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Has our academy success peaked?


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Hi all - I’ve written a piece assessing the academy “Success” of the last 20 years for Derby.

Interesting that despite Cocu’s youth policy this season, he’s not yet had as much success as other managers.

Warning - it’s a long read! Available on Steve Bloomer’s Washing Podcast blog: https://stevebloomerswashing.com/2020/07/29/is-cocu-derbys-best-youth-promoter-ever-analysing-the-rams-academy-over-20-years/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

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11 minutes ago, Jonesy90 said:

Hi all - I’ve written a piece assessing the academy “Success” of the last 20 years for Derby.

Interesting that despite Cocu’s youth policy this season, he’s not yet had as much success as other managers.

Warning - it’s a long read! Available on Steve Bloomer’s Washing Podcast blog: https://stevebloomerswashing.com/2020/07/29/is-cocu-derbys-best-youth-promoter-ever-analysing-the-rams-academy-over-20-years/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Great piece. Thank you.

At the moment all we have is promise and potential.

It is up to these young stars to take the opportunity they have been given and to develop their games under the pressure and scrutiny of TV, the press and fickle fans.

They have two great stars to learn from in Cocu and Rooney. 

I would love to think that next season and for many seasons to come, four or five young players from the academy were amongst the first on the team sheet, regardless of who we buy.

 

 

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39 minutes ago, Jonesy90 said:

Hi all - I’ve written a piece assessing the academy “Success” of the last 20 years for Derby.

Interesting that despite Cocu’s youth policy this season, he’s not yet had as much success as other managers.

Warning - it’s a long read! Available on Steve Bloomer’s Washing Podcast blog: https://stevebloomerswashing.com/2020/07/29/is-cocu-derbys-best-youth-promoter-ever-analysing-the-rams-academy-over-20-years/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Good article if slightly misleading thread title!

Very correct that previous periods of youth integration into the first team were forced by dire financial circumstances - around 2003/04, I'm sure we fielded both Huddlestone and Holmes at 15 or just turned 16. Big Tom was physically reasonably equipped for men's football but Lee Holmes wasn't & interesting to consider whether players at that time were thrown in too early. Clough by contrast got the balance right & his insistence on a lean squad opened up spaces for likes of Hughes & Hendrick to emerge - by 2015/16, those opportunities had dried up.

Also interesting section about the money we've made from Academy graduates being sold over the past 20 years. I guess it highlights a) the value of developing talent internally & b) just how bad our recruitment has been, as we've clearly been buying at the top of the market or players with very little resale value. Other than Seth Johnson, I'm struggling to think of a big signing we've made in the last 20 years who we've sold on for a noticeable profit (doubled our money on Seth - Vydra & Ince fetched a 30-35% profit). Compare & contrast with a club like Brentford who perennially buy low & sell high. If we could get that side of our recruitment right (clearly the scouting for young talent is going well), we could go a long way to making Derby a genuinely sustainable club & hence, not needing often dubious outside 'investment'.

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Great piece. 

It is interesting that 30% of player sale revenue has come from the academy but I would argue that this is spectacularly poor value for money. Twenty years of academy investment and running costs has yielded about £33m. I think back in the days of the Ramarena the running costs would have been quite low but they certainly are not now. If we sold Bird, Sibley and Bogle for a combined £50m then it might be about break even point! I think I've heard that the running costs of the academy is in the £5m per annum region but I may have dreamt this figure. Obviously these players have contributed to the teams performance over the years as well and thus have saved us buying elsewhere at times. 

Overall, I would say that our academy has been very unproductive until very recently and this improvement is down to the increased investment by Mel. Given the top clubs' ability to hoover up all the talent at an early age, it means that most clubs are picking up the scraps from players that have been released by the big clubs. It is also disappointing that some young players are starting to move to Germany to get regular football as English clubs in the top divisions are less likely to play them due to the time it takes for them to get up to speed. 

