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Derek Quinn column: Youth key to success long-term

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with Nick Powell, a product of the Crewe youth system.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with Nick Powell, a product of the Crewe youth system.

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a question and answer session at the Globe Arena for Jim Bentley’s testimonial featuring Jim, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez and Dave Artell.

It was a memorable evening for a number of reasons but the one conversation that really struck me was the one about developing youth within a club.

Artell spoke passionately about his life at Crewe and how he saw youngsters like Nick Powell, Shaun Miller and Max Clayton be groomed for the first team from an early age and how the selling of Powell for £4m to Manchester United will feed that youth development again for years to come.

He spends time coaching Crewe’s Under 13s and he said one thing that grabbed my attention.

“Crewe are not bothered about the result.’’

It seems a radical statement but it is the golden thread to their development theory.

It is all about improving as an individual and as a team, learning how to play football the Crewe way.

He pointed to a recent junior game where he was convinced the opponents played over-age lads just to make sure they won a game of football.

He also said how Gradi could lambast the first team for winning when playing badly and praising them when playing well, even if they lost.

When I relate what he said to Morecambe I think it is an area I am glad the club has begun to focus on with the new academy plan.

They have also made some strides this year by joining the Elite Player Performance scheme and although there is a long, long way to go the first steps have been made and that needs to be maintained and developed further with an extra focus on creating a valued scouting network.

I believe in long-term planning and the Crewe talent production line that produced internationals like David Platt, Dean Ashton and Rob Jones took years to perfect.

Morecambe have had success in the past with David Perkins, Garry Thompson, Gary Hunter and Michael Stringfellow coming through but it is a while since a locally produced player has made a mark.

A club like Morecambe needs to produce its own talent.

In an age of increasingly tight finances they can’t go out and buy players and the aim must be to get at least one youngster in the first team squad every one or two years.

One Nick Powell is all it takes to keep the club financially stable for years to come.

 

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