When a football team realises that it needs to do something to address its current form or to attempt a challenge for the top they have a couple of choices. They could go out and spend a fortune on a new manager or a superstar player, hoping that either one of these things may provide a quick fix to the problem. They may be a team that comes close but never quite makes it or a team that is struggling at the bottom of the table. Either way there is no real vision to the change, it is just hopeful spending that it might trigger a change in fortune. The problem with this method is you rely on that quick fix the following year. What happens if it doesn’t work? Do you just spend again, fire fight the situation?
The alternative is to look at the other end of the club. The recruitment at youth level, the investment at this point is a longer term vision but if done well will provide a stream of quality, that develops over time and shares a vision. It is not a quick fix but a real investment that each year that follows should be the same, it should have a more stable feel and does not result in panic decisions being made. This system means that you look at your recruitment links (primary school links?) and your academy structure (KS3 curriculum) If these areas are in place then you are developing the right type of player at a young age, with all the skills to succeed at the top level (KS4 and 5).
Hopefully the link is clear now. Fire fighting issues will always result in the same practice year after year, it almost seems pointless starting if all the intervention comes in one lump at the end. Instead, look at the talent you have, what is needed to develop it, what coaches are there to develop it and what is the shared vision you want the “players” to have? If you get this right then you can rest assured that when they make the break through to the top level, they will have all the skill s needed to succeed.
Brave decisions need to be made though. Many a football club needs to go down before they truly see the need to rebuild and develop internally.
So the solution? Not sure I am qualified enough to have that but I can see ways it could be achieved. Linking with Primary schools in a way that is supportive in both directions. The transition stage is critical, this concept of a scouting network to really understand the students as they move from primary to secondary. The development stage, KS3 where you look at the needs of the students in more detail and ensure that the key skills are developed and nurtured and a shared vision is achieved. This may be personal to the school setting, such as raising aspirations, identifying local needs for skills etc. Either way the curriculum gets created to support the development. PBL? Extra support early for literacy and numeracy?
These are just some of my personal thoughts, admittedly on the back of listening to Talk Sport on my journey home, but I would like to know others thoughts.