Selling the farm

More news about a young player we’ll never really see.

A source close to the situation divulged on Tuesday afternoon that the 19-year-old will be allowed to leave Craven Cottage for training-only stints with prospective buyers as the Championship season unfolds. It is in this manner that he can choose his next employer.

The 19 year old is Emerson Hyndman, who actually looked pretty capable in the team’s engine room under Magath, has shown composure beyond his years, and is now certain to go somewhere else.

It’s probably too soon to mark this down as ‘an alarming trend’, but equally, we had high hopes for this generation of Fulham youngsters and one by one they’re all disappearing.

The article above notes that Fulham have offered a new deal to the player, but, just as happened with Patrick Roberts, have little power in the situation with the contract on the verge of expiring.  I appreciate that it’s easy to sit here and criticise things that are presumably much harder to control than we might ever imagine, BUT it’s dismaying to see another talented player about to leave.  Dan Burn can go in the summer, so too can Moussa Dembele, and Lasse Vigen Christensen can be off a year later.

Part of me wishes the club had done what Magath actually tried to do, namely commit to youth. We all saw how dangerous a tactic that could have been, but in many ways it’s hard to disentangle the general idea from the executioner of this idea: could someone like Dario Gradi have made this approach work?

You can build a team any way you like, but if you’re somehow able to grow one from within then there’s a suspicion that somehow this is a better thing, that this leads to better outcomes.  In a parallel universe out there is a team that’s competing for the 2019-20 Premier League title, with grizzly veteran David Stockdale in goal, twin pillars Burn and Burgess (together as a pairing for 5 seasons) at the heart of the defence, and Hyndman and LVC running games from the middle of the park.  Patrick Roberts is unstoppable on the wing, and Woodrow and Dembele are almost telepathic by now.

No, I know.  This couldn’t and wouldn’t have happened, but it’s a future that’s within the realms of the dreamable, a path the club might have taken, a path that could scarcely have been worse than the one the club *did* take, and one that would have united the fan base for some time.  Everyone likes to see the kids getting a chance, and a home-grown team would have felt special.

Naive, nonsensical, I know, I know.  But every time one of these gifted young players leaves the club for not much we’re reminded of the extent to which the whole organisation has made an absolute dog’s dinner of the last few seasons.  It’s been beyond shambolic.

9 thoughts on “Selling the farm

  1. It’s disappointing to see a player like Hyndman leave. But, as with Roberts, we’re in a difficult situation with balancing youth development to the team’s current standing. If we play the kids, we risk dropping down a league, losing revenue once again, or worse, struggling to escape League 1. If we don’t play them, naturally, they’ll look for a better opportunity. We have deprived the first team of proven starters for too long, and in turn, needed to overhaul the squad to stabilize the club. What suffers is bringing youth into the first team. The hope is we get revenue in return for players moving on (Roberts, Ruiz, etc.) I see FFC building a foundation which keeps us in the top of the Championship using proven players (how many ‘Player of the Year’ types did we pick up this offseason?), while maintaining the youth academy pipeline. If we return to the EPL, Kahn should purchase the players where needed to keep us up, and infuse the academy players where appropriate. Not selling the farm, but more reallocating assets and reinvesting across a broad swath.

  2. I try not to be too much of an apologist for the club but I feel you may be being a bit harsh here. I fully agree that what has gone on with Hyndman has been beyond poor and he should have been playing more last season. It will be a real disappointment to see him go and he will become a good player.

    But as for the overall youth system – I think they’ve done a pretty good job. 5 years ago Fulham had no real youth system to talk of with barely one youth player every few seasons coming through. The current youth crop were meant to be good, and they’ve delivered on their promise, no? Roberts was sold purely because he is English and even if he had played last season he still would’ve gone to a top 4 club. We’ve got Williams, LVC, Dembele, Woodrow, Bettinelli, Burn and Kavanagh who are all relative regulars at first team level. And that is from one batch of the youth team. The key is getting a conveyor belt of talent, and that is what appears to be happening, with the current u18s apparently even better than those that have come before.

    Realistically, we will have to sell one youth product per season (at a minimum) because if they are good, there will always be a bigger team interested. Southampton have flourished using this model and if we keep the sensible structure that has been built then we will too. I’m not sold that the current manager is the man we want in charge of this, but at least when they look for new recruits we have some sort of identity to cling to where previously we had none.

    Sorry for the rant, but it is rosier than it looks IMO. I also have a sneaky feeling that Dembele will sign a new contract once he gets a run in the team.

    (One other thing – we all bemoan the contract situations with the youth, but players like LVC was given a long contract when it was looking like he was going to be let go due to injury problems. I’m sure the club will look to keep him and he may want to repay the initial faith in him shown by the club)

  3. I think you have to know why they want to leave.

    More money? More first team opportunities? No faith in the management? A desire to be with a big Premiere League club?

    Any or all of these but what actually disgusts me is that they’re good enough to have agents and a sense of entitlement but aren’t at least prepared to wait to move upwards until they’ve managed to break into a so so Championship side.

    Maybe Rigg. Khan and Symons are to blame in some way but i suspect that it’s circumstances beyond their control.

    Whatever it’s a real shame.

  4. Hyndman was the U20 captain at the world cup for the US, so there’s no doubt he’s got Klinsmann whispering in his ear weekly to seek out higher levels to play at. I can’t fault his ambition. But at the same time, at his age he needs to play and play and play, and you’d think Fulham would be a good place for that unless he just doesn’t cut it.

    Does he cut it? I’m not sure! I’m certainly no judge of youth talent, and I’ve barely seen him play — a few US games, a lot of Gentleman Jim audio, and the odd blurry bootleg stream. I get the sense that he’s improved, which is a shame because he only had a steady run of games under Magath, so it’s hard to say what he actually is right now.

    Anyways, it seems like a shame since if we lose him, the club seems unlikely to even get anything in return.

  5. Definitely Jurgen and his wise words again. Actually Kit has been very good at blooding the youngsters and, even if we lose Emerson, we’ll still have a good core of homegrown development, such as:

    G. Williams

    Mixed in with some Championship experience that looks like a competitive squad. That’s before we get to see how the next crop (featuring De la Torre, Paton and Humphries) get on as they progress.

    The nature of the game is that we probably have to look to sell one of our most promising youngsters each year until we get back to the top flight. Still plenty to be excited about.

  6. A nice conversation / debate here. I feel more disconnected than I have in years despite making an effort so appreciate things like this.

    I coincidentally saw this Hyndman news earlier in the day yesterday and was disappointed. I’d taken to watching US U-21 games, something I’d normally skip, to see Fulham’s Hyndman in action! Echoing sentiments above, I wish he got more minutes and can’t blame him for wanting to go elsewhere to get them. The Championship is a damn fine place for an American his age to be playing. Higher levels may be tough considering he’s so young and unproven. Think of his peers stuck in the US College system, compared to them he’s getting an experience that will give him a massive advantage–but obviously he needs more minutes than he’s getting. Hope he doesn’t return to the US because I agree with Klinsmann that the best Americans should be playing in Europe and not college or MLS.

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