A global Tottenham Hotspur podcast and viewpoint, by the fans for the fans.
by Atour Toma
English football has long had a tradition of loaning out talented young players to the lower leagues – the theory being that they gain invaluable experience in a competitive environment and go back to their parent clubs having developed and brought themselves closer to being involved with the first team.
In recent years – ever since the Harry Redknapp era in fact – Spurs have embraced this strategy, seeing it as more beneficial to a youngster’s progress than using them in meaningless youth friendlies.
Countless youngsters have gone out on loan with mixed results. However, are we now seeing a change in this approach?
Tottenham gave a lot of opportunities to their young players in pre-season, especially in light of many of the senior professionals taking an extended break due to Euro 2016 involvement.
The likes of Harry Winks, Josh Onomah, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Marcus Edwards all featured, and put in impressive performances when called upon.
Marcus Edwards in action here in a pre-season friendly against Juventus
The opening Premier League game of the season saw Winks, Onomah and Carter-Vickers start on the bench. It was a clear statement of intent by Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino that he feels that they are ready to contribute to the first-team picture.
Young goalkeeper Luke McGee is also likely to be named as a substitute next week against Crystal Palace should first choice stopper Hugo Lloris fail to recover from the hamstring injury that forced him off on Saturday.
In years gone by, they would have each been sent out on loan for the season – most probably to a Championship club – to ‘toughen them up’ and ‘make them pay their dues’.
However several former loanees came back to the club at the end of last season – Grant Ward, Alex Pritchard and Dominic Ball being the most notable – before being transferred out again, this time in permanent deals. All three have impressed on loan in the past, but clearly none of them turned out to be the players that Pochettino hoped they would become, and this summer they were promptly moved on.
Harry Kane seen here in 2012 in his loan spell under Kenny Jackett at Millwall
“How much better could Kane have become had he been coached as a youth by Pochettino, rather than the likes of Russell Slade and Kenny Jackett?”
Previous seasons have seem the likes of Jonathan Obika, Andros Townsend and Shaq Coulthirst go the same way. In fact, the last player to go out on a series of loans and come back to become a first team regular is Harry Kane, and they all took place prior to Pochettino taking over. As good as Kane is, how much better could he have become had he been coached as a youth by the Argentine, rather than the likes of Russell Slade and Kenny Jackett?
In the modern era of state-of-the-art training grounds and high-tech sports sciences, the benefits of loaning out youngsters to the lower leagues is open to debate – certainly from the perspective of player development and long-term squad planning. More-so at the highest level the loan system seems to be being used increasingly as an additional source of revenue from the eventual player sales.
In the case of the current crop of emerging youngsters at Spurs it appears that Pochettino would rather keep them at the club where he and his coaching staff can monitor their progress and influence their development as they would like to, rather than putting their faith in a club or a coach that does not have the same degree of competence or professional investment that they do.
“The likes of Eric Dier, Kane and Dele Alli have improved immensely under Pochettino’s tutelage. There’s no reason why Winks, Onomah and Carter-Vickers can’t do the same.”
Tottenham now boast some of the best training facilities in the world, and arguably the best coaching team for developing young talent, so there is clearly some sound logic to this viewpoint. The likes of Eric Dier, Kane and Dele Alli have improved immensely under Pochettino’s tutelage. There’s no reason why Winks, Onomah and Carter-Vickers can’t do the same.
This season will see Spurs battle on four fronts and the demands will be greater than they have even been. Managing a squad through the Champions League and hopefully another Premier League title challenge will be tough. Assuming that Tottenham do not make any more signings in this transfer window, the opportunities will certainly be there for Onomah, Winks and Carter-Vickers to feature for the first team and show what they can do.
It remains to be seen whether putting so much faith in such inexperienced teenagers will be a wise decision by Pochettino. Obviously he feels that he can rely on them more than the likes of Pritchard and Nabil Bentaleb which is a testament to them, while also a damning indictment on the latter two. In addition their development may be better served staying at Tottenham, and training under the senior coaching staff alongside the senior players.
There is, however, the argument that the youngsters are not ready for the step up that the Champions League and a domestic title challenge would bring, and the worry is that a few bad experiences would stunt their progress and possibly have a negative impact of the team’s results.
Time will tell if this will prove to be a wise decision. In Poch, we must trust.
About the author:
AT (Atour Toma) is a Lifelong Spurs fan from London. Prone to spouting football-related nonsense. You can follow him on Twitter @AT_Spurs or https://hurrikaneseason.wordpress.com