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Post by Mcnulty on Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:21 am

The usual approach for success is to have a blend of youth and experience. Unless you have lots of money and can buy in established players and pay their wages then that is the only way to go. For bath city, I believe the main success stories this year have been the development of the likes of Keats, bowman and even dan ball into established first team players.
It may sound like a gamble but why not go a bit further and ditch the experiments with the ex pros ? To my mind low and brown are not deserving of their place in the side on their performances this year and I would imagine are two are the more expensive players. Connolly is a stalwart but is slowing down. Burnell I would have in my team every week but sadly he is often injured.
Ex pros are great if you can get ones who are still reasonably fit but in the last two years we haven't had many successes on that front and our loan links tend to bring in players who are also barely fit. Personally, I'd take a gamble for a season and throw some more academy players into the first team squad. Naive? Maybe but we aren't quite good enough to get promotion so maybe a transitional season where we find the right blend would be worthwhile. I don't see it as too much of a risk as we have enough quality elsewhere in the likes of Pratt, Watkins, stearn, Simpson etc to bring a few young players through, assuming they are there. Thoughts?

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Post by stillmanjunior on Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:03 am

I would see how the Academy/Development Squad players get on in this game at Cheddar next week. The gap from Academy football to the first team is huge, I'm not saying we don't appear to have players there that aren't good enough for the step up but I personally wouldn't be so hasty.

I believe the Academy are also playing Newport at Writhlington on Saturday 15th March, KO 10.30am. I'd recommend people to go along, then you can judge which players you believe are worthy of a step-up etc. I think a few have played in the Western League this season.
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Post by SteveS on Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:40 am

Mcnulty makes some valid points and certainly Low, Burnell, Brown and very possible Connolly would not feature in my plans for next season. Burnell must have been injured for at least 50% of the time he has been here and with a small squad you just cannot cope with that sort of situation.
The lads in the Academy are basically sixth formers and although a very important part of the structure it is a very big jump to Conf South football so unless someone is really outstanding this is going to be difficult. What we do need to do is look very closely at the U21 players which is where the Academy feeds into. As Keats and Bowman have proved there are players here who can make the step up.
We need to get a better balance and in order to be able to bring young players through we need to off load some players, already mentioned, and bring in some physically and mentally stronger players who can protect and guide the younger players. In this league there are some very physically strong teams and poor refs and we need some players who can match fire with fire and at the moment we do not have this. We shall have to see how Walshy has developed in the time he has been away, maybe he could be part of the answer.
Yes, bring more younger players through but we also need some hard cases to try and stop them being bullied and kicked all over the place.

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Post by comrade powell on Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:25 pm

I agree totally with McNulty about the way forward - with a few exceptions, the signing of ex full time players has not worked and doesn't tie in with the club's recent talk of investing in much younger players.

While there is still a very slight chance of a play off position, there is absolutely no chance of the under 21 players being given an opportunity. But should we be left with over a month of meaningless fixtures, they would be the games to experiment. You are more likely to see if a young player fits the bill in competitive games against the likes of Hayes and Gosport than in a training session at Cheddar or against a Swansea XI in July!
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Post by yuffie on Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:33 pm

i don't think the balance we've got this season is far off right

you've got the under-24 players like adelsbury, allen, stearn, bowman, ball, mellor and keats - two that have come through the U18/U21 set-up

a group of 24-30 players - watkins, pratt, connolly, simpson and gallinagh

then the over 30s - low, brown and burnell

so when you break it down like that the squad definitely leans toward younger players

i wouldn't be surprised to see low, brown and burnell released at the end of the season which could easily continue to lower the average age

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Post by Mcnulty on Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:36 pm

I must confess I am fairly ignorant of the lads we have coming through and their readiness for 1st team football. I suppose my point was that both the loan policy and the experienced players we have signed have been of limited success this year so maybe it is time to look at other options.
I also agree with the other posts in that I think we need a nasty big centre half like most teams we face in the division have, and a ball winning midfielder in the Burnell mould. If I was being greedy I'd look for a plan b up front as an option ie a big guy we can knock the ball into but I wouldn't change the front two we have in Pratt and Watkin.

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Post by stillmanjunior on Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:39 pm

Be interesting to see if Walsh is ever shoved forward in desperation at games, possibly with Watkins and Pratt.

For the record, one of our Academy players (Jordan Ricketts, son of Tony) scored the winner for Yate last night at Paulton.
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Post by Marc Monitor on Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:37 pm

Last year, we had Bradley Norris upfront for a couple of games but he came on 10 or 15 minutes before the end. Even for a lot of more experienced players, it is very hard to get into the game this late stage, especially for strikers, and he only seemed to play 2 or 3 games. He looked a bit of a rabbit in headlights but showed willing and a longer match-time would have helped him settle down.


