Tottenham’s academy manager John McDermott was recently hunted by Manchester United and it’s no surprise given how many young players he’s guided through to the Spurs and England teams.
McDermott recently gave a talk at Pomona College in California. A member of COYS Reddit was in attendance and posted a brilliant oversight of the event that we recommend you to read in full, but here’s a breakdown of some of the most interesting points made by McDermott.
– He rates Mauricio Pochettino as the best manager he has worked with.
– Pochettino wants five things from a player. Technically good, tactically good, physically outstanding, mentally strong and to have faith in the plan.
– At 14 years of age, Harry Kane was overweight, young for his age group (August birthday), immature and was slower and less agile than his peers. Only intuition that he had ‘something’, kept him at the club.
– The same intuition was applied to small players such as Tom Carroll and Alex Pritchard, who are now playing in the Premier League.
– He doesn’t want the U18 squad to like him and frequently fell out with players such as Kane and Andros Townsend.
– A club in the Premier League is currently paying a nine-year old a salary of £24,000 a year.
– International recognition for youth players can stunt their development. Youngsters think they have already made it as a result of being called up by their country.
– Pochettino is a natural leader of people with the X-factor. Spurs would not be half as successful without him.
– Young players need to be taught to play through the pain barrier when not 100% fit.
– There’s too many courses and information for modern coaches. The more you study the blinder you get. Gave an example of Spurs’ physio team returning from a course and within two months the club was inundated with fat pad injuries.
– Doesn’t think signing players from abroad when very young is good for their development.
– Believes that young players from local area care more and less likely to give up. Gave the example of Townsend being released by the club, but refused to accept the decision and just turned up every day regardless.
– Thinks that Townsend is an orthodox winger and did not fit in to Pochettino’s tactical plans.
– The club adopts a ‘treat them mean, keep them keen’ policy. Pay young players less than other clubs and try to keep agents away.
– Academy players go on 30-35 international trips a year. Wants them to experience playing against international opposition, as there are so many foreign players in the Premier League.
– Biggest selling point to attract young players to the club is potential game time.
– Tim Sherwood was effectively bought to the club to act as a mediator between McDermott and Harry Redknapp, who he did not get on with.
– A 16-year old player at Spurs was offered £250,000 to join a northern Premier League club.
– Worries about the academy keeping pace with Pochettino and being able to continue to provide players for the first-team.
– Gave an anecdote about the youngster Shayon Harrison. Pochettino came over to McDermott and said ‘John, Shayon is lazy’ – deliberately loud enough for Harrison to overhear. Harrison came to McDermott and asked for an explanation. Was told that Pochettino had worked with Sergio Aguero, Diego Maradona and Juan Veron and has the highest standards. Harrison is not lazy, but compared to what Pochettino is used to, might seem mediocre.