Monday, April 26, 2010


One of those weekends when football had to take a backseat unfortunately. But I couldn't avoid hearing that Neil Lennon had "rubbished" the McLeish Report.

Found that a bit strange as I couldn't understand how Lennon would have had time to read and digest the report before his Friday press conference.

As ever the devil is in the detail. Here's what he actually said:
On the day that Henry McLeish revealed his dossier to improve Scottish football at grassroots level, Neil Lennon admitted to concern regarding the over-coaching of players from a young age.

Lennon, the Celtic interim manager, remains to be convinced that academy systems at clubs prompt a better development of youngsters than would take place without them. The Northern Irishman also believes the claim that inadequate facilities are at the root of Scotland’s football troubles is an overly simplistic one.

"Would Wayne Rooney or Aiden McGeady have come through without an academy?” Lennon asked. “Of course they would have. I’m not saying we don’t need them but I think coaching kids at seven or eight years old is wrong. Just throw them a ball and let them play, don’t take away their natural instincts."

Celtic’s own youth system, indeed, was not beyond reproach from Lennon. “I understand the competitive nature of academies as all the big clubs hoover up all the best kids at a young age and throw money at them,” he said. “We’re trying to compete with that but I don’t like it. It’s a necessity in the modern game but I still think it’s wrong.

"Kids get brought in to clubs at eight or nine years old then sometimes get released after just six weeks. How’s that kid going to feel? I’ve seen the [coaching] forms for eight year olds: can they do this or that? How is their co-ordination? You think, ‘for god’s sake.’

"We’re probably happy with our system but since McGeady, who have we really produced of his class? Not many that can walk into the first team, although I must say we have got a few good ones coming through.

"Maybe these things go in cycles, a barren few years and then three or four coming through. The cream will always come to the top. Rangers, have they produced any of late apart from Danny Wilson who’s been a bonus for them this season?

"So you talk about facilities and kids getting the best of everything but I keep going back to them having that hunger. Kids have agents at 14, some have boot deals. I think it’s obscene."
I don't think that's "rubbishing" the report. It sounds more like something constructive being added to the debate. If the McLeish Report is anything it should be a springboard for change rather than a step by step guide to change.

But Neil Lennon "broadly in agreement with McLeish report, thinks youth set up needs overhaul" wouldn't be such a snappy headline.

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