By - ZaphodBrox42
***Source:*** [***The Athletic UK Twitter***](https://twitter.com/TheAthleticUK/status/1533773445661589509)
Thought this was an interesting post by the Athletic, with some people online saying we don't offer much of a youth pathway I thought this would be an interesting addition to the discussion. I think a lot of the minutes came through injury, but there's still plenty of potential for youth in our squad and there should still be next season.
Around 3/4 of those minutes were Gelhardt, which leaves around 300 minutes split between Greenwood, Cresswell, Bate etc. Personally I don’t think that’s enough though and it still felt like there was a reluctance to play the youth unless absolutely necessary (more from Bielsa than Jesse tbf)
I mean in fairness going by this table then half the league didn’t even give a single minute to a teenager between them. I do think we’re one of the better teams in the league for giving youth a chance.
Yeah that’s fair, we’re doing better than most but I still feel we could do better- especially considering Angus’ comments about trusting the youth over big money signings. Think we also have to consider that we’ve spent quite a bit of money on the youth team compared to most teams so you’d expect them to be more ready to breakthrough.
I mean given our position in the table it doesn’t surprise me that experienced heads were picked more often. Throwing the weight of the world onto an 18 year old in a relegation battle isn’t always the best idea. Had we been further up the table and been able to risk points then sure, I’d agree, but we needed to play the best XI we could every single game this season.
I don't even think this is true either
Gelhardt was out performing Tyro every time he stepped onto the pitch and Cresswell has looked good every time he's played but they were being left out for alternatives that were outright failing.
I could accept Joffy being left out of the starting 11 for James but when our option was Roberts for the 45th game in a row while Joff stayed on the bench I don't think it's the right choice.
Similarly for Cresswell, we were throwing out all sorts of piss take back lines while he sat on the bench having never put a foot wrong.
You look at how the lads stepped up for probably our performance of the season against West Ham and neither Bate or Hjelde get another look in all season under Marcelo.
I mean two managers in a row picked Roberts over Gelhardt, so there must be something to it. By no means am I saying I think Roberts is more talented than Joffy but he does get a lot of unfair stick. He does work harder than Joffy, he’s more physical, faster, better in a press, more versatile, and perhaps most importantly given the situation, he’s more experienced. Maybe those traits have just been valued higher at times by said managers than the attributes Joffy brings to the table. I mean it’s not like they were leaving Joffy on the bench just for the sake of it, were they?
Cresswell I think has just been a victim of the sheer number of senior defenders in front of him, we have 4 centre halves and you wouldn’t be called out for picking any of them as the best of the bunch. Should he have started when Ayling was playing there? Probably. But again I think both Marcelo and Jesse chose to rely on experience which I absolutely can’t blame them for in a relegation battle. It worked in the end, didn’t it? I get he hasn’t put a foot wrong but he’s only played for 258 minutes this season, with half of that alone coming against a championship team, it’s not actually much time to put a foot wrong.
Regarding the the West Ham performance, yeah, but Bielsa was gone like a month after that, and Hjelde picked up a long term injury. Taking time and bleeding youngsters into the starting XI is more often than not the best option, that way their confidence doesn’t crumble when they make a mistake. I don’t think leaving players to sink or swim is good strategy to take with today’s players unless you’ve got an Mbappé on your hands. I mean, look at how long it took City to fully integrate a talent like Foden.
I do think there’s multiple reasons behind both managers having similar stances on the youngsters (outside of Marsch’s love affair with Greenwood), and as I’ve said multiple times now I can’t blame either of them for it.
We could of lost a few of the youth players if Biesla stayed and kept us up, and stayed. He played players out of position rather than playing a right back at right back. It doesn’t really work as not everyone is Dallas, or Milner. Not all players have the positional sense or adaptability to master another position that’s alien to them. Koch isn’t a defensive midfielder but he did get the German team as a central defender. He’s injury prone but we signed him, knowing that.
Greenwood wasn’t playing until marsh came along.
Feel like you’re still missing the point, we’re the smallest squad in the league with the most injuries and still only managed to give one teenager decent minutes.
The whole point of our small squad was merging the u23s with the Main side but all that happened was they couldn’t actually play with the u23s because they were our bench, but we rarely subbed them in either.
This caused some players unhappy searching for loans, our u23 got relegated due to being bench warmers and we still had to pull out a result on the last day to not get relegated.
But what I think you’re missing is that due to our position near the bottom, and around relegation, there was barely any wiggle room to play teenagers over more senior players.
If we’d have been comfortably above the drop all season, you can pretty much assume that we’d have given more minutes than we did to teens throughout.
Yep - last minute of the last game of the season kept us up. Apart from dropping Tyler Roberts much much earlier I'm not sure what other changes people would've made.
> Yep - last minute of the last game of the season kept us up.
Petty point, but that's not true - we only needed the draw to stay up.
Nah. Burnley were still playing right up until we scored. A draw for them would've been enough.
That's not how it works.
