the loan club’s style or indeed to the league that they were sent to play in.
It seems as though lessons have now been learnt, and Sherwood’s comment illustrates that we are prepared to lean from experience and change the way that loans are managed.
The interview was primarily about Harry Kane potentially returning to Millwall for the coming campaign, and Sherwood revealed that this would be unlikely:
“We don’t think there’s any value in loaning Harry out to the Championship again. He’s ticked that box. He may need a few more games if he’s not in the frame at Tottenham, but he’s going to be given every opportunity to prove himself to the new manager.
If the manager decides he’s not ready, that would be the only time we would consider loaning him out. But as we stand, we’re not looking to loan him.”
Villas-Boas will want to be able to have a close look at Kane in pre-season and potentially use him in the Europa League prior to making a decision on where he will spend the majority of the season.
Interestingly, Sherwood also gave some insight as to how Millwall were chosen as a destination – and it does seem to be a case of “who you know not what you know”:
“I know Kenny Jackett because we played together at Watford, so there’s a connection there. Millwall is a good move for our young boys because it gives them experience and it’s local.”
However, he was also quick to point out that even a “tried and tested” loanee club will not suit every player:
“Sometimes it works out, as with Kane, but sometimes it doesn’t, as with Mason.”
This, in my opinion, is the crux, and the key aspect of Sherwood’s job; Ryan Mason, the talented number 10, has not had too much luck out on loan, and it might be that he is a player who will be better off amidst the Development or even first-team squad, learning from Villas-Boas and his team. It’s Sherwood who ultimately has to make these decisions – which players are suited to loans (and where), which are better off within the confines of the club – and also to pull players back when things are not going to plan (as happened a couple of times last season).