Last edited by Marc Monitor on Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Marc Monitor on Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:37 pm

"encouraging new talent is the one strategy that leads to long-term prosperity"

Said by Felix Dennis. Not a football man but possibly one of the most successful self-made entrepreneurs in this country. However, the quote made me instantly think of City and this thread.

I am not sure whether anyone remembers that Swansea City friendly at the start of the season but City were outplayed by a team of U21 and Academy players. Of course, they have better facilities, coaches etc at the Jacks but, at the end of the day, their structure is deceptively simple. They bring on young local talent and get them to play in exactly the same way as the rest of the teams. Obviously a lot of their players are Spanish but a quarter of their squad are Welsh and most of their Academy players are. This philosophy, put into place by Martinez, has meant that the club has survived his (and subsequent managers') departure relatively unperturbed, kept the club on even keel financially and produced some of the most consistently attractive football over the last 5 years. This last point counts for the kids who played at Twerton Park, who patiently carried on playing their game even when 2-0 down, as well as the other teams.

We, on the other hand, are very slow to take on youth and hang onto or sign old semi-pros at the end of their career. Obviously, this worked well with Partridge and Rollo but I am not sure that returns are the same now. I am not sure what these guys are getting paid but the rumoured wages I have heard have been gobsmacking. I have nothing against footballers, with short careers, making as much as possible while they can but clubs like Bath just can't afford these wages, especially when the performances are not that effective.

I know that the Bath City academy is trying to improve and provide players and there seems to be some shoots of success there. I think that both Keats and Bowman came through the academy and Britton has said a lot of fine words about bringing youth through. However, I think that it is a good time to clear the older players out and bring through more younger players who, hopefully, are used to playing in the same manner as the first team and don't have to 'bed down' into this.

I am not impressed by talk of bringing in 4 or 5 new players. I would rather bring through players we are developing now and giving them more starts and match-time. We probably wouldn't get promoted next season or even the next with this sort of personnel (which, in itself, isn't a disaster) but we certainly wouldn't get relegated and, long-term, it serves the club better, both in consistency of playing and financially. I also think that supporters are much more positive about and supportive of younger players giving it a go and possibly failing than well-paid old lags (mentioning no names) not trying and failing.

The other point is that Bath and the surrounding area has so many young footballers. Bath, itself, has three well-run junior football clubs putting out, at least, two teams per age group. Frome has three more doing similar and there are dozens in-between. However, when they hit 16, these players don't play for these teams and the Academy with its additional opportunity of academic courses is a great stepping stone. Of course, Southampton, Bristol City and Rover are going to grab the most promising (before dumping most of them again). However, there are still promising players who they don't feel can perform at their level (possibly wrongly) but would be fine for City. Also, these three clubs still seem to dismiss players for being too small whereas, as we know, that suits Bath City's most effective style of play. Also, how many clubs would have missed out on Maradona and Messi because they were too small. It's a British obsession to sign big kids who can hoof the ball hard, run fast and head the ball far.
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Post by 2weirdtown on Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:06 pm

Was that the Felix Dennis of Oz infamy?
I agree we should be giving young players a chance. The supporters generally get behind them and many have said to me that's what they want to see. For some weeks it's not looked like we'll make the play offs so this end of season period would have been an ideal opportunity.
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Post by comrade powell on Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:13 pm

great post! hopefully that '4 or 5 signings this summer' quote was a throw away line that people at our club are too fond of making to the media. if it's true, i fear yet more of the ex pros who excite some of the fans pre-season but turn out to be a drain on the finances as well as the patience. it's all very well having an academy and under-21 squad in place, but they have to benefit the 1st team in the long run. many of us will remember our reserves set up - year after year there was zero promotion to the 1st team (probably because the standard they were playing at was way below the conference/southern league level we were playing at.) i certainly agree with you that the swansea model should be copied - all teams playing the same way and hopefully people like billy clarke are ensuring this is the case.

the dilemma comes when it's realised that a team full of under 23s needs guidance on the pitch - how experienced should those players be who offer it? watkins, simmo, gallinagh, connolly and walsh are the ideal upper age limit i'd suggest.
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Post by Marc Monitor on Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:29 pm

2weirdtown wrote:Was that the Felix Dennis of Oz infamy?.