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Just a couple of picky comments:

  • The title is very misleading as this is only the beginning for Mel's Minions / Cocu's Kids / Wayne's Wonderkids
  • Bolder was a 20 year old signing from Hull, so I wouldn't include him in the figures.
  • A line graph can be slightly misleading as from first glance it looks like we only had 3 seasons where significant minutes were given to academy graduate. I'd favour a bar chart. A stacked chart would be even better as it shows the spread between difference players. (see the below graph)

image.thumb.png.000314e1a618340b3aa39e255eadfeb6.png

 

From this graph, we have two obvious periods of low productivity:

  • Poison Dwarf / Porno Paul - There was a big dropoff in academy minutes when the former came in with Tudgay, Camp, Holmes and Nyatanga being excluded from the squad. The impact from both took a while to remedy. Didn't Davies sack off our academy, or is my memory playing tricks?
  • Mad Mel's Millions - Opportunities to the likes of Lowe, Bennett, Hanson, and others were restricted due to the big spending and large senior squads. The re-signing of Grant boosted numbers in the 13/14 and 14/15 seasons, and so too did Huddlestone in 17/18. Mel's investment in the academy has taken a while to bear fruit (10 years to reach maximum results)

Another way of looking at it is minutes given to academy players by year of birth.

image.thumb.png.47069b38bbb320ba156cfc3acaa85647.png

Take Hughes (1995) and Hendrick (1992) out and it's a shocking return over the past 10 years. Although, this can be said for other years too - Grant (1983), Camp (1984) and Huddlestone (1986) all make up the bulk of their respective years. 

2000 currently only includes Bogle and Bird. Dixon and Minkley could join them
2001 currently includes Knight, Sibley, Buchanan, Whittaker and JBrown. Cashin, Foster, Stretton and McDonald could join them
The 2002 crop looks highly promising with Archie, Wilson, Ebosele, Charles, LThompson, Cybulski and Matthews just some of the possible future debutantes.

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3 hours ago, Anag Ram said:

Great piece. Thank you.

At the moment all we have is promise and potential.

It is up to these young stars to take the opportunity they have been given and to develop their games under the pressure and scrutiny of TV, the press and fickle fans.

They have two great stars to learn from in Cocu and Rooney. 

I would love to think that next season and for many seasons to come, four or five young players from the academy were amongst the first on the team sheet, regardless of who we buy.

 

 

What really helps is not only is the club encouraging this, but these players are not doing it alone. Many good footballers don't cut it in the first team or higher up the EFL, through various other factors. It's great that the lads have peers throughout the club who are helping them out and that they have each other to relate and talk to about what it is they are going through. 

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4 hours ago, Jonesy90 said:

Hi all - I’ve written a piece assessing the academy “Success” of the last 20 years for Derby.

Interesting that despite Cocu’s youth policy this season, he’s not yet had as much success as other managers.

Warning - it’s a long read! Available on Steve Bloomer’s Washing Podcast blog: https://stevebloomerswashing.com/2020/07/29/is-cocu-derbys-best-youth-promoter-ever-analysing-the-rams-academy-over-20-years/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Interesting - But I think far too early to judge the current crop of players by any of the metrics assessed

I think there's a long term factor which needs to be taken into consideration - Top flight minutes for an academy player in their career (or maybe top 2 leagues for England) - Or for a decent spell of their career (unfair maybe to judge players who still play in Lg2 at 36 for example)

Bolder, Evatt and Elliott are classic examples - Evatt for example would probably be a success having spent a lot of years in the championship and a couple in the PL - But Elliott spent more of his time in the lower leagues

Hendrick, Huddlestone and Hughes have all gone on to loads of top flight appearances - Which I think is important to judge on - But we got a lot less than we thought we should for Hughes and Huddlestone because of circumstances out of our control - The flip side being we got much more for Hendrick cos of brilliant appearances when not wearing a Derby shirt!

I'd be interested running this again in 10 years time to see how the current crop (and future talent) compare - I think Bird, Bogle, Sibley, Knight and Lowe will all have long careers at this level or above - Which I think is more than we've ever produced at one time before

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9 hours ago, LeedsCityRam said:

Good article if slightly misleading thread title!

Very correct that previous periods of youth integration into the first team were forced by dire financial circumstances - around 2003/04, I'm sure we fielded both Huddlestone and Holmes at 15 or just turned 16. Big Tom was physically reasonably equipped for men's football but Lee Holmes wasn't & interesting to consider whether players at that time were thrown in too early. Clough by contrast got the balance right & his insistence on a lean squad opened up spaces for likes of Hughes & Hendrick to emerge - by 2015/16, those opportunities had dried up.

