NextGen: Manchester City

marcus_fraser

Marcus Fraser made his competitive debut against Rennes at Celtic Park coming on for Glenn Loovens at half time, a defender actually going 45 minutes without losing a goal and having Majstorovic as his partner must be something of a miracle. Calum McGregor as an attacking midfielder was called into the first team squad away at Rennes and Paul George made it onto the park at Ross County in the league cup.

 

A win is a must after Marseille came back from 2 down to beat Barcelona 4-2 last week. Surprisingly Barcelona had three booked and current star of the Series Dongou sent off.

The table currently looks like this.

Group 1

Team

P

W

L

D

F

A

GD

PTS

Barcelona

4

3

1

0

11

7

4

9

Marseille

4

3

1

0

9

6

3

9

Celtic

3

1

2

0

5

6

-1

3

Manchester City

3

0

3

0

3

9

-6

0

Here’s hoping the mainstream press might push this a bit more and not struggle to know it’s actually on.

Graham Hunter recently included Watt, Twardzik and George as ones to watch in this recent report:

Graham Hunter
24 October 2011

A New Era of Football

When I moved to Spain from London ten years ago it was in search of a different, more technical style of football in comparison to what felt like an increasingly physique and athleticism-driven Premier League.

I could not have anticipated that the era of diminutive gems like Leo Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, David Silva, Juan Mata was about to dawn but it has been both enormously enjoyable and educational to watch the way in which Spain, reigning World and European champions at senior level and European champions at club level, put a premium on technique, skill, intelligence, accurate passing and pressing. I’ve tried to communicate my enthusiasm for those trends on Sky, Talksport, Radio 5 Live, Uefa.com and other media over the years.

Although there has always been a stronger umbilical link between fans and a team which has a good number of locally born or trained footballers I certainly can’t remember another era in my career when youth development has been more en vogue throughout the whole of Europe.

Of course when the Busby Babes were emerging, when Celtic won the 1967 European Cup with a team born in an incredibly small geographical range of Parkhead, at Ajax in the early 1970s and mid 1990’s, or when Sir Alex Ferguson formed a dynasty with home bred talents like the Neville’s, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs fans and media latched on to the unusually rich vein of developed rather than purchased stars.

But due in no small measure to the rampant success of the La Masia system at FC Barcelona the topic of how youthful ability is developed and educated, what age starlets should be promoted to first team football and how to blend the multi-cultural talents who are now dotted around the academies of Europe’s brand name clubs is currently under intense focus.

Which is why, after several months of the Next Generation Series, which has all the feel and style of a Champions League for U19’s, I find it impossible to understand why this brilliant but simple concept hasn’t existed for years.

Budding talents who will, imminently, be starring in the Champions League plus in Ligue 1, La Liga, the English Premier League, Serie A the Eredivisie and so on are being exposed to different footballing cultures, travel and the timetable of the top professionals.

Already, from the games I’ve been at, I’d pick out Jean Marie Dongou, Sergi Samper, Alex Grimaldo (Barça), Tony Watt, Filip Twardzik, Paul George (Celtic) and Oumar Diop (Marseille) as having absolutely outstanding futures – and having given the
fans who turn out for NextGen games terrific entertainment.

But the impact of what the clubs say about this tournament is just as striking. Tim Sherwood, Technical Co-ordinator at Spurs, where Massimo Luongo has impressed, explains that: “Our philosophy is that this is far, far more about development than
about winning. “But the tournament is well structured and it opens up people’s eyes. “We see the best of other footballing cultures and it gives you context. “We are delighted that NextGen really listen to people who know football and use our input”.

Oscar Garcia, coach at Barcelona, adds: “I won the European Cup as a player and this feels like a junior Champions League so we are very proud to be in it. “But we are also proud to have used players born in 1995 against opponents born in 1992 – our guys will be more experienced as a result and have to use speed of thought and intelligence to cope. “I think that some teams probably still have the idea that it’s about winning and thus they take decisions differently on who to play. For us it’s about formation and learning not ultimately about winning.”

Last word to Jean Luc Cassini, Marseille trainer. “We think experience like this is very important. “Barça are in our group and are acknowledged to have the best youth development in Europe. “They are copied everywhere but it’s very exciting for us to
test ourselves against them.”

NextGen, to me, is simply outstanding. Fresh, technically advanced, open, attacking football performed by emerging players who, in my experience, put a high premium on control, touch, vision, passing and skill.

I recommend that you catch it if you can and by all means share your views with me @BumperGraham on Twitter

A Couple of Stars To Watch

Jean Marie Dongou (FCB)
Oscar Garcia says: “We are teaching him to give more to the team but if he adapts and learns as we intend then it’s near to impossible to imagine what limits he has in terms of how far he could go in his career – perhaps he has no limits”

Omar Diop (Olympique Marseille)
Jean Luc Cassini says: “I think he’s the prototype of the modern attacking player, small, strong, quick, technical. There’s also more to come from him. “He has the technical quality and intelligence to succeed in Spain, England, or top
level in France  – no question. “The level he reaches is now up to him”

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