Hasenhuttl Prioritises Academy Before Transfers But A Balance Needs To Be Struck
Monday, 13th Jul 2020 09:33
It is great to see some young players breaking through into the Saints first team and making their mark, but youngsters need nurturing and we also need soe experience in the side especially in the centre of defence.
Older Saints fans will look back to the 1950's- 1980's when there always seemed to be a great youngster or two coming through the ranks, Ted Bates started the ball rolling with the likes of Terry Paine, John Sydenham and Mike Channon and Lawrie McMenemy built on that foundation with the likes of Steve Williams, Danny Wallace and many more, even Chris Nicholl enjoyed a golden period with Matt Le Tissier and Alan Shearer et al, but it dried up a little in the 1990's when only a very few players broke into the first team and established themselves.
The Academy had to be revamped, but the problem was that you have to start at the beginning, these days kids are signed before they reach 10, so we were scratching around and struggling to get the true quality we needed.
I have always maintained that you only find out how good your recruitment process is 10-12 years after the event, when Luke Shaw broke through in 2012 he had joined the club in 2003 aged 8 and then been nurtured by our coaching system since then, the fact that he was in the first team in 2012 was not a testament to the manager or academy heads then, it showed that we were getting things right in 2003.
So the likes of Will Smallbone and Jake Vokins breaking through now are telling us what our academy system was like in 2008-2010 etc etc.
But when we consider whether we should look to the academy or transfer window we should also remember that Bates, McMenemy and Nicholl did not use just youth, there was always experience, each brought in those who could pass on their experience to the youngsters, Alan Ball was a great mentor to Steve Williams, Jimmy Case did a similar job for Chris Nicholl's team.
This is where we are lacking now, if Pierre Emille Hojbjerg goes to Spurs then we could replace him from within the club, Oriel Romeu has been a player of the year, some would argue he is better than Hojbjerg, Will Smallbone could also do a job.
But the real issue in the tem has been the centre of defence and has been since January 2017 when Jose Fonte left in a huff and Virgil Van Dijk was injured, we have never replaced them.
In every game this season we have been found wanting in the centre of defence because we have no leadership and organisation there, it happened again on Thursday at Everton where a simple long ball up the field found Richarlison completely on his own with not a Saints defender near him, that is not a lack of ability it is a lack of a leader and this needs to be addressed.
You have probably read all this before from me, why do I keep on like a broken record ? because nothing has changed, in every game since the restart we have been found wanting at the back, just in some more than others we have got away with it.
The solution to this problem is not within the club, it needs to be solved by experience, Jack Stephens will be 27 in the coming season, he has some good qualities but clearly he is not an organiser and a leader, Jan Bednarek is no longer a promising youngster, he has played over 60 Premier League games and played in the 2018 World Cup finals for Poland, he is a great blocker of the ball and stopper, but he is not the cultured player we need.
Both are at an age when they are not going to suddenly change, if organisation was within them, they would have already shown them.
The centre of defence is the one area where you need an experienced leader and we have not got one and that has cost us dearly.
So I agree with Ralph in the fact that he has to look at his academy before spending money, but he also needs to strike that balance, if we had signed Gary Cahill last summer, it would have made a big difference, yes he was way past his best but he would have organised the defence and made a big difference and we would have cut out those frustrating lapses that have cost us so dearly.
So we do not perhaps have to spend big in this transfer window, but we do have to spend and we need to spend it wisely, another promising 21 year old Central defender from the continent might improve us, but we need organisation and experience and they will not have that.
Photo: Action Images
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