With the shock (well it was a shock to me) move of Connor Wickham to Sunderland I would like to ask what peoples feeling are on how you think it would be best for young professional footballers to develop and grow in to their careers.
I am of course talking about the 17-21 years olds that show great potential at the club they've come through and inevitably (these days) get swallowed up by bigger team. This is now happening even before they've actually established them selves at the club that brought them through.
Now this of course is something you can't stop and I wouldn't try to either.
The question of Wickham is would he have been better choosing to stay at Ipswich, moving to a "big" club such as Liverpool or developing his game at mid to lower table Premier League team.
Would Wickham become a better player training day in day out with players like Gerrard, Suarez, Carragher... or would it be better to get more game time in a team like Sunderland, but I feel he will be far from a regular first team starter. I suppose we must consider whether remaining at Ipswich and having a full season in his best position would have been more benficial too.
The development of a player too will much depend on the manager. You could argue that Wickham joining Bolton with Coyle or Wigan with Martinez would have been a better move than joining Bruce at Sunderland.
So did Connor make the right move? Did he see the money on offer and run?
The kid has only signed a 4 year deal which I think puts Sunderland in a precarious postition.
IF he trains on, IF he becomes the player Ipswich have specualted he will, in 2 years time, have the bigger clubs circling him... on the cheap.
I just think it's a really odd transfer.
The Hendersen to Liverpool one though, transversely, I see as a great move for him. Hendersen was boo'ed a 3 occasions by Sunderland fans... now they claim it wasn't at him, but the player felt it was at him and it looked like it was at him on TV. As was pointed out yesterday by Adrian Durham, this was one of their own, a Sunderland fan, a player that had been at the club since he was 14 and all in all just a kid in a mans world. He did well IMO, young players go in peaks and troughs, they excite you with youthful exburance and fustrate you with silly mistakes, but all in all kids like that don't come through your accademy system too often so you always have support them.
Villa fans might be fickle toward their manager but I can't remember a time a young accademy graduate in his first couple of seasons in the first team has ever been boo'ed. I remember the horrible games Luke Moore had for Villa, but he never got jeered.
Anyway back to my point, I think Hendersen will be given the chance to grow by the Anfeild crowd, they will accept the odd mistake for the fact he is a trier with a lot of ability. There might be a section of Liverpools faceless internet warriors who criticise the lad for not being a £20m player straight away, but the Anfeild crowd are normally very good with youngsters...
This is probably the most important move of Wickhams career... these next few year decide if goes becomes a great player or a league 2 battering ram.
I suppose the improtant factor in a move is not the size of the club, but more the personality of the manager and the character of the clubs fans.
What do you think about Wickhams move?
Do you think an underlying factor to the move was the wages offered?
Seems strange Wickham agent makes comments about waiting for a big club like Arsenal or Liverpool and within days he's off to Sunderland....
I think Rooney is a better player now than he would have become if he'd stayed at Everton. But is that thanks to Ferguson or something else? Gerrard is a great player, but I don't feel his true potential has ever been reached, but is that due to the managers he had in the early part of his career?
Or is there no magic answer? Is it just all luck? Fate? or something thing else?
It's hard to know what would've been best for Wickham but I think if he had the choice he would have chosen us. Sunderland moved quicker and more agressively to get their bid accepted from Ipswich. At the minute Sunderland seem happy to sell their big assets (Bent & Henderson) in order to fund cheaper, younger signings. If they continue to do this then they will be happy to make a profit on Wickham in a couple of years time (with 2 years left on his contract they'll still get plenty of money if he's played well) and move on to their next young target. It's a great system for a club of Sunderland's size, they're a big enough club with a big enough fanbase to attract good youngsters in the first place but not so big that their fans won't forgive them for selling their best players.
It must be a very difficult decision for young players when it comes to which club to sign for. Everyone knows that Wenger is happy to give youngsters a chance but even someone as good as Ramsey can see himself fall down the pecking order when a younger player (Wilshire) comes along. Chelsea would have been one of the worst choices for youngsters in recent years, who knows what Villas-Boas' plans are though. Any young players we have paid any sort of money for in recent years have got a fair chance in the team IMO, same with Man Utd. Man City would be an awful choice for youngsters obviously and Spurs filled up their reserves with big money young players a few years ago, some have hit and some haven't but they don't seem to have that strategy any more.
Outside the top 6 it's much of a muchness really. If they do well at these teams then they usually look to move on within a few years. They should really look at the first team squad to see if they'd get an opportunity or not. Sturridge was able to play with Davies at Bolton but would they drop Davies for Wickham? Or maybe they do just accept the best contract they get offered.
For Wickham it is a great move, he has never played in the prem, and will struggle to get into Arsenals team ATM, but at Sunderland they need a striker and Wickham will probably be playing 90% of games (if injury free) so therefore will be able to develop and adapt to the prem. With Rooney he was already a first XI player at Everton and knew the prem and slotted in to Uniteds team and played a fair few games in his first season.
This move gives Wickham the chance to prove he has got it at Prem level and a chance to develop himself against prem opposition, then in a few years move to a big team. Personally I don't think the money played a part, I think he wanted to play in the prem in a club that he thought would develop him the best and I say good luck to him, I hope he is Englands next big star. Then we cant get him for 18m rising to 24m :P