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Marquee Lite – update

Les Murray, in his latest opinion piece on the World Game site, has come out strongly in favour of the FFA’s “Youth Marquee” initiative. He states his case fairly enough, but in mentioning the current glut of young talent at the Queensland Roar, he has in fact touched on one of the weaknesses of the plan.

It often happens that two or three promising youngsters make their breakthrough at a club at the same time. This has been the case in banana country, with Robbie Kruse, Michael Zullo and Tahj Minniecon all making solid contributions to Queensland’s 2007/08 season (not least from an entertainment perspective). Who gets chosen for the one “Youth Marquee” slot?

This is one of the most illogical aspects of the plan. The potential for disunity within a club squad as a result is considerable. And, again, the grounds for suspicion, given the existing Sydney FC-FFA nexus, are hardly negligible; a little bird has made me aware that Mark Bridge’s salary will be, shall we say, within Marquee Junior range.

As for Les’s other point, that youth are not given a sufficient run in the A-League, there is evidence on both sides. Certainly, in the case of Nick Tsattalios and (to a lesser extent) Kaz Patafta and Nikita Rukavystya, club coaches were shown to be a little on the conservative side last season. Even Frank Farina didn’t actually make use of his young hopefuls until the injuries mounted, and Queensland were crying out for some wholesale changes following their dismal start to the campaign.

But there have been success stories, too. Not least the introduction of Nathan Burns at Adelaide, James Holland at Newcastle, Dario Vidosic at Queensland, and even Ruben Zadkovich late in 2005/06.

But we have seen some cases of younger players making a dazzling debut, yet failing to maintain their early momentum. This was certainly the case with Zadkovich, and I would argue that it applies even to Vidosic and now Zullo to a lesser extent.

In the eternal balancing act, the coaches should probably take a few more risks now that the competition has built a solid foundation. But I don’t think that the A-League coaching fraternity has been quite as craven as Les alleges.

Written by Mike Salter

Read more of his thoughts at The Football Tragic

Written by
Real Football

Published on April 22, 2008

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