Patrick Roberts, young players, and how to develop them properly


Let’s suppose I want to become an expert at throwing screwed up balls of paper into my bin.

If I sit next to the bin and hold the paper above the bin, I can be fairly sure I’ll hit my target just by opening my fingers and letting the paper fall downwards.

That takes little skill on my part.

Okay, I need to make this a bit harder. If I move my chair a foot away from the bin, now I have to actually throw the paper. I played a bit of basketball and have kept my eye in throwing my daughter’s nappies across our kitchen into a bin, so this isn’t a big deal for me. BUT I have enough self awareness to appreciate that this is no longer going to be automatic. Occasionally I’m going to miss.

If I move back another foot I’m going to get even less reliable.

If I get bored of the whole thing and want to be Steph Curry I can get off my chair and walk a few more feet away. All of a sudden I’m going to keep missing. Missing will be the norm. I can keep trying but I’m still going to keep missing. My technique’s going to go to pieces and it’s basically going to be random. I’ve tried too much, too quickly.

No, the real approach to becoming a paper-to-bin assassin is to take small steps. Master the drop, master the shot from a foot away, master the shot from two feet away, gradually build up the difficulty. I might struggle from 5 feet if I try too quickly, but not if I’ve just spent a week mastering a shot from 4 feet.

during the Capital One Cup fourth round match between Fulham Derby County at Craven Cottage on October 28, 2014 in London, England.
during the Capital One Cup fourth round match between Fulham Derby County at Craven Cottage on October 28, 2014 in London, England.

Now imagine if I went from 1 foot to 10 feet away, and also had lots of distractions. Suddenly there’s a lot of noise around me. Maybe someone keeps kicking me while I’m trying to perform. Maybe someone else is jumping up and saying boo right in front of my face. You’re asking me to go from a foot away to 10 feet away, with all this going on? Honestly? I don’t think my technique’s going to stand up to this. Sure, if I’m a freak I might be able to rise above it, but realistically I need to build up to this test. Get me shooting reliably from 10 feet then get someone kicking me. Hopefully my technique stands up to the stresses.

3 thoughts on “Patrick Roberts, young players, and how to develop them properly

  1. We do seem to have a big problem with player development. Two seasons ago when we were trying to stay in the Premier League these youngsters were all given first team opportunities:
    Passley, David, Tankovic, Plumain, Pritchard, Mesca, Roberts, Dembele, Woodrow and Christensen. Only the latter has become a first choice since (he was about the least heralded of that group at the time), with Woodrow proving himself to be a worthy squad member. Several have left the club. Larnell Cole was also signed but has not featured.

    Of the slightly older group Burn has failed to nail down one of the centre-back spots, despite our obvious need in that position, Kacaniklic continues to be useful rather than a certain pick. Kasami having showed some promise faltered and moved on while Trotta never made it.

    Apart from Christensen and Woodrow the other resounding success has been Bettinelli. We wait to see how many of this last season’s new boys will make it. Kavanagh, Grimmer, Ryan and George Williams, Hyndman and Burgess all still have much to prove.

  2. I think Burn will be fine – we did well with him in the team last year and his development was pretty much ideal in terms of loans et.

  3. i wouldn’t say that we have a big problem intrinsically or systemically but the context we’re in makes it look harder and worse: expectations stemming from the recent performance of our youth at youth level and desperation stemming from our seemingly sudden descent. magath jettisoned so many players he had little choice but to blood youth before their time. they may have won the dallas cup &c &c but that doesn’t make them ready to win promotion from the championship.

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