This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
It’s certainly been a fine start to the year for the Birmingham City academy.
With Jude Bellingham breaking the club record for both youngest player and youngest goal-scorer, followed by Odin Bailey scoring the winner against Middlesbrough a few weeks ago, who knows where the kids will end up taking the club. In fact the young players are something that is proving very important to Blues head coach Pep Clotet.
Speaking to BCFC.com, the Spaniard talked about how difficult it is to recruit players, and as a result how he has a ‘duty’ as first-team head coach to develop the young players at the club:
“It’s massively important for us because in football – the business side – it is getting very difficult to recruit because there’s a lot of competition, it’s never easy. Sometimes the young player, with a full career ahead of them, has that spark, that motivation.
“If they have the ability and achieve enough, then the chance comes. If they take that chance they become themselves players. I think we do have this talent here. Not only do I have a chance to use it, but it is my duty for them (the players) and the Football Club.”
Whilst Clotet might have his heart in the right place with these comments, he may be losing sight of the bigger picture.
A head coach’s job first and foremost is to win games, rather than placate fans by simply throwing in young players so they can sing ‘he’s one of our own’. If there is a young player who is coming through and is showing some talent, by all means let them play – but only if they bring something to the team and give you a chance of winning.
Whilst developing a young player is important, it should not come at the expense of three points on a Saturday just for the sake of it.
Given the flack that Clotet has come under in recent weeks for performances, just playing Jude Bellingham won’t be enough to get fans off his back altogether – he needs to get wins under his belt.
If they come with Bellingham playing well, on the bench or out of the team, it really shouldn’t matter so long as they get the three points.
So whilst he may see it as his duty to develop the young players, he also needs to make sure he does his main job first, and that’s making sure Birmingham don’t get sucked into the relegation battle too soon.
It’s a question of priorities, especially when you’re under this kind of pressure.