I've been thinking about this for a long time but I think it is time I put the thoughts in writing. Many see me as being an unjust critic of our management team but out of all the things the management does, the youth "policy" that initially started with Facchetti and now continued by Branca, is extremely puzzling and strikes as either complete naivety or complete incompetence. Based on the current state of Inter, I tend to lean to the side of complete incompetence.
In business (or in life), prior to making significant decisions, it is prudent and wise to perform due diligence. It is prudent to study, research, and investigate what has been successful in the past, what is successful now, and what has failed. Only then can a business decide on a strategy that has a higher chance of success. Conversely, without such due diligence, the probability of failure is much, much higher.
Branca and Moratti have made the strategic decision to invest in young, talented, cheaper players who are ready to contribute. While not a revolutionary or new concept, it is a wise concept. Key word being CONCEPT. As I've said above, I've thought about this for a long time and came up with the 3 essentials for such a concept to work.
A look at past and current teams that have been successful at implementing this concept have a culture around the club regarding developing youth. This culture comes from a clear and consistent message that developing youth players comes before anything else and that the everything about the club is geared towards ensuring that youth players develop and become successful at the club. Most importantly, this message must be real and must manifest itself in tangible ways (and not just words):
- Constant stream of youth players being promoted to the senior squad
- Youth players getting consistent on-the-field opportunities with the senior team
- Actual youth players becoming mainstays on the senior team
These are just to name a few. Doing these 3 things give young players coming in a vision of their future. It shows them that they actually have a chance to breakthrough to the senior squad and can even be mainstays on the squad. Essentially, it attracts the best youth players. It is why some of the best young players want to play for Arsenal or Porto. We can look at teams like Arsenal, Ajax, Barca, and Porto, who've taken the time to develop this culture at their clubs. You look at a team like Dortmund and Napoli, who, in a short time, have been able to create that culture at their club.
Does Inter have a culture of youth development? Have Inter taken strides to develop such a culture?
Many would argue with this, but the answer to both questions is no. We do not have a culture of youth. We may want to say it, but we actually don't implement it. An important part of the "culture" is that youth development is first. That cannot be said about Inter. Over the past 10 years, how many consistent, starting players on the Inter team came from the youth team?
Remember that culture cares about youth development first and as such, making it easier for the players to transition to the senior squad is vital. As such, having a uniform, consistent playing system/philosophy throughout the ranks (from youth all the way to senior squad) is key to having a successful youth program. One of the first things Wenger did at Arsenal was implement a system for the entire club to follow. All his coaches will teach within the framework. It is the same thing Ajax has done since the 70s. It is what Cruyff stole and brought to Barca. It is something that Porto has been doing for years. It is something Germany as a whole did after World Cup 1998 (and we're seeing the benefits now with Ozil, Gotze, the Benders e.t.c). This facilitates greater learning, greater mastering of positions, greater tactical understanding and easy transitioning to the senior squad. It is why players like Cesc, Ramsey, Wilshire can, at a young age, be very, very good. It is why Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, and now Alcantara can be very good. It is why Porto can sell all their players and still be successful the next year. It is why those players, who have individual differences, all play similarly.
Does Inter have a consistent system or philosophy?
No. And far from it. It is not even worth it to go beyond that. Our revolving door of managers with vastly different philosophies is enough to prove this point.
(3) Scouting/Talent Evaluation
Even with the above 2 in place, vital to any youth program is excellent scouting and talent evaluation. How is it that Barca can keep producing talented mids? How is it Porto and Sporting continue to produce attacking players? (Have you seen James Rodriguez? Kid is amazing). The answer is simple. Scouting. You want to make a quality cake? No matter how nice your baking pan or the oven is, or how fancy your timer is, you need quality ingredients. And like it or not, like with everything else in life, there are good scouts, mediocre scouts and bad scouts. It's why everybody in your high school class didn't get 90% in math. Some people are good at it and some are not. All these clubs with a successful youth policy have excellent scouts.
Does Inter have excellent scouts?
Our track record speaks for itself. No.
So, what does this all mean? It simply means Inter does not have the infrastructure to implement this so called "youth policy". It means that after all the talking up by Moratti and Branca, the final result will be the same; no quality youth players breaking through. It means this who youth policy is a fallacy.
This is why it amazes me when Inter fans "grade" our mercato or our youth players. It amazes me because the infrastructure is the same, yet people expect different results. We have the same lousy culture, no system in place, lousy scouts but expect different results.
I remember last season people were praising the "long term project" of Branca by signing Mariga, Biabiany, and Coutinho. We sold Biabiany in 6 months. We loaned Mariga after a year. The best ever from our youth team we sold before he could be a starter (Balotelli). We sold our 2nd best (Santon). We've loaned/sold countless others. We've sold half of Obi. This is the reality. This is representative of what youth means to Inter. Yet, Branca still goes and signs Castagnos, Alvarez and Poli and tells Inter fans "this is the future!".
This is why I am so against our management. Don't try to convince me things are looking good, when all Branca has done is taken shit off the ground and put it in a gift-wrapped box. It's the same shit Branca.
I am all for a youth policy. But to do this, Inter needs a complete overhaul. Sadly, this overhaul has to come from the President all the way down the scouts. We just need people who are BETTER at doing their jobs.