In this clip (from Nike’s Most Wanted show, aired last weekend), Sir Alex Ferguson shares his thoughts on youth development in general and his view on signing players later on in their careers (Manucho being a good example).
In essence SAF is right – some players are late bloomers (think Didier Drogba, or consider the careers of defenders and goalkeepers) – but watching the clip I got the distinct impression that the gaffer did NOT want to be there at all. His body language spoke volumes, even if he gave nothing away in his words.
Anyway, there’s a lot of debate on whether the grassroots setup in England is good enough to attract and develop footballing talent. That’s just half the story in my view – as Roy Keane and other managers before him have said, restricting clubs to a 60m radius of talent some areas are geographically crippled (not enough people in the area, too many clubs in the area, etc) and as a result have fewer options in terms of attracting young talent.
A lot could be improved by simply making football fun again – more about the game and the community than about careers and money. The best players – those that rise and stay at the top of the game for years and years – are those that have always retained their love for the game above everything else.