Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Wednesday January 18 2006
A Window of Opportunity?
With all the frenzied activity surrounding the transfer window, I’m sure like me, most City fan are eagerly waiting for news of the latest big signing or rumour.
Clearly City could do with strengthening the squad in certain areas and providing additional cover for when injuries, suspensions and loss of form take their toll.
If the latest reports are to believed, we’re close to a £5m signing of Heerenveen's Greek 20 year old striker Georgios Samaras – “Who?” I hear you say.
I’ll admit I’ve never heard of him, but by all accounts he’s a good prospect. Certainly he’s young, big strong; probably just the sort of big target man City have been crying out for a long time since the untimely departure of Niall Quinn.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m always pleased when City sign good young players, but our recent record with big money signings hasn’t been that good – no names mentioned, but you and they know who they are.
All this speculation got me thinking about our young lads, particularly those on the brink of breaking into the first team and how depressing all this transfer window activity may be.
We’ve currently got one of the best crop of youngsters for many a year. Let’s not forget it was these young academy lads who helped save us from an ignominious drop into the Championship in the later, darker years of KK’s reign.
Just look at Barton and Ireland in midfield this season. Their performances have on the whole been outstanding and testament to the first-class academy and development schemes City has built up.
Bradley Wright-Phillips has been teetering on the edge of the first team for over season now, getting few chances as a sub, normally around the 85th minute; not really a fair crack of the whip. He scored a beauty in his last appearance against Birmingham, but seems again to have fallen out of favour and has not been seen since.
Ishmael Miller has looked a good prospect all season. He’s fast, big, and strong with bags of natural skill and when he’s unleashed will scare the life out of defenders, but he’s not had a chance to show if he can perform at the top level.
I’ve nothing against this lad, Samaras but I’m just posing the question about whether he’s £5m+ better than BWP or Miller and I guess none of us really know.
It just puzzles me why there seems to be this presumption that foreign players are just naturally better than home grown talent and I don’t just mean at City, it pervades throughout the Premiership.
Is all this de-motivating our talented youngsters when they see largely unknown and untested foreign players being brought in to the club further up the pecking order?
Our best academy and reserve team players need to see an opportunity for progression into the first team otherwise what have they got to aim at?
In recent years City have probably been one of the best examples of giving young local talent first team opportunities, although in truth most of the time it was out of necessity as there was no alternative, but it was a huge success.
Before we rush into the transfer market, we need to be sure that we don’t already have an existing option, which means having the confidence to give more youngsters their chance when there are opportunities to do so; they’ve not let us down so far.
Where there is an obvious gap, of course we need to bring players in. I’m just no sure that the gaps in our striker options are that big that we need to gamble with other clubs’ youngsters.
We have other more problematic areas such the successor to David James to sort out, but that’s a different discussion for another time.
Date:Wednesday January 18 2006
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