A look at arrivals and Academy recruitment
The Club is giving an insight into an area which doesn’t often make the headlines - recruitment. This is the third part of the series.
Huddersfield Town has made significant changes in its recruitment operation over the last 12 months, as explained by Head of Football Operations Ross Wilson.
Fans want to see players being brought in to strengthen the team ahead of the 2013/14 Championship campaign and the Club fully understands that, as Wilson explained:
“Any signings that arrive at Huddersfield Town will fit with the Club’s football strategy and the way the Club works, as set by Dean, the Board of Directors and the manager.
“We all understand that fans get excited by players arriving at the Club – so do we! However, they must be the right ones and we will wait as long as it takes to get them. In order for Huddersfield Town to be sustainable, we need to avoid a high turnover of players or accumulating too many in the squad, creating squad management issues, or signing those that just don’t ‘fit’; it’s not conducive to success on the pitch.
“James Vaughan was a good example of this last August. He was the first player I was involved in alongside Simon Grayson and we did extensive work to make sure things worked for us in every sense; we knew how influential he could be, what a good character he is and all his history. We didn’t just rush; it took a long time, but it was worth it – he became our top scorer, Player of the Year and one of the fans’ favourites. At the same time this well and truly killed the myth that loan players may not give everything in a fight, when the pressure is really on. That needs patience and sticking to a plan and approach.
“The Club also has to balance our short term objective of winning in the Championship with our medium and long term goal of bringing quality players through our Academy system and into the First Team. Obviously only Academy players that are good enough will get that opportunity. They are developing every day under our technical staff.
“As we’ve seen, even this season, you can never be 100% sure that any player will be a success whether permanent or loans, but the Club is putting everything in place to bring in the right ones and give them and emerging players every opportunity.”
Town’s Head of Football Operations was also keen to stress the practical meaning behind the sometimes-maligned ‘pathways’ philosophy:
“I think that, in some quarters, supporters can become concerned when they hear us talk about ‘pathways’ – this actually came up at a couple of fans’ forums. This philosophy doesn’t mean that the Club plans to field a team and squad full of home-grown Academy graduates in order to save money or get rid of all the experienced senior players - it means that we want to give our Academy graduates and other young players we recruit from elsewhere, who are good enough, the opportunity to establish themselves in our side, but only if they are good enough and ready to play for Huddersfield Town.
“We do this by carefully constructing our squads from Under-16 to First Team adhering with the Club’s strategy considering the next generation of players, not just the current First Team squad. At the same time, it’s about having a development programme for each one incorporating, perhaps, time on loan at non-league, League 2 and League 1 clubs, and periods in and out of the Under-21 and with the First Team squad. It’s different for all; Alex Smithies came straight into the First Team, whereas Jack Hunt spent time out on loan in non-league and then in League 2.
“It’s about balance. We need to win Championship matches, but there is no point recruiting players over 30 years old on long term contracts for short term fixes if we may have a possible star in the Club whose route to the First Team becomes blocked. We must take a wider view.
“Having these routes to the First Team in mind is a big selling point for our Academy and development players when it comes to recruiting really talented players with big potential. The fact that we can demonstrate our young players will get the opportunity if they make the grade will help us bring better players in initially – it can become a self-fulfilling philosophy. The same applies to a 21 or 22 year-old recruited from another club; they want to be able to see a route into the side and personal success. If they can’t, they may choose to go elsewhere.”
Ross admitted he is excited by the work going on at Academy level:
“We are really pleased with the development of our Academy. Achieving Category 2 status is a significant achievement, particularly considering our facilities were not adequate and our League 1 status for most of the process. That said, over the last 12 years to 2010/11 the Academy’s record in developing players is already up there in the top quarter of all Academies in England. This gives us a great platform with Canalside and Championship status to really push on.
“Our next key step is to appoint a new Head of Academy Recruitment. The focus of that person will be the 8-16 year old players locally and regionally, although there will be other recruitment responsibilities towards the top of the Academy.
“However, we’ve been particularly excited by some of the arrivals at 16+ level over the last few months; we’ve seen the likes of Danny Kane, Philip Billing, Daniel Carr and Bradley Carroll among others join the Club and they all have potential.”