Too Much, Too Soon?

Written by Sam Bayda

In the modern game of football, the pressure is on from a young age to prove yourself.  But can wanting to make your way to the big stage too soon, actually hinder your chances of becoming world class?

There are many great development set ups in English football  and the fact that there are 4 leagues helps push tomorrow’s players sooner and gives them a better chance to play. But what about the future stars that didn’t make it? What went wrong?

I feel staying at a League 1/2 side would be more beneficial for  18-22  year old’s unless they already show that flair and professionalism from a young age. There are many occasions when a player has shown so much promise in the lower leagues, had a good season, been snapped up by the Premier League teams and you don’t hear of them again.

Take for instance Nick Powell, 22, of Manchester United.

Nick came through the youth system of Crewe and he spent the early stages of his senior career there and making his debut at just 16 years old. He had an absolutely unbelievable season in 2011/2012 helping Crewe to promotion and scoring at Wembley with a magnificent goal. I am a Southend United fan and had to pleasure of watching him play 4 times that season, during the regular season and then in the Play Off semi finals. I can say he was a class above the other players on the field.

He then moved to Manchester United that summer which is a huge step for any player. He failed to get a spot in the first team which is understandable and spent the following 3 seasons on loan at Wigan, Leicester and Hull. Unfortunately for Nick he was just released the summer of 2016.

Now why was this? A player who made his debut at 16, set League 2 alight, represented the England National team at all ages from Under16- Under21.

The reason being, he wanted too much too soon. Now football is a short career and ultimately the quicker you get to the top the more money you will make but that is not for the best. It’s not just the player that makes decisions either, the players agent is meant to help decide what is best too. But are the agents doing what’s best for the player, or themselves. In this instance, you have to say that Nick would of been better off spending even another season with Crewe, they just got promoted to a higher league, they will be playing better and more challenging teams.

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credit Geoffrey Chisnall

Now don’t get me wrong there are many players who I could name who have done this, but this one stands out for me. He recently made the headlines not for his football, but for his Xbox performance.

Back in 2007 The Daily Mail predicted their England team of the future. Guess how many of them actually played for England? One and that is Theo Walcott, he is the only player to play regular Premier League football too. All of the players in that ‘Team of the Future’ belong to Premier League teams.

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credit Ronnie Macdonald

Now let’s look at the big picture, England is lucky because it has so many tiers of football giving players the chance to play at the level they need to develop. But the money attracts the players to the big clubs too soon and they get used to sitting on the sidelines. The agents should see this and make the player aware that they won’t be getting regular football and that earning that little bit less for the short term will be more beneficial in the long term.

I’d love to hear everyone’s views on this so feel free to leave a comment and discuss!

featured image by  Ronnie Macdonald