PDP Assistant Editor, Jon Hoggard, takes a lighthearted look at some of the recent top stories in world football, through the eyes of the Player Development Project.
Culture of fear driving the merry-go-round?
Roy Hodgson, Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew managing in the Premier League. Name the year. 2005? Nope, 2017. Why do the same few figures keep cropping up at the top tier in English football? It’s partly down to fear. West Brom, Everton and Crystal Palace are not expecting these managers to do anything other than keep the status quo; to keep at bay the terrifying prospect of relegation to the Championship, and the financial implications that come from dropping into that notoriously difficult league. Or worse still, the possibility of ‘doing a Leeds’ and plummeting through the tiers.
Development, progress, ambition. All are missing from these appointments – they’re a safe pair of hands and on that basis can command huge contracts. The knock-on effects of these fear-driven managerial appointments are a lack of development opportunities for players and younger managers. Can you risk playing that 17-year-old unproven talent? Can you risk gambling on an up-and-coming manager with no Premier League experience to stave off relegation? These clubs have answered no, and so blockages begin to appear in development pathways on and off the field. The overwhelming fear drives clubs into only appointing ‘proven Premier League experience’ even if that experience hasn’t ever yielded results, enjoyable playing styles, or silverware. And the fear permeates to next year’s out-of-form clubs, who will again look to appoint whichever of Pardew, Hodgson or Allardyce has been sacked by then, and the status quo continues.
Wouldn’t it be great to see a club on the slide either keep the faith with their current manager or look to appoint someone new? Yes, it’s a risk, but stifling the culture of fear around this needs to happen to provide the opportunity for the talented coaches currently being overlooked.
English youngsters embracing new cultures
We’re firm believers that ‘who we are is how we play’; meaning that the socio-cultural backgrounds of each football player affects their playing style and approach to the game. Not only does a player’s country of birth, childhood location and football education exert influence, but so too do the various cultures that individual is exposed to throughout their careers. And it appears that this message is starting to get through to youngsters in the game, who are starting to look further afield for development opportunities afforded by playing in different cultures to their own.
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