Youth gets its chance as austerity bites
Published: 07.10.12 / Written by: David Gold
Youngsters are on the rise again. In the Premier League this season a number of teams are turning to younger players to fill gaps in their squads, in many cases prompted to do so by downsizing and attempts to comply with UEFA’s financial fair play schemes.
Teams like Tottenham and Liverpool did not fill their squads as they would have hoped in the transfer market and now, particularly in Europe, are looking for inspiration in their youth ranks.
It is an interesting time to say the least for those seeking to make the grade. At Fulham one of the less heralded of these is Alex Kacaclinic, who has been given his chance since the start of the season and impressed for Martin Jol. He arrived from Liverpool when they bought Paul Konchesky and how the Anfield hierarchy must regret that decision. But Liverpool have a clutch of talented youngsters too, emphasised in their Europa League win on Thursday night against Young Boys, ironically. Andre Wisdom scored on his debut, the highly talented Suso had a run out and Jonjo Shelvey underlined his status as a rising star at Anfield.
Across the league the trend is marked. Manchester United have noticeably shifted towards buying younger players recently, Robin van Persie aside. Goals from Alex Buttner and Nick Powell last weekend were symptomatic and results of this policy, and the emergence of Tom Cleverley another consequence of United’s recent approach. Chelsea too have been forced to look to the younger generation, although in their case through spending ridiculous sums to bring them to Stamford Bridge. Oscar and Eden Hazard are the most obvious examples, but how long until Josh McEachran, Oreol Romeu and Lucas Piazon make the breakthrough?
At Arsenal they have long championed youth and Carl Jenkinson has been enjoying a run in the team in Bacary Sagna’s absence. They are hoping to have Jack Wilshere, their highly talented youngster back from injury shortly, whilst Serge Gbnary is an intriguing young option coming through on the right wing. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain is another notable young player making his mark at the Emirates, although unlike their rivals Arsenal have spent a fair amount on experience this summer, Lukas Podolsi and Santi Cazorla the best examples of that. It is interesting to see Arsenal go the opposite way to some of their main rivals in this sense.
And what of Manchester City? They talk a good game on youth, but their spending would indicate that they are no closer to unearthing new talent. But they do have players capable and who may come through. John Guidetti was brilliant for Feyenoord last year and his return from loan may have been a factor in the decision not to make a decisive move for van Persie.
Tottenham failed to bring in a couple of their high profile targets this summer too, and Souleymane Coulibaly could get a chance to start to fulfil his potential sooner rather than later with a lack of options up front for Andre Villas Boas. The Portuguese may also bring through Steven Caulker and Andros Townsend, two highly talented youngsters.
Further down the league there are others making their mark. Eric Lichaj and Ciaran Clark are just two at Aston Villa showing their burgeoning potential already as they blood a host of youngsters. Southampton could well be about to bring through the next Gareth Bale. Luke Shaw is also a left back, pacey, skilful, a good dribbler and with excellent technique, though it remains to be seen if he will make the move forward to left wing like Bale.
It all amounts to an interesting time to be a young player in the Premier League. With so many teams focusing more on balancing their books, more and more youngsters are getting a chance to play regular first team football. This year could end up being the season of the youngster.