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WBAFans_Latest Posted on 21/02/2020 08:48
Albion's Youth Policy - Striking a Balance
Edited On: 21/02/2020 08:49
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From 'The Athletic'....

'West Bromwich Albion rate Rayhaan Tulloch pretty highly and believe their youth-team winger has a chance to forge a successful career in football. Yet at the end of the season, the club look set to stand by their judgement of Tulloch’s potential and part company with the teenager.

It is a decision that all at The Hawthorns accept might, in five years’ time, come back to bite them. Yet it is one they feel they have to make, such is the inexact science that is youth development.

Albion supporters are no strangers to seeing talented youngsters leave their club. From Jerome Sinclair and Yan Dhanda, to Louie Barry and Morgan Rogers via Izzy Brown, Chris Wood and Romaine Sawyers — talents nurtured in the Albion academy have moved on for a variety of reasons since it was founded by Aidy Boothroyd in 2003.

Yet when players move on because no new contract could be agreed, Albion brace themselves for criticism from their fanbase, especially when the teenager concerned has been close to the first team.

The reality, though, is that every decision clubs make on a player’s future is a calculated gamble. Take Kyle Edwards, another winger for whom head coach Slaven Bilic has high hopes. Albion believe the Dudley-born wideman has the talent to be a success for the club but, like with any player with his limited experience, there are no guarantees.

The club are hopeful of agreeing a contract to keep Edwards at The Hawthorns beyond the summer of 2021 when his current deal — due to its one-year option — effectively ends.

Edwards’ wages are likely to increase to between £10,000 and £15,000 per week if and when a new deal is signed, meaning a three-year deal — the minimum term players tend to sign at The Hawthorns — would cost Albion the thick end of £2 million.

It remains a substantial sum, even in football’s spiralling market, but it is one that Albion are prepared to pay as an investment in Edwards’ future, either as an important first-team player or as a youngster with potential resale value, but there is no certainty of a financial return.

In Tulloch’s case, they are ready to take a risk of a different kind. Having signed for Albion from Phoenix United, the same club that produced both Nathan Ferguson and Saido Berahino, Tulloch has made solid progress through the academy.

A direct, pacy winger, he has played a total of 95 minutes for Albion’s first team, spread across four FA Cup ties over this season and last.

His senior debut arrived in January 2019 when he was brought off the bench as West Brom held Premier League Brighton to a goalless draw in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Having been introduced late on at the Amex Stadium, he played for more than an hour in the replay, with Glenn Murray’s extra-time double seeing Brighton progress at the expense of Darren Moore side.

This year, he caught the eye with a useful cameo in the 1-0 win against West Ham in the fourth round of the cup in January, having also had a fleeting cameo against Charlton earlier in the competition, but remains some way from forcing his way into Slaven Bilic’s Championship plans.

The player’s camp have spoken of figures higher than those likely to be agreed with Edwards. Albion have offered Tulloch what they believe is the best deal they can justify, given his lack of first-team experience.

He has so far turned it down. The club know he could go elsewhere — Rangers have been linked strongly — and become a success but Albion’s stance is clear: they cannot give every talented player everything he wants just to avoid the risk of future embarrassment.

Put simply, fear of missing out is not sufficient reason to push the boat other further than logic dictates. They must draw lines in the sand, wish players well and accept that, every now and then, they will leave themselves open to criticism. They do not get everything right.

When Wood left for Leicester for a fee of around £1 million in 2013, there was little belief at The Hawthorns that the New Zealander would make it in the Premier League, where Albion were then plying their trade.

Seven years on, the centre-forward is established in the top flight, having moved to Burnley for £15 million. Potentially, Albion have missed out financially.

By also failing to tie down Ferguson to a contract before he was fast-tracked into the first team by Slaven Bilic, Albion might have missed out on a sizeable transfer fee for the defender, who seems certain to leave in the summer having almost joined Crystal Palace in January.

Yet Albion have taken the plunge with others. Dara O’Shea has been rewarded for his rapid progress with a new, lucrative contract. Highly-rated goalkeeper Josh Griffiths was given a new four-year deal at the start of this season while talented striker Jamie Soule signed a three-year contract and has maintained his impressive progress this season.

In their cases, Albion believed the figures added up to an acceptable risk. With Edwards, the outcome is likely to be the same but with Tulloch, the club have concluded that the stake is just too high.

It is a tough decision that could leave them with egg on their faces. But it is a judgement that has to be made'.
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Salop_Lad Posted on 21/02/2020 12:16
Albion's Youth Policy - Striking a Balance

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Reads a bit like an advance public relations statement to reduce the outcry that would happen when Tulloch, Ferguson and maybe others leave.

Not every academy graduate will be successful and I'm sure for every one listed in the article that has been successful there are at least two who sank without trace.

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BlueandWhiteStripe Posted on 21/02/2020 12:22
Albion's Youth Policy - Striking a Balance
Edited On: 21/02/2020 12:23
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'Reads a bit like an advance public relations statement to reduce the outcry that would happen when Tulloch, Ferguson and maybe others leave'.

I agree with you there Salop.

Sadly but realistically however, the article shows that it's never as simple as just 'throw enough money at them and they will stay'.

For one thing Albion can't afford to offer all its promising youngsters the kind of contracts and wages that would anywere near compare to what a club like Manchester City can offer - and secondly Albion could never offer enough first team opportunities to keep them all happy (because the club is constantly having to predominantly play its more experienced players to get promotion or stay up).

Ironically, unless the youngster in question is one of the very best, they are unlikely to get a starting place in a club like Man City - they go out on loan to lower level clubs. IMO they would be better staying at clubs like Albion and move on to the biggest clubs if they do well enough here.

Then again, we know one of the reasons that promising youngsters turn our new contract offers down - youngsters (like Nathan Ferguson) are pursuaded to by greedy agents who make their real money by getting a lucrative £ cut when players MOVE to a new club.
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