It is indeed. I know him quite well as it goes.
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Post by Marc Monitor on Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:36 pm

Simpson is a perfect candidate (not least as he has been with us since he was a similar age). However, I would still be wanting younger voices of experience. There is no reason why a 25 year old (especially one who has been at the club a reasonable amount of time) can't be that voice, indeed captain.
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Post by comrade powell on Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:49 pm

danny ball! (and he's only 21)
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Post by Luton Roman on Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:50 pm

Fans are fickle and City fans are no different. If you want the hundreds to come back that were here for the Chelmsford game you need a winning team. Yes you can get all the off field stuff right, promote it to the max, spread the word, but at the end of the day fans want to see continuous improvement. This season's promise needs to be translated into a play off push next season with whatever players the management think necessary with the budget they are given or can flex. The signings of Watkins, Stearn and Pratt were excellent in terms of proven ability, the right age, and making a difference. Same again please in the key areas, simple !

Standing still for a couple of seasons will neither attract the good players nor the fans. The good academy / developpment players also want to play for an ambitious club lest you think they do it solely for the love of City and a pittance.

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Post by Marc Monitor on Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:15 pm

I am sorry, Luton, but that sort of short-termism has been costing the club, not only financially but, actually, in results. Like I say, I don't want to pass on rumoured wages but you can imagine that the older ex-pros are the highest paid. Looking at those players over 25, how many have genuinely contributed points this season - Brown, Burnell, Connolly, Gallingah, Low, Simmo, Watkins, Walsh?

Simmo and Watkins definitely (although Watkins isn't really consistent enough scorer considering his starts).  Low and Brown are definitely patchy, to be polite and I am sure the highest paid in the club.  The rest? I suppose we could debate about but I am not sure there aren't younger cheaper players that could be just as effective.

8 players over 25 out of a squad of 18 is just too much.
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Post by Beau Nash on Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:02 pm

A reminder after tonight's FA Youth Cup semi final game live on ITV4.

http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/Bath-City-Youth-16s-defeat-Henbury-win-Avon/story-20923514-detail/story.html#ixzz2yEhJL0g9

City’s final game of the season will take place at Mayday Trust Park on April 27 (2pm).  A good turn out to appreciate how well the lads have done.  Very Happy 

Finding information on the youth / academy / development set ups is not easy.  Next season can we integrate / link their websites, if any, into our own official one AND the Forum?
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Post by comrade powell on Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:46 pm

There is a link to the youth section on the official site. I don't think the other 2 set ups have websites. Perhaps their results etc could be included on our main site.
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Post by stillmanjunior on Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:39 pm

http://full-time.thefa.com/Index.do?league=6029290 has the results etc from the Academy this season
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Post by Beau Nash on Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:32 am

Thank you junior, that helps a little.

The Avon Youth League Division 2 U16 is not on that site but it could be registered as it would appear can any other.    

The Bath & District League 1 is on it.
 Shocked
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Post by Marc Monitor on Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:23 am

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Post by Beau Nash on Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:44 am

This forum is not the same without certain individuals.  pale 

I am hopeful Yuffers, assisted by Charlie's reports  I love you  from games, can ensure ALL Bath City teams' information will be easily available.

I expect Yuffers time is at a premium but is too modest to ask this:  Are there any technically gifted IT people who could help, I am sure it would be appreciated?
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Post by Marc Monitor on Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:53 am

Actually, that is perhaps a more contentious thread than I originally though and concentrates more on the youth than the Academy. Indeed, the point is made a couple of time on there that the two aren't linked. This does, however, raise the question of why not? Bath City Youth have one or two teams per age group which means that, over the club, there are hundreds of kids. Bearing in mind that, it is only in their teenage years that you can even get the vaguest idea of how good they are going to be, that is still 200-300 that can be tracked (this is leaving aside Bath Arsenal and Larkahall youth who have similar numbers plus other clubs in Somerset).

Now I know that the academy seems to recruit by annual open trials. This is a great way of widening the net but I hope that isn't the only method of recruitment. Effectively, the club has, in Bath City Youth coaches, many free scouts who are constantly seeing young players week in and week out. These coaches may make mistakes in recommending players to the club to keep an eye on but it is still likely to be far more effective than hoping they aren't picked up by Southampton, Bristol City and Rovers and that the club can catch them at open trial at 16. I know that people like Ray Li and Nick Prescott mentioned in that thread (is Shane still involved?) would take such roles very seriously as would other coaches. Personally, while, as a junior coach, I saw many great players, I realistically only saw one or two who looked like they would have a future at Bath City's level. However, that one or two could make a difference later on especially if they are picked up soon enough by City.

I am not sure whether the links have got more structured since that thread but, personally, I feel that a more formal Youth>Academy>Development Squad>Senior Squad process is going to produce more benefits than it is disadvantages.
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