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Are Man City Holding Back Homegrown Players?

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With Manchester City looking to sign players at every opportunity, this January transfer window was a key example of what can be expected in the future.

During the window, four players were signed; a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker. Adding a player in each of those positions is going to force at least four British youth players to be moved down the line and will obviously receive less first team football, possibly hindering their development.

Starting with the most recent signing of Shay Given. Mark Hughes has argued that City has needed an experienced goalkeeper for some time, but his arrival will surely limit the opportunities of Joe Hart and in turn Kasper Schmeichel. Joe Hart established himself under Sven-Göran Eriksson after Andreas Isaksson was injured.

However, even after Isaksson returned from injury, Hart was still the first choice goalkeeper. Although Hart was not rock solid last season, he definately showed signs of potential and in the summer made his England debut in a friendly with Trinidad and Tobago.

He has the potential to be a future England number one, but as with many potential England goalkeepers, if they find themselves behind more experienced keepers then it becomes more difficult to become first choice.

Keepers like Ben Foster and Chris Kirkland have found England opportunities hard to come by when playing backup keeper at Man United or Liverpool.

Hughes also signed Nigel de Jong to steady up the midfield. Surely this will affect the chances of Michael Johnson playing first team football. At only 20 years old, Johnson is thought to have huge potential and was a regular player under Eriksson last season. He has suffered a few injuries but has thought to have been fit recently.

With his last start for City being in November and rumours of an £8million bid rejected on transfer deadline day, is the player being held back? If you look at players like Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard, they flourished with first team football. Would they have been the players they are today without having gained so much experience at an early age?

The signing of Craig Bellamy will also have a big affect on British talent. Welsh striker Chad Evans and English striker Daniel Sturridge have both show potential to be big players in the future. Evans was linked with a possible loan move to Celtic this January, while rumours of a bid for Sturridge from Aston Villa were also reported.

With the likes of Bellamy, Robinho, Benjani and Jo (around £70m worth of strikers), how are young players like these supposed to pick up experience? The sad thing is, Man City were attempting to sign Roque Santa Cruz as well.

With the arrival of Wayne Bridge, rumours of a bid for Kolo Toure and reports of a sensational raid for John Terry, how can players like Nedum Onuocha and Mical Richards continue to develop? If Kaka had signed for City, then would Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips still be holding on to their spots in the starting lineup?

The foreseeable problem for me is that there could have been more signings this January, and there is no doubt that there will be signings in the summer.

an City has young talents available, more young talents than many top-flight teams. If they continue to bring in established players then they will face crushing their own youth system.

The purpose of the youth system is to build and find players. Why bother building players into becoming potential stars if you are just going to buy the already existing stars?

If you look at teams like Chelsea and Liverpool, how many potential British national team standard players have come through their ranks in recent years? City may claim that their signing of players does not affect the youth system, but at the end of the day there are only 11 starting positions on the pitch. If youth players do not get games then they will not develop.

Many thanks go to Liam Yardley, who kindly allowed Vital Manchester City to publish the above article. To view his new site, click here.

The journalist

Writer: Tudor Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday February 5 2009

Time: 2:42PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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To be honest signing players like De Jong will ofcourse put other players down the pecking order. He is however, a defensive midfielder - Johnson is a centre midfield (where Zabaleta has been playing of late. If all we can boast is an injury prone Johnson and the below par Gelson Fernandes as midfield options then I am not going to complain about signing De Jong. In regards to Kaka... He is one of the best players in world football and is only surpassed by Messi and Ronaldo. Would you say no if you had an opportunity to sign him? I doubt it. The problem with the City team since the beginning of the season is the lack of EXPERIENCE in the squad and the wrong mentality. We have all been crying out to add these qualities to our young team so I find it a tough call to complain as the squad was far too weak to compete. I think Hughes will give the youth a chance but he needed to steady the ship first.
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05/02/2009 15:15:00

I'd really love to have Michael Johnson at United. He's just about the only player I can stand at Citeh. Shame what's happening to him at the moment! Fantastic ability and ball sense for someone of his age!
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05/02/2009 15:32:00

I haven't seen any sign of MH giving any of our youngsters a chance this season. When you see the likes of Vassell, Ball, Hamman, Fernandes etc. on the bench and the likes of Mee, Weiss, D.Ball etc. not getting a look in it does make you wonder if MH has any faith in our youngsters or is it more of a case that they are not "his signings" !!!
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05/02/2009 15:39:00

Alphieblues, Hughes has given the likes of Vassell, Ball, Hamman, Fernandes chances to prove themselves and they have not done. When was the last time he played any of them? Ages ago. With the experience he has added I can see a few more youth team players getting chances to impress in the last minutes of games and hopefully a few can establish themselves above the the likes of Vassell, Ball, Hamman and Fernandes in the first team squad.
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05/02/2009 15:45:00

Firstly they need to stand out in the reserves, Is there anyone who has seen these youngsters play in the reserves and if so are tthey outstanding?
Buzz Lightyear
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05/02/2009 16:34:00

If we continue to perform poorly in the league and especially cups, then opportunities to blood academy players will remain few and far between. It is unfortunate that the likes of Logan, Mee and Weiss are not on the bench more often, but if we don't stay in the premier league I'm certain all of the big money players will leave and the kids will have much more opportunity in the championship. Sincew we have underperformed in both domestic cups and the league, the clear answer is to allow academy players to go elsewhere on loan to gain the experience they need to make the breakthrough.
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05/02/2009 17:02:00

That's exactly my point eighthsin... thay haven't proved themselves and still the youngsters are nowhere to be seen.
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05/02/2009 17:04:00

Weiss shold br in the first team squad atleast. Gelson, ball, hamman and vassel were all given chances. I think we have better younger lads who can ake there place.
enzo city
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05/02/2009 18:03:00

Blooding youngsters is the luxury of a top six position, when you are struggling to get your first team sorted and with enough depth to go through a full season you cannot afford to blood young players. This is what sending them out is all about.
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05/02/2009 18:26:00

When Mark Hughes has a settled, winning first eleven and City are on a whole series of good runs, then that is the time to bring in the odd young player. The absolute worse thing you can do is throw kids into a struggling team. Patience fellow blues, we will get there and WITH our young stars on board.
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05/02/2009 18:34:00

If the first team were solid and consistent you could blood the youngsters at the moment theyr`e not but it will happen sooner rather than later.The futures bright and its blue CTID!!!
Report Abuse
05/02/2009 18:40:00

This article sums up everything that concerns me about City. As for the argument about Vass, Ball etc being tried and found wanting, who was on the bench last Saturday? Vassell, Fernandes and Jo who was 24 hours away from going on loan. If Hamann was fit he'd have been on the bench, Ball too probably. I find it ironic the argument that by performing badly the first team holds back the progress of the youngsters, surely if the first 11 is not up to much then that is the time for alternatives, one of which is to look at what are largely a successful reserve and youth team set ups. Sturridge will leave, prosper elsewhere and we'll be trying to resign him for millions. I suspect that City will value the price of a player over his worth. Bit deep that last bit. Sorry.
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05/02/2009 22:36:00


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