When news happens, text LT and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
Burnley FC Blog: Youth really matters to hard-working Howe
2:35pm Thursday 13th September 2012 in Football
‘GENERAL Hindsight never lost a battle’ was a favourite saying of former Burnley chairman Barry Kilby.
How true. There can’t be many people who wouldn’t do something differently given the opportunity.
Perhaps with hindsight the Clarets would have appointed Andre Villas-Boas as Owen Coyle’s successor instead of Brian Laws (although the Portuguese has still to prove himself in English football).
More recently, perhaps manager Eddie Howe wouldn’t have thrown Cameron Stewart in at the deep end just 24 hours after the winger arrived on loan from Hull City on transfer deadline day. It proved a tough baptism for the 21-year-old against Brighton, lining up alongside many players whose names he was still trying to remember.
But it is the foresight of the Burnley boss that is important to the club and its future.
As the Clarets reporter for this newspaper I am in a privileged position to see more of the day-to-day running of the club behind the scenes than many fans.
The break from domestic fixtures for a fortnight afforded me the time to take a more in-depth look at the youth set-up and what the new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) will mean to Burnley through the eyes of Academy manager Jason Blake.
It was no surprise to hear that Howe is at the heart of the process.
Youth is important to many managers, but it is often a department they pay lip service to and then leave to its own devices, hoping to benefit from the next breakthrough act.
You can perhaps understand their reasoning.
For one thing football managers are judged on first team affairs – results on the pitch are paramount, success in the transfer market is important too.
They have plans for what should happen below the senior set-up. But to find a manager as hands-on as Howe is quite rare.
During my visit to the Elite training Centre at Turf Moor I learnt that while the first team players were given some downtime to reflect on and recover from a tough start to the Championship, there was no let-up for the Burnley boss.
Instead of taking a break himself, he took the opportunity to liaise with Blake about the scholars and schoolboys and the plans for their progress. He watched training sessions, he penned a letter to a new schoolboy signing, which – along with the club dangling the carrot of the more real prospect of achieving first team football through the progression of players including Steven Hewitt, Cameron Howieson and Shay McCartan from the last crop of youth team graduates – meant the difference between that boy choosing Burnley over a Premier League suitor.
We have heard a lot about legacy this summer, this could be Howe’s for the Clarets.
But the fruits of this particular labour aren’t going to become apparent overnight, and of course he couldn't do it without the work of Blake and his band of youth coaches, including former Clarets players Terry Pashley, Andy Farrell, John Francis and John Mullin .
There is the possibility that Howe may have moved on by the time his plan for an improved production line takes hold.
But that won’t stop him from doing the groundwork now.
Comments are closed on this article.