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FIFA U-17 World Cup: England coach hopes Premiership clubs buy into youth success

Steve Cooper, England’s FIFA U-17 World Cup team coach, says recognition of age-group teams performances higher now and hopefully it will translate into more first team opportunities.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 12, 2017 18:33 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,England national under-17 football team
England U-17 football player Jadon Sancho show his ball skills in front of kids during their Newtown School visit in Kolkata. Sancho’s scored a goal in England’s 3-2 win over Mexico in their FIFA U-17 World Cup encounter on Wednesday. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

The summer of 2017 and a promising start to the FIFA U-17 World Cup can change the way of Premiership clubs buying their way to success. At least Steve Cooper, the England U-17 team coach, hopes so.

“We think we have got good plans with the England teams. We have had a successful summer. It has raised the profile of English talent. Everybody is sitting up and taking notice,” he said after Wednesday’s 3-2 victory against Mexico here in Group F.

That win took England to the Round of 16 and Cooper called qualifying with a game to spare a ‘luxury’. In two Group F games, England have impressed with players such as Jadon Sancho, Philip Foden, Callum Hudson-Odoi, George McEachran, Rhian Brewster, Joel Latibeaudiere and Angel Gomes.

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Seeking instant success

But given that Premiership clubs buoyed by television revenue the increasing worldwide popularity of the league fetches -- from 191m pounds in 1997, according to BBC, it is now worth 5.14 billion pounds and is expected to go up when the auction happens next year -- prefer the instant gratification of buying rather than promoting their own, these teens could face a difficult future.

According to a report in The Guardian, Aston Villa, now in the division below the Premiership, earned 65m pounds from television and broadcasting in 2015-16, Crystal Palace got 78m, Arsenal 141m, Chelsea 143m, Liverpool 124m, Manchester City 100m and Manchester United 140m. This isn’t the clubs’ only revenue stream; there is money to be made from merchandising, gate sales and playing in Europe.

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Big names matter

So, clubs would rather invest in Paul Pogba, Alvaro Morata, Alexandre Lacazette and Romelu Lukaku. Things are markedly different from when Matt Busby built his United squad that ended the club’s four-decade trophy drought in 1952. And while this happens, top Premiership clubs farm players on loan. Chelsea, who dominate youth competitions in England and have five players in this World Cup squad, alone have some 30 footballers on loan.

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“It’s more difficult now for young players to get into the first teams because, you know, these owners, they have been spending a lot of money, they want success straightway,” said Paul Scholes, a Fergie Fledgling, recently. Manchester United though are not exactly promoting juniors under Jose Mourinho.

So it fit that Huddersfield Town disbanded their 8-16 years’ academy in the year German coach David Wagner secured their promotion to the Premiership with a little help from compatriots.

“Everybody knows the most important part of youth development is the opportunity at the end, playing first team football. The academies in England can only do what they are doing. They are producing and developing really good talent,” said Cooper.

“These are still relatively young international players. I am sure the opportunity at the end will increase as we have really good players.”

First Published: Oct 12, 2017 17:48 IST