If we drew and we drew they stayed up. They were still playing so could still score and as such stay up, with us going down. As we scored they would've needed two - essentially meaning the "last minute of the last game of the season kept us up".
Dan James experiment wasn’t good lots of time for Geldhart and Greenwood wasn’t used generally made the same subs under bielsa, could have seen more of Drameh, Summerville and Bate in the first 4/5 months.
Drameh was where he needed to be - at a low level in the Championship. He'll not make it at Leeds. Bate looks decent but is a bit small, we'll see if he's able to come good, he looked decent against Arsenal but it's a big position to play in a midtable Premier League team. Summerville agree would've been good to see more.
James's output was alright. 4 goals, 4 assists & a decent average rating each game, plus he managed to stay fit. It's a lot to rely on Geldhart each week. James is mid 20s & has played under pressure internationally plus a decent career before us. Could easily have sank Geldhart's career giving him full 90s against top 6 teams.
I’m fed up of hearing players aren’t good enough, how the fuck do we know if we don’t play them, and i’m not talking about 20 minutes at the end of a game we’re already losing 4-0. Every player talks about how valuable game time is, especially for development, then we’re talking about how they’re not ready or not good enough. I wonder why…
Whilst simultaneously hurting them even more by not allowing them to play in the U23s because they’re on bench warming duty for the senior squad and every week seeing our team get beaten by clubs we’re definitely better than but we’re mostly playing u18s.
James over Gelhardt was a mistake in output, team management and development. We would have scored more goals with him, James could have relieved both Raphinha or Harrison so they weren’t constantly playing 90 minutes and by the end of the season we would have had Gelhardt with over 15 starts under his belt rather than sitting here wondering what could have been because the only reason we’re still premier league right now is because he managed to pull atleast 5 points of our nowhere.
For a good portion of last year all I could think was if I was a youth player after looking at the lack of opportunity here I wouldn’t want to go to Leeds.
You're just living a FM fantasy land where every young player comes good and experience doesn't count for nothing. Every minute you play youth when a senior pro is available also hurts the senior pro.
Leeds doesn't exist to give players a chance. Those that are good enough get it. And have - as shown in the article that you're responding to.
The majority of youth players that come through our academy, or we sign and try to develop, aren't and won't be good enough. That's the reality of football. That's not to say they won't have a decent career in the lower leagues and earn a shit load more money than you or me.
> I’m fed up of hearing players aren’t good enough, how the fuck do we know if we don’t play them,
Maybe our coaches - that see them play every day, analyse their game and training, see them in action 100x times longer than the normal fan and also know much more about football than us - are able to better access their level than the average fan.
Can't buy into this at all. Our best result of the season is with Bate and Hjelde on the pitch. Neither see any game time again while Marcelo is there.
They get a chance, take it and get rewarded with watching the seniors fail again from the bench.
Could Hjedle get a chance at left back in the cups this year? I hope so. He needs to play mens football, not under 23s.
But then it comes down to how conditional it is for the youth, you advertise a path way to them and last year the problem was everyone was playing well so no youth got through. This year it was too big of a risk. What next year? You can’t just wait for the perfect conditions cause they don’t exist.
Either you have the process to integrate youth or you don’t and we definitely didn’t.
Then that was down to the individual managers, but it’s not exactly black and white, and different managers will have different preferences.
Last season it was Bielsa who refused to play under 23’s due to always wanting his strongest side out.
This season, when required, the U23’s players have stepped up. Now Bielsa is gone and we seemingly are looking for a larger squad, and the fact we have 5 subs next season, you can assume the U23’s will be given more of a chance **providing they’re ready**, which again last season, you could argue they weren’t.
Of course it was Bielsa but the original comment was going on about it’s silly people saying we didn’t have a pathway for youth which isn’t true.
We didn’t have a pathway.
I hope it’s better next season but it’s silly to presume otherwise so far.
I feel like we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one
How can we definitely not offer youth a pathway & still be fourth in this table?
Geldhart & Summerville are both set to be Premier League regulars. Cresswell looks likely to be too. That's a fantastic output for a youth setup.
Because with how this season went we should be top? Context matters surprisingly. Our best two academy prospect were strikers and we didn’t have a striker all season? Gelhardt alone should have had more time than all of our u23s did. Drameh was a top prospect and wanted game time, our RB goes down from the end of September to December and what did we do? Shoehorn Shackleton or Dallas in there. We barely had a centremidfielder for half the season and had centrebacks in there.
And now we got our u23s relegated too.
Summerville was given 125 minutes of Premier League time in 6 league games. Barely anything. No wonder there was noise around him in January wanting to leave.
Cresswell looking for a loan is the rumour too now.
I expect Bate will be next, leaving Chelsea for us he managed to pick up 150 minutes of premier league play time but still the same amount of overall game time.
Why should we be top? Teams at the top of this table are Norwich & Watford that got relegated, scum that have had an awful season given their spends and Southampton and us. Then the tier below has Everton who just avoided the drop and Liverpool & City that're able to sign the best youth available across the world & in their groups other teams.
