The Conveyor Belt

Last summer Clough mentioned the concept of a “conveyor belt” of players a couple of times. The idea that young players progress and other players move on. A nice idea in theory but in practice, one that could cause upset as players are either sold or declared “not part of the plans”.

The concept of the conveyor belt can operate at several levels, especially with the introduction of the under 21s team. Our young players can become victims of it (e.g. Gallinski has slipped down the pecking order since signing Gjokaj) and the team creates a young understudy for every first team spot in a way the reserves never quite did.

By my reckoning, we currently have at least seven players coming through who are looking for a regular first team spot in the next season or two: Jacobs, Freeman, Gjokaj, Doyle, O’Brien, Legzdins, Ball – with Bennett and possibly Hoganson (haven’t seen enough of him) following behind.

People might scoff at Doyle, as he’s not taken his chances when given, but he’s a young player who edged Ben Davies off the bench for the first few months of the season – and that is exactly the concept of the conveyor belt in action.

Last summer, Paul Green and Miles Addison were classic examples of victims. Although we signed Coutts, Clough was clear that the emergence of Hendrick and Hughes had already made Green surplus, whilst OB and Tom Naylor were named as players ahead of Addison. Both Green and Addison were popular players and had we not had the production line coming along, may well have stayed.

Ironically, Tom Naylor is in danger of becoming a victim himself as the addition of Gjokaj and Freeman have nudged Naylor out of favour. Along with the aforementioned Ben Davies; Naylor and James Bailey make up a trio of players who have found themselves outside the squad at the expense of developing players.

There have been grumblings about Bailey (myself included last season), whilst Green and Addison also had a lot of goodwill from Rams fans. However, the controversial moment will be when we make a big sale and replace from within. Not necessarily Hughes but the likes of Bryson, Keogh or Brayford. Players who could play in the Premier League, deserve to do so, but may not do so with The Rams. Players who will attract a decent fee.

The concept of an in-house replacement is an ideal one and certainly beats scrambling around for loan cover (think – the Rasiak sale). So we either wait for players to go off the boil and get nothing (nothing devalues a player like being out of the team) or we sell a player when we perceive the bid to be a good one. Either way, the likes of Jacobs, Gjokaj*, Freeman and OB* won’t warm the bench for ever.

*Obviously the “Keogh’s partner” slot is there for the taking for one of these two!

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Posted on November 16, 2012, in General Rams Comment and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. The conveyerbelt theory is more then likely correct, but I think it has its merits. Especially as we are not in a position to gamble 5 million pounds on 2 or 3 players who may (or more likely) may not get us into the play offs and then the premier league.
    Even if some young talent from our academy or young players with ability who were recently acquired (nearly all for minimal fee’s) end up making way, hopefully Clough is replacing them with (in time) potentially more valuable assets.
    If you take the sentiment out of this, it makes perfect business sense. And In 2 or 3 years hopefully we will either have a very good or very valuable squad or a better bank balance and decreased debt (if we cash in on the Hughes and the players mentioned above in the article)
    Maybe I’m looking at this through rosé tinted glasses but I think Clough is trying and slowly suceeding in getting a mix between all three options (improved squad, more valuable players and money in) which if we are all patient, should eventually pay off!
    The fact that we are even discussing selling good players and players we think are decent being replaced with young talent to me suggests we are moving in the right direction.

    • I agree entirely. I think its an altogether good thing that we have players pushing the first team who are (to use the overused cliche) “young and hungry” and the contract situation is well under control (i.e. those falling off the end of the belt tend to be in the last year of their contract).

  2. Hi guys,

    Crystal Palace have had a good academy for years and the benefits are there for all to see. They’ve benefited from having a great catchment area in south London, but with the whole of Derbyshire to mine, so should we.

    Youth development is now the only game in town. Financial Fair Play is intended to stop the ‘casino’ owners and while it also means that a local boy made good like Lionel Pickering can’t just throw money indiscriminately at his hometown club, spend on academies isn’t counted in the figures. It will hopefully deter the worst of the speculators.

    The way to do it now is to grow your own players. Green and Addison were much more expensive than the homegrown Hendrick and Hughes and that was the key to letting them go. Think back to when Clough was very keen to sell Hulse to Boro for top dollar – he can only afford to have players who have their best years ahead of them. Which also means we have to put up with a team who are not going to batter all comers, unfortunately.

    Not every prospect will come through, but if you build a stable of them, one or two could become stars. Hughes will pretty manifestly be the first to go, but the club can hail it as a real success – producing a player good enough to go right to the top, nurturing him, giving him the chance to play, then taking a nice fee as the reward (hopefully – better had, anyway!) This will be great when talking to parents of other young lads about coming to Derby ahead of other clubs.

    The big clubs are organising the game so that the vast majority of teams become nurseries of talent for them to keep an eye on (EPPP = Egregious Player Pilfering Pisstake, I think). FFP will sort of formalise the process of excluding small clubs from the Premier League riches, but we will still have a chance of getting there, if we can run the club properly. If we’re in a position to truly capitalise when the big clubs knock on for Hughes, the funds could help us fund a play-off push.

    Of the current crop of U’21s, I don’t think Ball or Naylor will make it with us. I would like to see O’Brien force his way past Buxton and O’Connor into the team, because in the absence of Barker, we are short in central defence. Bit too early to say with the others!

  3. Interesting article, a good read & with some great feedback.

    “slowly suceeding in getting a mix between all three options (improved squad, more valuable players and money in)”

    Yes, players whose value appreciates, save on fees and also generate income. It sounds like the club is constantly striving to improve (in the Academy, lots of competitition). Clough’s team has evolved since he has been manager: they were the players inherited from the past; his own signings, several who didn’t make the impact hoped (Croft); and now we’re seeing Academy graduates as first team regulars.

    “(EPPP = Egregious Player Pilfering Pisstake, I think)”
    Ha, ha, ha. Very good. Agree with the rest of your point as well. Listening to TalkSport, it’s clear that further down the League pyramid, like the Championship, sides are having to economise & Academies increasingly occupying a central role.

    People say Crystal Palace haven’t spend money, but then where did Zaha emerge from? As well as others. I think Derby are beginning to get a better reputation for nurturing young players and this could benefit us in that

  4. People say Crystal Palace haven’t spend money, but then where did Zaha emerge from? As well as others. I think Derby are beginning to get a better reputation for nurturing young players and this could benefit us in that younger players might select to come to us as they know they stand a chance of getting into the first team rather than getting lost in the system at a PL club, particularly the elite ones.

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