Fu­ture of the Blues is put in hands of Ja­son

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By SI­MON BAJKOWSKI

CITY have ap­pointed Ja­son Wil­cox as their new academy di­rec­tor.

Di­rec­tor of foot­ball Txiki Be­giris­tain wel­comed the news, say­ing: “Ja­son has been a highly val­ued and in­te­gral part of our academy struc­ture for many years, and is a nat­u­ral fit for the po­si­tion as he shares the club’s vi­sion for de­vel­op­ing young foot­ball tal­ent.

“I am de­lighted that Ja­son has ac­cepted this chal­lenge, and ev­ery­one at Manch­ester City wishes him well as he steers our academy into the next phase of its de­vel­op­ment.”

Be­ing re­leased by the club at the age of 15 ended up kick­start­ing a play­ing ca­reer for Wil­cox that in­cluded Black­burn, Leeds, Le­ices­ter and Black­pool, and the 46-year-old has been at the Blues on the academy coach­ing staff for five years.

Hav­ing filled in as in­terim di­rec­tor, Wil­cox is well placed to know what is go­ing well and where im­prove­ments can be made. As he set­tles down into the job, here are four ar­eas that the Blues can work on.

AP­POINT SOME­ONE ELSE WIL­COX’S ap­point­ment as academy di­rec­tor fills the va­cancy left by Mark Allen’s de­par­ture in the sum­mer.

But who takes Wil­cox’s pre­vi­ous po­si­tion as head of academy coach­ing is less clear.

The for­mer Black­burn winger had been do­ing both jobs in the in­terim at the start of this sea­son, but it is not fea­si­ble to do that when both roles are so im­por­tant to the club.

Ex-Barcelona duo Be­giris­tain and Fer­ran So­ri­ano en­trusted Rodolfo Bor­rell - the man that first coached Lionel Messi at La Ma­sia - with that job be­fore Wil­cox, and Pep Guardi­ola saw enough value in his skills to pro­mote him to his first-team staff.

Given so much needs to go right for academy play­ers to make the first team, it would be an over­sight that City sim­ply can’t af­ford if they were not to get a han­dle on the two dis­tinct jobs.

PUT A POS­I­TIVE SPIN ON THE ACADEMY THERE have been a few too many un­wanted head­lines con­cern­ing the academy in the last 12 months.

The Premier League have banned City from sign­ing play­ers for two years (with the sec­ond year sus­pended) over the tap­ping-up of two school­boys, while Velez Sars­feld have taken City and FIFA to the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport over the trans­fer of Ben­jamin Garre.

The Blues do plenty of good their com­mu­nity or ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes, for ex­am­ple - but are ret­i­cent to blow their own trum­pet and have not ben­e­fit­ted from that ap­proach.

CON­VINCE GUARDI­OLA OF THE TAL­ENT IT would be wrong to charge Wil­cox and the academy of bring­ing through play­ers for the first team.

Only so much can be done be­fore it comes down to the trust of the man­ager, and both Manuel Pel­le­grini and Pep Guardi­ola have been largely un­will­ing to trust in the play­ers of­fered up to them. The newly-ap­pointed academy di­rec­tor held up Phil Fo­den, Brahim Diaz and Tosin Adara­bioyo as three ex­am­ples to follow for their shared ‘strive to be the best they pos­si­bly can be every day of their lives.’

That may be, but they also have zero Premier League min­utes be­tween them.

Un­til play­ers can see a clear path­way from the academy sta­dium over the road and grad­u­ates on the pitch, you will con­tinue to get sit­u­a­tions as with Jadon San­cho where tal­ented prospects view their first-team op­por­tu­ni­ties as bet­ter off else­where.

WIN SOME­THING WIN­NING isn’t ev­ery­thing, of course, as ev­ery­one is at pains to say.

If City don’t win any­thing at youth level in the next five years but bring through play­ers it will have been a roar­ing suc­cess.

How­ever, that process is nei­ther in­stant nor sim­ple and cer­tain tro­phies will not be in­signif­i­cant for the Blues.

On the big oc­ca­sions in the last few years, City’s Un­der-18s and EDS have not hit close to their po­ten­tial.

Some­times, they have been beaten by bet­ter teams, other times, they have not.

As the first-team have shown this sea­son, a win­ning men­tal­ity is crit­i­cal to get­ting re­sults in big games and the academy don’t quite ap­pear to be there yet.

City’s new academy di­rec­tor Ja­son Wil­cox

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