Daniele De Rossi would like to take a baseball bat to the teeth of young players who use Instagram in the changing room…
Breaking News: Old man doesn’t understand young people.
Meanwhile in Liverpool, Steven Gerrard is planning on stamping out lollipops, Cruyff turns and any form of expression in the Liverpool academy.
More Breaking News: Retired English footballer is suspicious of creativity.
Both De-Rossi and Gerrard’s comments allude to a wider trend in football and society in general. Stick on your rose tinted glasses and blame youth culture for all of the world’s shortcomings.
This is known as declinism; the belief that things are getting worse and to view the past favourably and future negatively.
While it is ever so slightly easier to spot the ridiculousness of De-Rossi’s comments, Gerrard’s are a real cause for concern. Not only does it suggest that his approach to coaching will be nothing short of pre-historic, it also fuels myth that academy player’s lack of toughness is the reason they don’t make it.
Paid too much. Too comfy. Too concerned with social media.
Gerrard has been laying out his plans, which involve injecting physicality and backbone whilst cracking down on flair and lollipops.
“Too many try to model themselves on players like [Cristiano] Ronaldo”.
Obviously not everyone can be Ronaldo, but Ronaldo only became Ronaldo by being given the freedom to express himself up until his early twenties.
Ronaldo wasn’t told to stop doing step-overs. And even if he was, he didn’t listen. Thank God.
Wanting to be skilful isn’t the sign of a bad attitude or lack of toughness.
But Gerrard’s decidedly British mentality toward skill is probably the reason the Glenn Hoddle’s of this world only come along once every 25 years in this country.
It’s far easier to inject discipline and ruthlessness, once you have the confidence in your ability, rather trying to inject skill and flair having had it completely drilled out of you during your childhood.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Case in point Lee Cattermole (Gerrard’s model academy player by the sounds of it).
Now to be fair to Gerrard, he’s also spoken with passion about giving players the right mentality to make it to the very top.
But once again, it’s probably worth asking whether or not academy players are totally to blame if they don’t make it to the first team.
The perfect defence of academy players would be Chelsea, who won the FA Youth cup for the fourth consecutive year this week. Despite this fantastic achievement, John Terry remains the most recent story of success from the Chelsea academy.
I’m sure this has much more to do with Chelsea’s demand for short-term success year in year out.
What manager is going to place faith in an unknown entity, who will without doubt produce inconsistent performances, when a string of losses will cost them their job?
The truth is that most Premier League clubs are not set up in a way that facilitates academy players transitioning to the first team.
You may well be thinking that these young players lack the drive with all their riches. And while this might be a valid point, I would once again argue that the short term demands on Premier League clubs has much more of an impact on a players opportunities.
Furthermore, why shouldn’t these young players be paid handsomely to be part of these incredibly rich clubs/companies/brands?
With such slim chance of making it to the top, academy players are sacrificing time in exchange for a slim chance of the riches available to a handful at the top of the game.
Why shouldn’t they be paid a salary that could give them a very good start in life if they don’t make it? Particularly when evidence suggests they probably won’t.
You could argue, that players should be better educated on how to invest, but to pay them next to nothing when they could be investing their time studying, preparing for university or setting out on an apprenticeship would surely be absurd.
Especially when the clubs can afford it.
Maybe Gerrard’s focus on mentally preparing his players for the first team will help them avoid the trappings of getting to cosy in the academy set-up.
But you only need to head to the interweb for yet more concerning evidence of the Gerrard era.
As Liverpool’s YouTube channel has helped publicise, Gerrard’s been joining in training sessions. Not sure who this benefits?
It’s difficult to coach if you’re playing, and demoralising for the players who obviously won’t be as good as the Liverpool legend.
Gerrard has already spoken about learning from the mistakes he will inevitably make.
Hopefully he learns from his first big one. Let the players express themselves Stevie.
Not everyone can be a box-to-box four lunged skillfull hard-man-powerhouse like you!