After my last post my dear friend Saadiq Bey @Rovazzz said to me that I should do a post on player development, so here it is. Firstly I want you to know that this post is in no way the definitive guide to player development it’s my preference that works for me. There are a lot of good guides across the FM community on player development that work, so here is my way.
When I took the job at Inter I decided that I would spend more time on the player development side and drew up a blueprint for how I want to go about managing an academy on FM.
Day 1 I make an assessment of the facilities and looked to see were I could improve them. (Inter have excellent facilities) If I was at another club not so fortunate I would look to the board to improve areas of the academy as required, I would keep pestering the board over time to make the required investment. Next I look at the coaching staff both youth and first team. I like to have specialists in each area again this is driven by what budget you are working with. If I think a coach is not up to the level I want he is offered mutual termination of their contract and replaced by someone who I think can improve the quality of coaching on the training ground. I will again ask the board if required to increase the number of coaches that allows me to cover all areas of coaching with specialists. In the youth sector I know it’s obvious but I want coaches with high working with youngsters statistics and also high technical stats. The workload of the coaches also comes in to factor for me, I want ideally each category to have a light as possible workload.
I then move on to the squads, in Italy when you takeover you tend to have very big squads of players with loads out on loan with the majority on season long loans with no recall clause. I spend a lot of time making an assessment of the squads. At Inter we have the following squads 1st Team, Under 20’s and Under 18’s. I think of the youth team squads and name them like this:
Under 18’s (Youth team)
Under20’s (Development Squad)
I will refer to them like this from now on, Season 1 is set up like the following:
Year 1 (Youth Team) So the Youth team squad is assessed and left to my head of youth development to set up training both team and individual for the duration of season 1. I am happy to trust my staff to start the development process for year 1. I don’t interfere with the youth squad for the whole duration of the first season. Tactics are set up to mirror the first team.
Year 1 (Development Squad) Now with this squad you find a mix of players out on loan, players who are over the age of 20 who are not part of the first team and players of 20 or under who are still at the club. This is were I start to weird the axe if a player is not deemed part of my plan he has no future with us so they are either released or transfer listed this includes any players who are out on loan. My aim for this squad in year 1 is to start the process of both development of any players who I think have a future at the club and getting rid of players who have no future with me. Again tactics are set up to mirror the first team along with the training schedule again I let my staff set up individual training in year 1. If I think a player will benefit from being promoted to the first team I will do this straight away.
Year 1 (First Team) I run training both general and individual in line with my philosophy ( Juego De Posicion ).
Year 2 and Onwards (Youth Team) Now year 2 is were I analyse our squad and youth intake. What I do after analysing the squad I decide along with my staff who is going to be promoted in to our Development Squad and who is going to be released from the club. I make these changes to streamline the squad. Ideally the squad will be cut to between 22 to 25 players has I want the best players to receive the best coaching and game time within in our club at this level. I leave the training to to be set by the Head of Youth Development at this level. I am pretty ruthless with the cutting of players at this level because I don’t see any point in developing players who will more than likely not make the grade at this club.The above process will now be repeated each season from year 2. The Youth team won the Under 18 title in season 2.
Year 2 and Onwards (Development Squad) Any players returning from season 1 loans will now either remain in the development squad or be transfer listed or be released. Any player who I think is ready for the step up in to the first team will be introduced to the first team set up with a view of giving them a reasonable amount of minutes during the season ahead. Last season Puskas, Dimarco and Gnoukouri made the step up, unfortunately for Puskas and Dimarco they both had spells in the treatment room however Gnoukouri featured in 30 games over the season. All 3 players played a vital role in us winning the Europa League with key moments that turned games in our favour. Back to the development squad again the squad is streamlined to mirror the first team squad in numbers again ideally 22 to 25 players. They play with the same system as the first team. If my first team play with 2 inside forward and my development squad as 2 wingers do I start to train them as inside forwards? (Yes or No) You might be surprised but my answer initially is No, the reason for this is my development team manager will automatically pick them for the inside forward position by default if he doesn’t have an option there, we will get a good idea if the player is worth re training or if he is better off training in his natural position / role. My philosophy remains the same always but my player roles can change within the system. If I feel the club will benefit by re training a role then I will do it but it’s not set in concrete. So with the squad streamlined again players get good game time within the club. I always get a lot of requests for players to go out on loan however I want the players in the development squad to develop within our system but if I feel a player would benefit from a loan spell I will access the loan club and make a decision based on the players best interest. If a club wants a player on loan I will only let the player go if 1. The club can offer a level of football that is either equal or greater than that of our development squad, 2. They have a recall clause in their contract.
So a recap from season 2 all squads are streamlined to 22 to 25 players allowing for game time. Player’s are analysed during the season and a decision made about their futures at the club.
The Head of Youth Development is responsible for all incoming youth. The scouting network is also constantly looking for youth team players who fit a set criteria. We want to bring the best players in to the club and realise the future of our club is in player development.
I will always look to keep and bring quality staff in to the club this area is key to players development.
If you have read my last post you will know that our Development squad won the league and reached the Champions Cup Final losing to AS Monaco in the final. My next move will be to see what players may move in to the first team squad for the coming season and which players will make the step up from the youth team. Like I said at the very start this is my way of developing players which I am pleased with. Its my blueprint to developing players at the Inter Academy, like Bielsa and Guardiola I will give youth a chance in our first team.
Following on from this post I will include details of our player development progress in every post throughout the season.
Thanks for reading and thanks Saadiq you have inspired me to write this post.