There is a saying of one of the world’s most respected young Belgian soccer coach, Bob Browaeys, that can take us to the heart of the matter: “Young football is not a sport. teammate. It is a personal sport. ”
It is a belief that has now reshaped the minds of clubs in the Premier League. Interestingly, the elements of this approach are also gradually “absorbed” into the top arena of senior people.
There have been a slew of individual coaches in recent clubs. Southampton created a position called “head of academy player development” last summer, with David Hughes removed from the U18 captain’s chair. of Aston Villa to take on that role.
Meanwhile, Rhys Carr has been assigned to a newly created position as “individual development coach” at Sheffield United, with the scope of work being expanded to individuals. on all teams, big and small.
“Taking on this role means I will not work with an entire team,” Carr told Sky Sports. “I will focus on working with the really best players; find out, teach them what needs extra attention and additional details needed for their development. ”
“I’ve been in this role for a first team before, and it is very obvious that although there will be 20 or more players in a team, only 11 of them will be. was named on the starting line-up on Saturday. If you’re in the group of young players and are trying to find your way into the starting lineup, where should your development come from? ”
“The schedule is full, the matches are coming in a row, so training may be formal, not (or very little) real progress for individuals, because you will Only 2 days left until the next match. You will not be able to do too much when practicing with the team. The mission of this job is to help those individuals get what they need. ”
In some respects, only the title that this job is given is new. Clubs have long been aware that, while there are hundreds of boys in their academy system, only a few will advance to the top. It’s not a secret at all, but it’s a fact that can sometimes be forgotten, pushed aside when youth teams are celebrating winnings or being trained together in large groups. .
It was a harsh truth that Louis Lancaster realized in Watford in 2013. At that time, Jadon Sancho was a jewel at the club’s academy, and – long before moving to Manchester City just before 15th birthday – obviously he is already very prominent compared to the rest.
Lancaster took on a role that was not yet known as the “personal trainer” to work privately with Sancho and a group of other young players selected from the club’s academy. For him, it was an idea stemming from Watford’s economic situation at the time. He saw this work from an economic perspective.