More Questions, Less Unswers

The recently concluded FIFA U20 World Cup has thought as a lot of things and gave us a taste of what to expect in the next generation footballers. But if there is one thing that I’m left with from this whole tournament is The question: how did Chelsea allow themselves to lose Dominic Solanke to Liverpool?

This question has borne a lot of questions about development.

Quick context.

The constant criticism of Chelsea and it’s youth team is that they produce the best teams but not necessarily the best individual players. I am in no way questioning that as their youth teams’ records shows that they have really competitive teams. I’m also in agreement with the fact that they fail to feed individual players from that competitive youth structures to the first team, which is the sole role of the a youth team.

However, this whole thing leaves a lot of unaswered questions in my mind.

How do you find a balance between producing the best individual players and the best functional teams at youth level? Do you place more emphasis on one over the other? Is it possible to promote the individual characteristics of youngsters without making them think and look like they are better, while still maintaining harmony between the kids? Is it advisable to promote individualism?

With the game moving to an era that favours one forward supported by other attackers who are expected to also be the first line of defence, is that an example of the game requiring youth teams to place more emphasis on team ethics? If yes, how does that help because at the end of the day it’s an individual player who will be promoted based on how good he/she is, not the whole team who function as a unit?

Only when I manage to find answers to some of these questions will I be able to understand development football, and football in general, better. It’s questions like these that makes one appreciate the complexity of soccer


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