Lame Academy (excerpt from Who’s Pereplotkins?)
In 2008/9, we were as concerned as Nigel about the lack of young players coming through to play for the Rams. Concerned enough to close the book Who’s Pereplotkins – and other tales from Derby County’s 2008/9 season with a passage about the dire state of our youth development. Here it is (I have to say, I was on the ball a few years ago!)…
As the season closes, 2008/9 becomes the third consecutive season that the Rams have not had a home-grown debutant starting a league game – that’s no one since Barnes, Nyatanga and Addison were introduced in the Brown/ Westley era in 2005/6.
The end of the season also coincides with the departure of academy boss Phil Cannon, making room for the fourth different academy regime in as many years. Blame the managers; blame the academy bosses; blame the scouts; blame the players for being simply not good enough – draw your own conclusions but these are the facts:
The following graph shows League debutants per year excepting those coming on as sub in the last game of the season (e.g. Simmons, O’Brien, Dudley):
2002-3 Twigg, Tudgay, Grant, Hunt, McLeod, Mills, Holmes, Camp
2003-4 Huddlestone, Doyle,
2005-6 Barnes, Nyatanga, Ainsworth, Addison
So what does this tell us?
The first and obvious point is that production seems to have dried up in the past few seasons. Or has it? With the absence of a reserve team it is difficult to know who is knocking on the door of the first team. One thing for sure is that both Davies and Jewell were very reluctant to introduce home-grown players. Although Jewell belatedly reintroduced Addison, it should be remembered that Jewell used and signed an astonishing number of players and Addison followed 20+ Jewell signings.
The great shame of all this is the amount of money spent on agents fees, loan fees, transfer fees and wages, when in some cases, all we needed to go was shout down the corridor. Let’s take two recent examples: if we wanted someone to play right-wing a couple of time before deciding he wasn’t up to it, why didn’t we just play Paris Simmons instead of signing Pereplotkins? If we wanted a young defender to be our fifth sub, why not use under-contract Jason Beardsley or Mitch Hanson instead of signing Seb Hines (a player signed on loan from Middlesbrough by Chris Hutchings who failed to appear in a single match for The Rams)?
Consider this: Tudgay, Grant, Hunt, McLeod, Mills, Holmes, Camp, Ainsworth, Evatt and Doyle have all made careers for themselves at Championship level or below. The total amount of money we received for these players is less than we paid for the season loan of Kazmierczak (excepting the sell-on clause for McLeod). The theory that the grass is always greener, when it comes to signing players, has held sway for years and cost The Rams a small fortune.
Fortunately, Clough is trying to do something about it with the new development side. Young, hungry players who won’t cost the earth and could supplement the first team squad when required. If you consider the contribution of Davis and Todd for the past couple of years – and the huge expense incurred – it makes perfect sense for someone like Jake Buxton to be playing the kind of bit-part role latterly held by Todd and Davis. If he performs as poorly as the aforementioned pair, there’s nothing lost. If he’s up to it, we’ve got a Championship standard player for nothing.
So here’s to another new era of development, let’s just hope it brings us a player or two.