Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Abdi's new deal

Our Somalian/Norwegian teenage midfielder has signed a new deal until 2014. It's certainly good news for those who don't want to see the Academy production line swamped by the new money. Although the real proof will be in these players continue to get games, just as Stephen Ireland, Nedum Onuoha and Micah Richards did when they were teenagers. Ibrahim is confident of getting games:

“The boss has been great with me and the other lads,” praised Ibrahim.

“He’s a really good coach and he believes that if you are good enough, you are old enough and that sends a very positive message to all the young players at the club, particularly the next group of Academy players coming through."

It's quite a big unanswered question about MCFC at the moment: just how committed is the Roberto Mancini/Brian Kidd/Brian Marwood management team - such as it is - to the continuation of the youth policy of the Jim Cassell days? I've written about this before: my prediction, in short, is that the appointment of Mancini represents a short-termism that will strangle traditional youth development. Mancini disputes this:

"I am a manager who puts a lot of faith in bringing players through the Academy system and who has been pleased to give several City players their chance to play in the first team."

He's certainly been good in this respect so far. He's granted debuts to Ibrahim, to Greg Cunningham, to Dedryck Boyata and to Alex Nimely. That is to be applauded. But anyone can throw on a teenager in a cup game. The proof of the commitment will be in the summer. If Mancini really cares about youth development then he'll hold off the big money buys. Why spend £18million on Fernando Gago when we can bring through Ibrahim and Michael Johnson? Why spend £10million on Cristian Ansaldi when we can bring through Greg Cunningham and Ryan McGivern? And why spend £20million on Edin Džeko when we could bring through Alex Nimely and John Guidetti? The answer, of course, is that Gago, Ansaldi and Džeko are better players than our kids and we're more likely to win things with them. But arguents for young players aren't made on grounds of guaranteeing quick success: it's about stability, affordability and 'doing things the right way.' And ultimately I don't think those things are as high up the priority list of Mancini, Marwood, Garry Cook and ADUG itself as becoming very successful very quickly.

I'm not against becoming very successful very quickly - of course I'm not. But I think we need to be clear about how we're going to do this. And as much as I want Abdi Ibrahim to boss Manchester City midfields for years to come (well, not as much as I want Michael Johnson to), I just don't think the City hierarchy have the patience to allow it to happen. But I'd love to be proved wrong.


Scragg said...

Top top article mate. Great analysis

wizzballs said...

What encourages me is that Mancini seems to know the right time to pick teams with fringe/youth players. Overall I am very impressed with his approach to rotation and blooding players. He has given players chances whilst hitting his targets.

I definitely expect more mid-fielders to join next year, but as we will also lose a suprising number of players this summer, possibly as many as 8, including loans and out of contracts, I also expect Ibra and Boyata to get some games. I believe that 10 games should be enough for most first year pro's.

thomas said...

nimely, abdi, boyata - the same calibre of balotelli, santon, crisetig? I'm not sure. I think we will see alot of 'arsenal esq signings, poaching youth talent, Cook has already signalled this intention!

cracking article jpb

City Slicker said...

I don't think its a question of a "grow your own" or "buy a team" philosophies. The two can run quite happily alongside each other. The over riding rational though, has to be, that if you are good enough you will make it. Its also worth remembering that having high quality players around the young and developing kids is both an inspiration and encouragement. This is only the start of something very special.

Philip said...

There's definitely something in what you say. Certainly, the Chelsea precedent suggests that it's very difficult to 'buy' success and develop youth at the same time.

That said, we are not Chelsea - for a start, we have a better tradition of developing our own than they have ever had. The two approaches definitely aren't incompatible if you pick the right moments to buy, and the right moments to promote from within.

Good signs in this respect from Mancio so far - yes, it's easy to blood youngsters in cup games, but less easy to trust one at the heart of your defence for two crucial semi final games against your bitter rivals. That is something Hughes would never have done, for my money.

And, although it's slightly different, Mancio's willingness to play AJ over SWP also augurs well.

What is important is that we develop, or retain, players who have a feeling for the club. Whether they are academy products or purchases of prospects like AJ (and Kompany?) is ultimately not of such great importance, but to have players who are loyal to something beyond the £ is very important.

Johnny Crossan said...

Not for the first time you've lost me here Lonely. Youth development is clearly not an either or. Perhaps it would help me if you put a link in for your previous post on the subject.

StanMCFC said...

Interesting sentence in one of recent Manchester Online articles:

"One of the perceived problems with Mark Hughes' reign was that there was little discourse between the first-team set-up and Platt Lane."

Seems like MEN journalists have finally forgiven Mancini for replacing their beloved Sparky Hughes...