Also interesting section about the money we've made from Academy graduates being sold over the past 20 years. I guess it highlights a) the value of developing talent internally & b) just how bad our recruitment has been, as we've clearly been buying at the top of the market or players with very little resale value. Other than Seth Johnson, I'm struggling to think of a big signing we've made in the last 20 years who we've sold on for a noticeable profit (doubled our money on Seth - Vydra & Ince fetched a 30-35% profit). Compare & contrast with a club like Brentford who perennially buy low & sell high. If we could get that side of our recruitment right (clearly the scouting for young talent is going well), we could go a long way to making Derby a genuinely sustainable club & hence, not needing often dubious outside 'investment'.

The problem with Lee Holmes wasn't necessarily his physique - he was very pacy, tricky winger, so you don't need to be big and beefy for that. His problem was a perennial problem for Derby county -  when he played he had an impact on the game, but all too often he was kept keeping the bench warm while we floundered to get the ball into the box. Then he would be brought on with the game virtually already gone, and he would be tasked with turning the game round. Not only that, he was a left winger, but would often be played on the right, where he was much weaker. The kid never really got a chance, and ended up going out on loan, but never really made it after that. Such massive potential, but never realised, just wasted. Whether or not that wastage got to his head or not, I don't know, but we never saw what he really could have done for the club.

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15 hours ago, DavesaRam said:

The problem with Lee Holmes wasn't necessarily his physique - he was very pacy, tricky winger, so you don't need to be big and beefy for that. His problem was a perennial problem for Derby county -  when he played he had an impact on the game, but all too often he was kept keeping the bench warm while we floundered to get the ball into the box. Then he would be brought on with the game virtually already gone, and he would be tasked with turning the game round. Not only that, he was a left winger, but would often be played on the right, where he was much weaker. The kid never really got a chance, and ended up going out on loan, but never really made it after that. Such massive potential, but never realised, just wasted. Whether or not that wastage got to his head or not, I don't know, but we never saw what he really could have done for the club.

I seem to remember Holmes being very injury prone which I'm putting in part down to the age he was introduced to the team & that his frame at that point wasn't suited to that physicality. He made his debut for us at 15 & was a semi-regular at 16/17. He was always very slight & I'd question whether that 'sink or swim' approach to his career actually did him more harm than good. In terms of position, that may have been a consequence of rarely being available due to injury & therefore unable to take his favoured position (I think Marco Reich was LW by 04/05 & Billy Davies was unlikely to favour a player like Holmes when he arrived in 2006)

By contrast, Huddlestone was already physically the size of other players at 16 so the only thing he lacked was experience (and possibly confidence).

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On 31/07/2020 at 13:49, LeedsCityRam said:

I seem to remember Holmes being very injury prone which I'm putting in part down to the age he was introduced to the team & that his frame at that point wasn't suited to that physicality. He made his debut for us at 15 & was a semi-regular at 16/17. He was always very slight & I'd question whether that 'sink or swim' approach to his career actually did him more harm than good. In terms of position, that may have been a consequence of rarely being available due to injury & therefore unable to take his favoured position (I think Marco Reich was LW by 04/05 & Billy Davies was unlikely to favour a player like Holmes when he arrived in 2006)

By contrast, Huddlestone was already physically the size of other players at 16 so the only thing he lacked was experience (and possibly confidence).

That my well have been a factor, but I do remember him being on the bench match after match after match when we were struggling for someone to make something happen. So there were times when availability wasn't an issue. And when he finally did come on, something usually did happen, but as with Frank's striker substitutions at Wembley, it was too late to save the game. It was "the Derby way" - we did it with Georgi Kinkladze who was (a) either sat on the bench until the game was gone, (b) played in midfield getting neck-strain watching the ball fly 15 miles above his head on its way to the opposition goalkeeper, or (c) played out on the wing when his best position was in the hole behind the strikers. We did it with Simon Dawkins, whose running with the ball was of Rolls Royce quality, and messed with Will Hughes after his injury, playing him as a defensive midfielder, when he was completely out of position there, and with Chris Martin during Stevie Mac 2, where he was either on the bench or out on the wing. It is what we do, and I am sure we could have seen more of Lee Holmes if he had been played to his strengths. I met Lee on a number of occasions, and he never mentioned his lack of opportunity, to his credit.

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