Norwich City's youth policy was given a boost on Friday (12 October 2012) with the news that they have been recommended for Category One status. I think it is fair to say that the quality of players coming through the youth team in recent years has been disappointing.
This is in contrast to the good old days of the '90s, when a number of Premier League talents came through the youth system. However, Norwich has now moved a step closer to being awarded the prestigious Category One status.
The club will receive the final decision sometime in November, and being awarded Category One status would be a huge benefit in the club's quest to recruit and develop the best young players. Having more time to work and train players would be an obvious advantage, but the major plus would be in geography.
The Canaries have been restricted by only being able to recruit players within a 90-minute radius in recent years. This has always been a rule that has struck me as being unfair, because it is clearly more restrictive to some clubs than it is to others. Category One status would mean the removal of this and the ability to recruit across the whole country.
For instance, take the example of the many London clubs. They have our capital to try and find their talent that includes many people and clubs. It is a similar situation in the north of the country, but it is well-known that Norfolk is in a location that is cut-off from most of the United Kingdom.
Therefore, recruiting players in recent years has been a challenging business. The players that have made the transition to the first-team have lacked the quality for the Premier League; for instance, Korey Smith, Tom Adeyemi, Chris Martin, and a few others.
The impression that I have of this situation is that the young players we have might hold their own in the Championship. Therefore, to an extent it is a by-product of the club's success in recent seasons. Nevertheless, we all want to progress as a Premier League club; that, of course, means being able to recruit players across the whole of the United Kingdom and the world.
Irrespective of the decision on the club's Category One application, it will take several years before we see any results of the hard work has been put in on the youth side. But it's not hard to see why the club are so keen to have the best youth setup they can.
The Canaries know that competing in the Premier League is a very difficult task. Therefore, investing in youth and finding bargain players is likely to be the way forward. It's disappointing that so few players have gone on to be regulars in the side in recent years. But that is all, hopefully, set to change in the years ahead.
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