If I Had A Nickel for Every Idiot Ex-Player/Pundit…

By on September 10, 2009

Stan "The Man" Collymore

…well, I’d be one rich <shut yo mouth>.

This international break has been so void of news that I have taken to airing my grievances with the British football media on more than one occasion. Perhaps it’s my Arsenallessness…

Why, oh why, does The Mirror and British media in general continue to give idiots like Stan Collymore print space? Collymore hasn’t had anything interesting to say since he denied beating his wife. But now, the one-man media empire that is Stan Collymore is having his say on the youth scandal and what he wants to know is “where are all the kids?”

Stan starts off his ramblings by saying, “I struggle to name one player who has come through at my old club Liverpool in recent years.” That’s because there are none, Stan. Although, if he wants to see what kids Liverpool have in the pipeline, all he has to do is take a look at their bench in recent matches and made necessary by an appalling lack of depth, especially for a big 4 club, in the Liverpool squad.

Then we get this gem:

And even Manchester United who are famous for developing their own players, seem to have a lack of young British talent. […] Manchester United have been the biggest draw for youngsters for years but even they appear to be struggling.

What league has he been watching? United have not brought through more than an occasional youngster since the mid-90s generation, which is still clinging on. Collymore’s natural anti-Arsenal bias, discussed on Young Guns, keeps him from even mentioning Arsenal, who have clearly been the biggest draw for youngsters in recent years, both in terms of youngsters wanting to come to the club and also fans wanting to see them play. Arsenal practically sold out  the Emirates last season for two early round Carling Cup matches with attendances of 56,632 and 59,665. What other team can boast anything even approaching that?

Back to Stan:

The talent is out there but there is this trend of bringing in kids from South America or Europe when they are just 16 or 17.

First of all, “the talent is out there” is not an assumption that can be easily made. English clubs are limited geographically in the domestic youngsters they can sign. These ridiculous restrictions allow Arsenal to sign Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona but not a bright young English kid from the Midlands. The location restrictions also keep promising youngsters from developing at clubs with better youth systems because they don’t happen to live within the minimum distance from the ground of the club.

Don't worry, this man is on the case.

This is just one symptom of the larger problems regarding youth development caused by the FA. Years and years of talking have gone by and still there is no continental-style national youth training academy. Sir Trevor Brooking detailed most of the problems a few years a back and there’s no reason for me to rehash them but also consider that kids in England also do not play football like they used due to so many other available diversions, i.e. video games, internet, etc…. As well, investment has just not been there by the FA. Just yesterday, Brooking also criticized a “vacuum of leadership” at the youth level as a principle cause in England’s failure to develop world-class players.

It is this failure that has brought about the “trend” of signing youngsters from abroad, not the other way around as Collymore would like to believe. Also, just like their senior counterparts, foreign youngsters cost less than English youngsters. It’s just another part of the domino effect of inflated values being put on English players.

It dismays me and I think there should not be one foreign player born outside of Great Britain in any academy.

That’s all well and good, Stan, but it makes no sense. English kids with real potential would not improve by playing against mediocre English kids. The problem at the club level, at least, is not about numbers. The solution does not lie in bringing in more English kids. That is just like trying to buy more tickets in the blind hope of maybe winning the lottery. The problems with English youth development are systemic and will never be solved by anything other than an overhaul of the way English kids are trained from the ages of 8-14. Arsene Wenger has often spoken of how critical this period is in a young player’s development and that it can never be gotten back by a kid once he is 16 or 17.

Also, let’s be honest… a young kid from an economically disadvantaged area of South America or Africa or even Eastern Europe has much more incentive to practice as a youngster and also has far less distractions. These kids are hungrier to be great footballers than most suburban English kids with iPods and X-boxes.

How many times must we suffer the idiotic ramblings of former players who seem shockingly clueless considering that they actually played the game. Ian Wright comes to mind, but, even though I may disagree with almost everything he says concerning Arsenal, at least his “columns” are cogent opinions seemingly formed after more than a second’s thought.

Collymore, on the other hand, turns out 5 or 6 sentences, which looks like more only because they are each treated as a paragraph and spaced accordingly. I am just so tired of these idiot ex-player/pundits talking out of their ass and pontificating in either ghost-written columns or self-penned columns which would be lucky to earn a third-grader a grade of C-.

Stan closes his “column” by saying, “What is happening now should not be allowed anymore.” Well, first Stan, you really should try to figure exactly WHAT IS happening before you go off spouting some half-crocked nonsense. I mean, they can’t possibly pay him for “writing” that crap, can they?           [digg=http://digg.com/soccer/If_I_Had_A_Nickel_for_Every_Idiot_Ex_Player_Pundit]

Here is Dennis Bergkamp replicating his classic chip in a match with Ajax seniors: