Future of the Blues is put in hands of Jason
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