Something Comes From Nothing
From day one, Frank Lampard had made no secret of his desire to provide opportunity for academy players in the Derby first team and has certainly walked the talk providing game time, contracts and high praise to Max Lowe, Jayden Bogle, Mason Bennett and Luke Thomas.
What does not seem to have received so much attention is the brutal axing of many of the aforementioned players peers, many of whom were well established members of the Derby U23 team.
Regular readers of this blog will know that we are no fans of Darren Wassall and have regularly called him out on his appalling record of promoting players to the first team; notwithstanding the unquestioned rise in status of the DCFC academy and their consistent success on the pitch against elite opposition.
So, with Frank arriving, giving these young guys a chance and them subsequently flourishing, the Wassall defence team would be well within their rights to suggest that the players were there all along and it was simply the priorities, attitudes and behaviours of previous managers that was letting us down. In fairness to Daz, there is much truth in that statement.
Now let’s consider the other side of the debate. It’s a well-known fact in all levels of Academy football that every club, at every age group, has 2 or 3 players it fancies and the rest are just filling shirts to get these guys through. This is fine in lower ages as kids develop differently, but at U23 level there is surely a cut off where somebody, at some point, says ok he’s not making it, let’s try someone else.
There is also the point that sometimes a player who isn’t good enough for Derby may be good enough for league 1 or 2 and command a small fee. £75k, £150k or £250k (and hopefully a sell on) isn’t going to help the DCFC first team but it’s a cracking chunk of change to put back into the academy pot. Specifically, if Derby started regularly cashing out on a couple of lads at that level each summer, it could easily be half a million quid a year towards the budget and again a nice little build up of sell ons for anyone who unexpectedly flourishes away from the club (It still blows my mind that Izale Mcleod became a £1m striker!). Until this summer when did anyone from the academy command a fee? (Don’t say Will Hughes because that’s not what I mean). Big Faz Rawson for one had been on loan in the Championship but still somehow ended up leaving on a free.
This summer we have seen Charles Vernham, Jamie Hanson, Callum Guy and Zanzala all leave for transfer fees. We have also seen Timi Elsnik, Alex Babos and Jonny Mitchell leave on loan noticeably without the high praise and commitment heaped on Thomas and Lowe. Anyone think any of those three will make it at DCFC? Me neither but a good loan might equal £100k in January. In other news, Tyler Walker’s purple patch last season also couldn’t save him and he was axed just before the last window. Ethan Wassall remains a mainstay of the U23 defence.
So who was responsible for this change of attitude and policy? Wassall? Mel? Jody? Frank?
In my mind, I love the idea of Wassall squirming whilst being grilled by Jody about the players. A bit like a Sales Manager interrogating a hapless salesman about his questionable pipeline. “Is it going to close this month/Can you see him ever making the first team?” “Are you talking to the decision maker/how often has he been involved with the first team” “How long has this opportunity been open?/ How long has this kid been in the group? 4 years? FFS” – Conclusion “This isn’t happening is it Daz, lets fuck him off and give Louis Sibley a chance”
The reality is probably somewhere in the middle. The Academy has clearly been producing players but Derby County, as a club, simply haven’t had a scooby what to do with them and/or how to manage them.
Chelsea have a youth system that is renowned around the world for the quality of player it produces but it is equally notorious for its brutal loan policy and shameless revenue generating policies. It seems clear that some of that has been brought to the DCFC party by Jody and Frank.
It is also now clear that the youth players at Derby have been there all along, so no one can deny that Wassall is doing something right. However, now he has a manager who believes in youth and an assistant who understands what good practice looks like, we will hopefully see a continued stream of homegrown talent in our squad alongside a steady stream of nominal fees and add-ons for those who don’t make the grade.
Failing that, I guess Frank will just swap Daz out for another ex-Chelsea colleague!
It will be interesting to see how this one develops over Lampard’s tenure at Derby.
Posted on September 8, 2018, in General Rams Comment and tagged Darren Wassall, derby county, derby county academy, Frank Lampard, Jody Morris, ramspace, the rams. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.