RIP Phil

by the Abbot on November 28, 2014

in Cricket

hughes

Phillip Hughes, Australia: 1988 – 2014

“Shocked to hear about Phil. Sad day for cricket. Deepest condolences to family, friends and well wishers. RIP.” - Sachin Tendulkar.

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Pretty different from when I played, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

Some of the best goals in the world are now scored with the reverse-stick sweep – others off body spins that weren’t even allowed a generation ago.

All in all a much more exciting game now – better rules, more athletic players.

Watch & marvel.

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TFC academy

MLS owners are upset with US National Team manager Jurgen Klinsman these days for advising the best young American soccer talent to seek opportunities overseas. And rightly so. MLS owners are investing millions in their shiny new academies only to see their very best products spurning their contract offers to go abroad and play at the highest level possible.

As a long-time coach who understands the importance of maximizing everything, I find it hard to argue with Klinsmann’s current viewpoint that Europe sets a higher bar for player development than MLS. If I were national team manager I’d want my players pushing themselves to the highest possible standard and want them to be in top, top form – and that would currently mean Europe for as many of my players as possible.

However, I detect a sea change occurring. As @jeffreycarlisle points out in his ESPNFC piece and in keeping with Klinsmann’s own belief that every player’s path is different, players are eventually going to see the merits of staying home.

To his credit, Klinsmann says:

“You have to look at every situation individually and help the player to determine what is best for himself. There are a lot of parts to the picture, things like the player’s ability, what his support structure is like, his past experiences, and his mentality and goals. Some kids would benefit from the environment in Europe, while others are best suited to continue their growth in MLS. There’s no one right answer that applies to all players, and each player’s circumstances change over time.”

It is hard to argue with that logic. Unfortunately for MLS owners that currently means that the best of the best players are angling to take what they’ve learned at MLS academies and try their luck at the next level.

But I’m with Carlisle when looking at the long-term:

“…the decision to head overseas remains complicated. There is a significant cultural — and in some cases linguistic — assimilation process that has to take place, hurdles are often avoided if a player decides to sign with an MLS club. There is also a widely held belief that academies are improving while the prospect of first team minutes is also greater at MLS clubs.”

I think playing time is a big factor. If you’re not playing in, or genuinely pushing for a first team spot in Europe, how much of a difference will the training there make versus the training in the MLS? I think the MLS needs to close that training gap and as is mentioned in the article sell its players – and even Klinsmann – on the quality of MLS training. It may not make up for competing daily against some of the best players in the world but if the training is top notch then perhaps it won’t add up for a player to go abroad.

And this where I think MLS should change tack and instead of investing millions in old stars from overseas (I do understand their marketing value though), they should be trying to buy the best coaches from abroad and fill their academies with them. That would be a great start and if the coaching was top notch, players and their handlers and their national team manager may not think the grass is so much greener overseas.

Increasing the quality of coaching in a broad, deep way – the way Spain did prior to their recent and lengthy period of International domination – would normalize the player development situation significantly. Then – once this normalization has occurred and players are optimally developed at home and prove themselves to be the stars of their own domestic league – players could start to contemplate that dream transfer abroad.

That way – the player gets something and MLS gets something – in a “normal” way. MLS hasn’t been shy to make money on player transfers and so I think that players should understand that the European dream does not die if they stay home. And eventually if enough of the best players stay home – and get the best coaching in the world – there will be such a critical mass of high performance that even the national team manager of the future will stop talking about going abroad and set his gaze upon his own horizon.

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What are they feeding kids these days? Or should we say how are they training them? Quality training like we see in this video is the type of food every aspiring player needs to grow up properly. And Dino Bontis is certainly growing up very nicely as a goalkeeper.

The kid moves like a pro already and if you know football you can see he’s got a future. Great attention to detail with footwork, hands, diving.

I really like the determination in the kid too. If he sticks with it from this early competency, Dino Bontis is going to be one heck of a keeper.

Keep it going Dino. And – don’t be afraid to dream.

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