Blackpool’s one-team mission to dominate the goal of the season awards continued unabated against Oxford United last week.
All three goals that flew past Oxford’s keeper were from outside the area and means the Seasiders have now scored a record – across all the leagues – of nine goals from distance.
Gary Bowyer has clearly given his players the freedom and confidence to try these shots and it’s practically impossible to defend against teams who can score from distance.
Newly-promoted Huddersfield Town have been hitting the headlines this week, but not for what’s happening on the pitch.
Huddersfield have made their decision to close down their Academy. They’ve moved to category 4 of the Elite Player Performance Plan, which means the club will be scrapping all youth players under the age of 16.
I find this an extremely sad situation, especially for a team who have just hit the big time and big finances of the Premier League.
This could have been their chance to be the main team in Yorkshire and attract the best young players from the likes of Bradford City, Leeds United and the two Sheffield clubs.
Instead, they face losing generations of young fans and extremely talented players.
Thankfully, the Academy is one area Blackpool haven’t cut back on.
Although they have lost many of their best youth coaches to Fleetwood Town, most notably Ciaran Donnelly, the young players have continued to steadily progress from the youth sides.
They haven’t always stayed – due to less than attractive contract offers – but even when they have departed the club have been compensated financially.
I believe that the Academy is part of a football club’s identity, but from a lot of clubs’ perspective, they just see money being ploughed into the young ones with no return.
Often this is because the ‘big’ Premier League teams tend to have a monopoly on the best young players and with satellite centres around the country they can overcome rules about players having to be local
This move from Huddersfield will have many owners questioning their systems because a lot of the best players that you will find in Football League reserves or Under-19 football have been released from Premier League teams.
They have had elite training at the top level for a number of years and they cost potential new clubs nothing because they’ve been released due to the nigh-on impossible task of breaking into the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea’s first team.