Date: 11th January 2013 at 8:38am
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A wise man once said that in football you’ll never win anything with kids, however he was spectacularly proved wrong during the 1995-96 season when SAF’s class of ’92 swept all before them to record a famous league and cup double.

In an age when transfer fees are sky high, and wages for the most desirable players ‘obscene’, scouting and nurturing your own talent can be worth its weight in gold, however this process is uncertain, and there are many pitfalls in determining whether young players will develop through the system to succeed, or will fail. How therefore can it be determined whether to persist with a certain player, or to allow that player to leave the club?

At Spurs we now have a brand new training facility along with a young, progressive manager, and a good youth team who performed admirably in last season’s NextGen. In recent years we have developed young players such as Bale, Lennon, Sandro, Walker, Naughton, and Caulker. The effect has been to create a young, talented team whose value, if sold will greatly exceed the fees we paid for them. Many of the youth players currently on our books have been at the club for quite a few seasons.

Names such as Obika, Mason, Smith, Kane, Bostock and Rose spring to mind. All of these players apart from Kane are or will be over 21 next season and will need to be registered in the 25 man squad. Obika is an interesting case as he has been at the club since 2008, and will be 23 next birthday. He is a local lad, has come through the academy , and has been loaned out to Yeovil and other teams each year since he joined. In a position where we are crying out for somebody to step up, could Obika be the answer? If not, does he have a future at Spurs, as AVB would find it hard to use a squad place for him if he isn’t deemed to be good enough at our level.

It may seem harsh to cast him adrift, but what are the alternatives and how does the club make that decision? Similarly Bostock who joined amidst a crescendo of hype, will be 21 next birthday, and will also need to be registered in the 25. His loan spells haven’t been successful, and it is safe to say that he has failed to live up to the high expectations that were expected of him when he joined. The talent is there, so do we give him longer or release him once his contract is up?

The same question can be applied to players such as Mason, Rose and Townsend. How long do we give these players to realize their potential? There is a risk of releasing young players too early in that another club could benefit. I don’t think that Spurs have made too many of these types of mistakes, however Kevin Prince Boateng has gone on to greater things since he left us. He was awful at Spurs, more interested in his hair and his tattoos, but since leaving he went on to have a big impact in the 2010 World Cup and has since become a mainstay of the AC Milan first team. One that got away?

We have similarly released other so called ‘talents’ recently in Adel Taraabt and Gio Dos Santos. Taraabt was dubbed the new Zidane, however he never learned how to play the team game at Spurs, was sold, and has since done alright for QPR, but is still an enigma. Dos Santos came to Spurs with an exotic name and a high degree of promise, but he never applied himself and only made 17 appearances in 4 seasons at the club.

It is clear now especially with the impending FFP regulations that development of youngsters is paramount for success for all but a select few clubs. The Wesley Sneijder situation reported this week shows that even the big clubs are beginning to feel the pinch. I believe that the motivation to develop the youth is there at Spurs. We have the right manager and a Chairman who has shown with the purchases of Holtby and Fryers that he believes this will be the direction to take for future success.

Thank you for reading my article and a belated Happy New Year to all at VS from Cleveland Ohio.

Written by Cleveland ARTSPURS