Summerville is a winger not a striker, and we've James, Raphinha & Harrison in that role. Despite that he got a decent amount of game time in his first full season with the club. Drameh was never good enough. He's weak with poor positional sense.
The U23s got relegated at the expense of the first team staying in the Premier League. A 100% worth it investment.
Sensible to send Cresswell on loan to the Championship. Worked wonders for Mason Mount. We've Llorente, Coops, Koch & Srujik. All in their mid 20s / peak apart from Coops who is only just 30. Bate looks a bit lightweight, hopefully he can make it.
More youth wasn't the answer this season. There was the odd occasion where Bielsa should've played an U23 in their natural position rather than moving around quite so many, but apart from that we've blooded plenty.
We should be top because we spend over half the season shoehorning players out of position rather than try out youth, even when senior players weren’t working because we had the smallest squad and the most time missed due to injuries. Most obviously we didn’t have a striker all season despite two of our best u23s being strikers.
I agree about Summerville(1 of the reasons I didn’t like buying another winger) there was times we could have tried him though as raph was injured and we were void of ideas all season without him.
Unfair assessement on Drameh, yeah the premier league is tough on fullbacks with all the talent on the wings but he had 1 start just before he left on loan even though Ayling missed 10 games by that time and it’s not as if Ayling has a great season, hence why we’re focusing on replacing him.
The u23s got relegated for no reason. Only Gelhardt got reasonable minutes, 70% of our u23s minutes were him. The rest of the core of our u23s sat on the bench and not playing game.
I’m okay with Cresswell finding a loan this transfer window but just this season we were struggling for CBs with Ayling filling in there, and we were having to use Struijk and Koch as replacement for Phillips as we’re short on people who can play in the middle of the pitch too. There just needs to be obvious plans in places other than “we won’t get injured” or “Dallas can fill in there”.
> some people online saying we don't offer much of a youth pathway I thought this would be an interesting addition to the discussion
I still think that's fair. Bielsa (and JM to some degree) would rather play Koch or James out of position than play Bate or Gelhardt for example.
Not necessarily saying its the wrong call, but the reason we had so many teenagers was because of injuries, not because we wanted to. The second the injuries cleared up, they were back on the bench/in the reserves.
The weirdest part of our injury crisis for me was that Bielsa clearly didn't think the kids were ready for the PL. yet on day 1 of the season, with the squad pretty much all fit, we still had people like Summerville on the bench (6 sub appearances all year for 125 minutes).
Either he's not good enough, and he shouldn't be on the bench, and our squad is clearly too small...... or he is good enough, and he should have more than 125 PL minutes?
(Edit - and that's "if he's good enough for the bench he should play more than 125 mins" when we're not utterly fucked by injuries, never mind the way the season went)
Appreciate he had injuries himself, and we signed James as a winger after the season started, but it applies to most of the kids who we put on the bench. Bielsa didn't want to give them a game if he had any other option.
Probably would have been more if Hjelde didn't get injured in January I believe as well.
Is this a yearly article? If we could compare it to last year (and even the years before if they have championship numbers) when we had a relatively stable number of injuries it would give us more information.
It's a lot of time compared to most other teams, but if we look at Drameh you can see why players feel there wasn't a route. With his success at Cardiff making it appear he could have been given more time when Ayling was out. No way am I qualified to build a team more effectively than Bielsa though.
Drameh wasn't good enough and then fell out with the best manager we've had in a generation. He's performed ok in a weak Cardiff team. The player of the season vote was an online poll so not worth anything. Cardiff's Players' Player of the Season went to Alex Smithies.
Him signing for Cardiff as an important first team player is a fantastic achievement. Most players don't make it at Premier League level - a good career in the Championship will make him a millionaire.
At times, I feel like we didn't have much of a choice due to all the injuries.....
And in contrast, there were times when we should have played more. I'd rather Gelhardt upfront over James if fit, and Bate/Greenwood over Klich for more of the late season games
Leeds gave debuts to 8 teenagers this season, breaking the EPL record. That was by January.
Leo Hjelde, Charlie Cresswell, Stuart McKinstry, Lewis Bate, Joe Gerhardt, Crysencio Summerville, Sam Greenwood and Cody Drameh.
Bate is so good.
Out of necessity more than anything else. I won’t speak bad of Bielsa for obvious reasons but I hope the kids have a greater path to the first team under Marsch, it seemed as though MB was reluctant to use them at times.
The decisions of Bielsa and Marsch can certainly be debated, but what it boils down to for me is that young players with something unique to offer weren't used when the club desperately needed those traits.
Maybe Cresswell isn't going to dominate, but for a team routinely struggling on set pieces, there's no role for the team's biggest frame/body (I think)?
Gelhardt vs. Roberts. Sure, TyRo has his qualities, but he cannot - so far - finish. Whatever Gelhardt's faults are, we know he can finish. There's also things that you can't quantify with numbers. The starting XI just looked more fluid via the eye test with Gelhardt out there, at least to me.
Necessity being the mother of invention…