Youth Development on Football Manager is one of the most hotly discussed topics every year; How should it be approached? Should you invest in bringing the best and brightest talents from all around the world into your club and nurturing them, or do you focus on local, home-grown talent? Do you invest in your facilities to bring through better kids in the intake, or poach the talents that can be poached, and focus on your training facilities?
Regardless of how you approach youth development, it’s guaranteed that at some point, there’s going to be a player who steals your heart, fires you to glory, and writes his name in the record books. This story is a tale of how you get to that one player – how do you grow a club and develop the facilities enough to find your own hero?
Now, everyone is familiar with the usual approach of scouring the world for talented newgens, bringing them to the club and over-stocking your youth and reserve teams with 40,000 South Americans that’ll never make it at the club, and selling them off, sometimes for profit. I’m going to do things slightly differently. I want to focus on developing not only home-grown talent, but local talent – players who are from the local area and who are willing to lay it all on the line for the club.
I had considered doing this as a non-league to legend type deal, however there are a few clubs floating around in relatively ‘congested’ areas which would present a good challenge in signing ‘local’ youth due to not being the biggest fish in the pond, and I feel like that kind of club will be a greater test of my abilities in terms of growing and developing the club as a whole.
As such, we’re off to..Cheshire?
Crewe appealed to me as we’re within 50 miles of both Manchester and Liverpool, so we’re going to be way down the pecking order when it comes to grabbing youth players, however the club has some reasonable facilities, and what I perceive as a massive potential for growth. In order to maximise the pool of players available, I’ve loaded every player in England, as well as the wider UK:
I’ve also loaded a few local and European leagues, as we may still get youngsters of other nationalities and origins through the youth intake. The rules for signing players in this save are very simple: If he’s not come through our youth intake, and he’s not an existing squad member, he must have been born within 50 Miles of the stadium. As time goes on and we develop our facilities, I’ll probably also look for some standout attributes etc, but for our current level, I think one restriction is more than enough to be going on with.
In terms of my aims for the save, it’s pretty straightforward – grow and develop the club as much as possible on local talent, while remaining competitive on the pitch. The ultimate goal is obviously Premier League and European glory, however that will very much be a long-haul goal. Thinking ahead, I can already see a few issues in growing the club relying on local talent alone, so I will probably look to diversify our youth intakes through feeder clubs, and set up a couple of senior affiliates to allow us to bring in some loanees from the local area who may otherwise be out of our league.
All in All, this promises to be an exciting ride, and I hope you’ll stick with me throughout it, as I aim to take Crewe into the Premier League, and, eventually, to top-flight glory.