Chelsea news

AVB wants B teams in lower leagues

January 20, 2012
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has called for feeder clubs to be admitted to the lower leagues to help provide the "missing link" in English football's development of top young talent.

GettyImagesAndre Villas-Boas is now a free agent

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With highly-rated Chelsea youngster Josh McEachran sent out on loan to Swansea to gain valuable experience, Villas-Boas said he believed the academy system and "not competitive" reserve team league currently in place in England do not prepare young footballers for the transition to the first team.

Instead, the Portuguese manager would like to see the introduction of the feeder club model seen in Spain, where the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona have 'B' teams competing in the second tier.

There has not been a significant graduate from Chelsea's youth set-up, despite heavy investment, since John Terry's emergence more than ten years ago, where-as at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola has given first-team debuts to 25 players who have been promoted from the club's feeder team since he took over as manager in 2008.

Asked why there was such a big disparity, Villa-Boas told The Independent: "Because the gap between the reserve team and the first-team is immense here. Barcelona 'B' play in the equivalent of the Championship. If the European model is applied in England, it could be tested. The reserve team serves the first-team, but it doesn't serve the progression of talent coming through."

"It [buying a feeder club] could be a solution. There is more of a cultural identity [with the parent club] if it's called a 'B' team. It's the same name, the same environment. If it's a feeder club, I couldn't call a player up to my team until the transfer window opens.

Villas-Boas added: "The youth development system in England is not right, in my belief. There is plenty of effort and talks to get it right but in my opinion it is not. The reserve team league is not competitive. The youth levels are not competitive enough. The FA Youth Cup: does it favour talent or competition?

"In my opinion there is a missing link between age groups in all competitions. There should be national championships played between teams from around the country. The older ones should play nationally. The younger ones should play regionally. You promote more talent and competitiveness and it is that which generates talent and willingness to drive."

"What happens in Barcelona 'B' is a good model in terms of competitions. If the talent is playing in [a feeder club] in a competitive league you can call up players, There is immediate identification by the players with the process you're trying to implement in your first team. And it could be a great benefit because you don't have to work with a 26-man squad, but a 19-man squad and just recall the best young guys. If Ryan [Bertrand, who has had seven loan periods] and Josh [McEachran] could make the jump from Championship to Premiership every week, their involvement would be better."

However, Villas-Boas did declare that a new batch of talent was emerging from Chelsea's youth team, which won the FA Youth Cup in 2010 for the first time since 1961.

Villas-Boas said: "They are coming. They are coming. There's a generation coming. I think so. I believe so."

And the Blues boss wants all his loan players to flourish at the clubs they have been sent to, telling them it is not good enough for them to return to Stamford Bridge having failed to establish themselves elsewhere.

As well as McEachran, Patrick van Aanholt and Gael Kakuta were farmed out again this week, moving to Vitesse Arnhem and Dijon, respectively.

The latter two are at their second loan clubs this season, having made just a handful of appearances each at Wigan and Bolton.

Villas-Boas said: "If they're unable to triumph over there, it can't just be a manager's decision. They have to show they are capable of triumphing in a difficult environment. It is never a good option if you come back early - it means something went wrong."