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Fulham - The 'Youf'

Fulham - The 'Youf'

I'm one of those guys who likes a fairytale story; you know, a rags to riches kind of thing?

That's why I've always been a little disappointed (albeit secretly) with Fulham's ability to produce fine young footballers.

The only recent exception which springs to mind with regards to the above statement is that of Chris Smalling, but even he was a man who began his career elsewhere.

Don't get me wrong, I am of the whole-hearted opinion that Fulham do have a fine academy at hand, which is well run and produces good talent, yet, there's a gap between Reserve and Premier League football that Mr Continuity himself, Roy Hodgson, never helped bridge.

I'm sure, had Hodgson's tenure spanned over more than two-and-a-bit years, then perhaps a youngster or two would have been pitted against the big boys, but during Roy's reign I never felt he was going drop the tried-and-tested in favour of a fresher more youthful formula.

It is, however, of no detriment to Roy that I write this, as he ultimately won us football matches. Yet, given that we played so many games last season, I would have been one of few that welcomed the opportunity to flaunt some of the talent that were coming through the ranks at Motspur Park.

Wayne Brown, for example, is a player who showed great promise and is someone I kept an eye out for on his loan periods at both TPS Turku of Finland and Bristol Rovers. Hodgson himself took his time to praise the midfielder, but, he was never given that run in the first team to fulfill his potential.

Instead, he is shipped off along with many others who were given scholarships and given hope, only to be ignored at the final hurdle.

We do, like many clubs, possess a first eleven which has been bred from a whole host of varying youth systems; any youth system but our own.

It's a common thing and English football has come to grips with that. However, while we spend our mornings sipping tea and reading the paper, bemoaning yet more woeful England performances and calling for a more youthful aspect, we have to realise that the future of England starts at club level. It always has.

The National team will never truly create a 'Golden Generation' to be proud of unless sides like ours, sides that don't field star-studded line-ups every weekend, are able to filter through just a few little gems for their respective national coaches to sit up and take notice of.

Our new manager, Mark Hughes, gratefully seems to be a man who is fully aware of the positives some younger players can bring to a team.

The willingness to learn and impress is a good foundation upon which to build with younger players, and add to that the emotional connection they will hold with the club. I for one would be more eager to perform at a 'boyhood' club than any other and I'm sure any academy players that are given the opportunity will play with their heart on their sleeve.

Of course, success is paramount in football, and with the naivety of inexperienced players comes an element of risk. It is often said though, that risk comes hand in hand with reward, and I for one am of the opinion that Mark Hughes should be one to take a risk and begin to bring through our academy starlets.

I'm not asking for a revamped starting eleven of pre-pubescent 12 year-olds, but a steady stream of good young players being given that opportunity to impress, rather than rotting in the woeful competition that reserve football can bring.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Kristian Balkin
Date:Friday August 20 2010
Time: 9:17PM


Kristian - can you me at ANDREWJOYCE123@HOTMAIL.CO.UK - thanks
20/08/2010 21:27:00
youth is good look at young stickdale but alot of priemer leauge clubs dont want to risk it but thow one in for the last 20 minuets might not do much harm
truth sayer ffc
21/08/2010 15:42:00
And that's all I'm asking. Would love to see Briggsy get a few minutes on the field over the coming months.
21/08/2010 16:39:00
good points all around... it's tough for managers all around, as they need to focus on the results in the present in order to not get fired, instead of results on the long term to bring forth youth in the squad... listen to the groundswell on this site... we're all looking for a replacement for danny boy, wouldn't it be great if it came from within the club... stockdale looks like a keeper, which is to mean someone to hold on to, not the position he plays... we need more of that...
23/08/2010 14:48:00
still all the good young lads get snaped up by the big clubs even paying big money for teenagers which makes there youth policy look good man u arsenal ect there young star dont come from near by those days are gone
truth sayer ffc
23/08/2010 20:11:00
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