Date: 21st November 2008 at 1:22pm
Written by:

The whole ’15 players out of contract’ business leaves some feeling worried, even panicking that Pompey’s squad is going to massively diminished come the summer – why fear this, my thinking is we should basically rejoice in this to be honest!

Look at the names in this list, only 14 of them I am afraid as I cannot think of the missing name off the top…

Sol Campbell
Hermann Hreidarsson
Linvoy Primus
Noe Pamarot
Djimi Traore
Richard Duffy
Sean Davis
Richard Hughes
Glen Little
Jerome Thomas
Armand Traore
Nadir Belhadj

Putting aside the missing one, and the fact that two of these are loanees anyway, if say 75% of these players were released is it really going to do us much harm, other than dramatically reducing numbers squad wise?

Most of these are quite literally ‘making up the numbers’ and have little, or no 1st team experience so far this season and are unlikely to have any for the remainder of it – hopefully some can even be moved on in the New Year, if nothing else but to get the high earnings off the wage bill, and most probably get paid a decent amount! So money saved that is almost ‘wasted’ on most of these is going to help the club anyway!

Anyway, this is not what I wanted to really talk about, what I do want to talk about are our youngsters coming through.

Paul Hart – the fella in the image for those that did not know – and company are doing a fantastic job with the youth side of things, and he has worked wonders elsewhere in the past. Now we – the club – are constantly ‘waxing lyrical’ about the tremendous talent that we have coming through and want to bring through, in this day and age, and taking into account the number of bodies we are likely to lose come the summer it becomes even more essential that these kids start making inroads into the 1st team.

You have to be careful with the kids, you have to nurture the talent and guard against over exposure but as the old adage goes ‘if you are good enough you are old enough’ – 16, maybe even 17 is probably too young in the top-flight, unless you are immensely gifted. But bordering 17, 18/19 plus is an age where I feel if they are going to cut it as professional footballers they need to be given a go – this is something we must start to be doing.

Harry Redknapp was not one for blooding youngsters, he did at West Ham but to a degree he had no other option as money was not really available to him was it – whilst he did not have massive amounts of it here for long periods, his preference was always experience, he then moved onto quality and proven younger, but still not really young, talent before finding a kind of happy medium… Money does not grow on trees, so saving money and making it in others ways is important – and in the current financial economic climate even more so and Tony Adams has reference the youngsters that we have on more than one occasion – so maybe, even hopefully, he has a close eye on them…

Whilst these youngsters are not going to play for peanuts it is not inconceivable that 2, 3 or maybe even 4 could come into the 1st team later this season, or almost certainly next season perhaps, and be on a combined weekly wage that one of these names above earned a week alone – that would represent a huge saving on wages, and this brings our wage bill down dramatically, which as we know accounts for a massive amount of our expenditure…

Of course we do not just take this option simply to ‘save money’, we take this option if these kids genuinely are good enough – and there does appear to be more than a few that are coming through, with some now regulars in the reserves, to suggest they can make it. Arsenal have the right attitude, they have an endless conveyor belt of young talent – whilst I am not saying we will reach that level, as chances are we will not be able to, there is no reason why we should not carry on our academy growth in a similar way, and we seem to be doing that going in the right direction.

So, lets just say one of our kids is good, but not quite good enough then we sell him to an interested party – not release, sell – and that money is put straight back into the future youth development as players will eventually come through if we give them the chance. Once they start coming through others will take notice and the Pompey academy will be one that the local youngsters will want to go to more and more as opposed to others, as they will genuinely believe they are coming to a club that gives youth a chance and can produce top talent. If this talent is top, top talent, although we do not want to be a ‘selling club’ just think of the money that the top clubs – that will always take our best players eventually, unless we carry on our growth – will pay for them, this is all pure profit minus the costs involved in nurturing the talent, which can be used to strengthen the club and put towards the almost ‘rolling conveyor belt’ theory mentioned.

We need talent to start coming through, it has been far too many years since we saw this at Pompey – so starting to blend the players that we currently have with our own produce is even more of an essential thing for me in the current climate, and will reduce the impact of losing up to 15 ‘1st team professionals’, although I ask myself ‘could these kids really do any worse, or be any worse, than some of these so called 1st teamers’…

Our academy is believed to have been harvesting fruit, now it is time for this harvesting to yield some crops, and the sooner these crops are ready for picking the better – yep, these things take time, but if they are not good enough then we have wasted time and investment over the past few years, so it is my belief that some – of course not all, as that just is not possible – are ready, or nearly ready for the big stage, so lets give it to them!


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