I spoke in Part Deux about a Philosophy which I want to implement at the club, focused around incisive play, good decisions and the ‘Five Pillars’ of Strength, Determination, Decisions, Composure and Technique. As part of this philosophy, I have had to take some time to decide how to implement that philosophy at Red Star, and how I am going to recruit and develop our players in a way which models the youth systems I spoke about in Part One.
The first point to note is that I’m not going to go into this with all guns blazing and immediately sell everybody who doesn’t match all five criteria that I spoke about in Part Deux. What I will do, however, is analyse the training and development of our existing squad over the first season, while giving each player an ‘average’ score across all five attributes. I’m acutely aware that for the first season or two it will be difficult to find players who tick all five boxes, so initially an average of 12 across all 5 attributes will be enough to sign an Under 23 player, while an average of 14 across the 5 will be good enough for a senior player.
For our first season, my main priority is bringing in a mix of experience and youth, and finding players with experience at the higher levels of the game who can bring an element of maturity and calmness to our play. I often find that when I focus on developing youth, I sign exclusively teenagers, who are fine when we’re winning, but it almost always means the team lack the experience to get the job done when our backs are against the wall. Obviously, these signings will have to meet the criteria of the club’s philosophy, and I’m hoping to be able to target players who are exemplary in those five aspects, so that I can move towards setting up mentoring groups for our youngsters in order to facilitate their development.
I think it is also important to talk a little bit about player recruitment, and how I intend to build the squad in keeping with the systems I spoke about in Part One at both Clairefontaine and AS Monaco. Naturally, this process starts in our youth system; developing our own players is going to be a critical part of the process, and as so much of our philosophy is mental, players coming through our youth intake will be given until their 21st birthday to hit an average of 12 across the 5 attributes. In terms of how I will look to develop our youngsters, each player will train in the role he will eventually take up in the squad, with individual focuses on areas of weakness within his game.
When I’m recruiting players, I’m mostly going to be dealing in free transfers and cheaper players, as the club is not in brilliant shape financially. I’m hoping to mimic Monaco’s policy of buying low and selling high, but on a more minuscule scale; in previous seasons Monaco have targeted youngsters who struggle for games with their current clubs, and moulded them into stars (see: Anthony Martial), and I’ll be looking to implement a similar policy. I will also be looking for an additional level here, by looking to more experienced players who have been either transfer listed or released by their club, looking to bring them in and use them to solidify the team’s mentality, and act as mentors for our younger players.
Overall, I’m aiming to build our squad from a mixture of youthful exuberance and under-appreciated experience from the bigger clubs. By mixing this recruitment policy with our club’s philosophy and a solid development plan (which I will talk about more in a later piece), the aim is to return Red Star to the highest level of French football while developing our own identity and reputation.
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