“Look at Ajax, I want to be like Ajax”

The chances for players breaking into first team matchday squads are becoming fewer and further between for a lot of clubs in the upper English leagues, even the Championship is starting to become a breeding ground for average imports rather than young talent being brought through. The youth players do not even have to be English, young players of all nationalities are finding it harder to break through, as it seems easier to pick up a foreign journeyman who’s only redeeming feature seems to be that he’s over 23.
Southampton, Everton and Tottenham should be the benchmarks for bringing youth through, it’s quite incredible the players they have given debuts to in the overblown celebrity cash cow that is the Premier League.

 They are a great example that it can be done and coupled with good foreign recruitment it has to be the way forward.

Its a shame that some owners don’t see it like that, they’d rather focus on the short term! So many examples proving that just because a player is over 23 years of age doesn’t make him any better than an 18 year old counter part.

Clubs have given debuts to many younger players – Rooney (16), Giggs (18), Gerrard (18), Alli (18), Bale (18) and Ferdinand (18). You have to blood these players or they will just fade away into obscurity, which just sums up the problem with UK football.

Average foreigners over young potential. I dread to think where the current Ajax team would be if they were playing in this country and if Kylian Mbappe had been brought up through the English youth system he would probably still be playing in the youth team or reserves!

 Dele Alli, Marcus Rashford, Tom Davies, Harry Winks and Harry Kane are the current exceptions who have made their way through and Everton have played 4 teenagers this season, finishing 7th.

Ferdinand, Carrick, Defoe, Lampard and Cole would probably have never got a chance in today’s world as most current Chairmen/Managers wouldn’t even entertain it.

Boro have been a club renowned for bringing young players through their ranks (Ben Gibson being the only exception in recent years) and this activity seems to have become something of an afterthought, young players coming and going without ever breaking through, just becoming bit part players in the Under 23’s until a club willing to put them into the first team squad comes along and coughs up some cash. (Arnel Jakupovic being a perfect example).

 I’m not saying Jakupovic was ready for the first team, but I see Boro’s youth recruitment now as some kind of way just to generate a bit of extra money rather than develop for the future, and players like Ripley, Chapman, Cooke, Fry and especially Soisalo should not be looked upon as merchandise – as products to be sold – but the future of of our great football club.

Its time to swim against the stream, to try and emulate clubs like Southampton, Everton and Spurs – to stop living in a Football Manager computer world of throwing around silly money at average players – time to say “Look at Ajax, I want to be like Ajax”


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