Sunday, June 24, 2007


Department of Youth - another update

Craig Foster has been returning to the land of reality somewhat over the last few months. His latest piece, though containing a few peculiar statements ("frontrunner to inherit the Scott Chipperfield crown" is not the way even most Sydney FC fans would describe David Carney), is worth a read.

Extending the length of the A-League season should indeed be a top priority for the FFA. Leaving aside the player aspect, football must be able to maintain a reasonable profile in the "off-season", and when that off-season does not feature a World Cup or Asian Cup, that may be hard to engineer.

Yet the key issue, which Foster hints at towards the end of the article, is that a 21-game season is simply not enough for a player aspiring to play professionally at a high level.

As for the following statement:

Do I take the highest bid given that football is a precarious career at best, or choose the biggest club, the best coach to learn from, or the best league to improve my game? And how important is the language barrier? It's a maze of variables to negotiate.

It is time for the FFA to design a better support system to encourage better choices...

I'm reminded of a suggestion I made here. Some dispassionate advice on club choice would surely be welcome for the likes of David Carney and Mark Milligan; perhaps Foster is considering his own move to Crystal Palace in 1998, which proved such an unfortunate decision.

And the language barrier is not to be underestimated (consider, for instance, the case of Claudinho at Melbourne Victory last season). Foster's implication throughout seems to be that Carney's mooted transfer to Sheffield Wednesday - a club in the English second tier - will not be beneficial for his development. He may well be right, but Carney has played in England before, he is familiar with the culture and the language, he probably has friends over there to help ease the transition.

It's important, as always, not to overlook personal considerations when looking at things from a developmental point of view. In the long run, the player and his family will choose whichever option they feel fits them best, and future national team considerations can only ever play a marginal role in the decision.

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