TFI - Peter Suddaby
Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).
Impressive progression the FA Youth Cup, lads with England Under-16s and Under-17s this week, both Under-19s and Under-17s doing well in the FA Premier Academy League &mdash; you could say things are going well at youth-team level at Spurs.<P class=MsoNormal>So it was the perfect time for Paul Miles to ask Acedemy director Peter Suddaby: What do you think of it so far?<P class=MsoNormal><B>Things seem to be going very at the moment. What are your thoughts?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p></B><P class=MsoNormal>PS: &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been very pleased with the progress that we&rsquo;ve been making this year. We try to impress on them that results aren&rsquo;t that important but of course when you get a couple of wins under your belt that provides a confidence that doesn&rsquo;t come from anything else. To be fair, the whole of the academy is quite buoyant. The Under-17s have made a bright start and although in the FA Youth Cup we were quite disappointing in the first half, second half we picked up and played good football. We had a very young team and we&rsquo;ve calculated that of that side, eight can play next year.&rdquo;<P class=MsoNormal><B>I suggested to Under-19 manager Pat Holland at the time that the FA Youth Cup tends to grab the imagination.</B><P class=MsoNormal>PS: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s probably because it has been going for ages and it's like the youth equivalent of the FA Cup. The FA Cup, despite what people might be saying, still grabs the imagination, it gives the little clubs the chance to play the big clubs and for us it gives us the chance to play at White Hart Lane. It is something different, a knockout competition and that excites people.&rdquo;<P class=MsoNormal><B>The Under-17s in-particularly have had a lot of praise. David Pleat has said some very positive things about them. You must be pleased with that group.</B><P class=MsoNormal>PS: &ldquo;I think we have to be careful here. They&rsquo;ve done well. We did take a lot in so in fact this year the Under-17s team is mainly comprised of actual Under-17 players with just a few schoolboys. In the last two years that has not been the case and the Under-17s has been a very young team. It&rsquo;s difficult to judge. We quite like the progress they are making but I&rsquo;m not going to go to the top of a building to shout about it. They have a long way to go and all I would say is that they are going in the right direction.<P class=MsoNormal>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re pretty low-key about our youth system here, not like some clubs, and I think sometimes we should blow our trumpet more but our people are not really like that. We&rsquo;re quite pleased. We&rsquo;re not going to sit back and say everything is perfect but the Under-17s have made good progress, they&rsquo;ve a long way to go and I think next year will be a bigger test for them. This year they are playing against boys of their age and younger, next year they will play against lads of their own age or possibly older. The test then becomes a bit more severe. Full of praise with them at the moment though, they are great kids to have about the place and we have no problems with them. And I&rsquo;d like to think, from the day they first came here, they&rsquo;ve all improved.&rdquo;<P class=MsoNormal><B>Fans would just look at results and the perhaps the FA Youth Cup as well. What are the likes of yourself, Pat Holland and Jimmy Neighbour looking at?</B><P class=MsoNormal>PS: &ldquo;We have to keep reminding ourselves that results aren&rsquo;t it. I&rsquo;m not being funny but if the youth team won the FA Youth Cup and the first team were relegated &mdash; has that been a good season? The answer is no. We are in a completely different business than the first team. It is very unlikely that if we have a very good squad of 14 players that we would sign all 14 as professionals. When the player gets put up for a professional contract he is looked at individually. There is a difference between a good team and having players who are going to come through. If we are losing a game we are asking &lsquo;who is the best player as an individual on the pitch?&rsquo; and if we can say we&rsquo;ve the best two players on the pitch that is more satisfying for us. No-one is bothered now whether or not Ledley King played in a good Under-19 side. What mattered was if Ledley was good enough and he has been. Sometimes you can have a good team but when you pick players as individuals a lot of them fall short. But in a team they compliment each other.&rdquo;<P class=MsoNormal><B>Has it lifted the lads to see the likes of Alton Thelwell and Ledley King break into the Premiership this season?</B><P class=MsoNormal>PS: &ldquo;Of course. Ledley and Alton still change in the same block as the Academy lads because they are classed as young pros and it gives everyone a big lift. We needed one more to break through so those two doing so well lifts the place. It tells the kids that if they are good enough they can get in.&rdquo;<P class=MsoNormal><B>How is the Academy as a whole looking?<o:p></o:p></B><P class=MsoNormal>PS: &ldquo;It is quite difficult because if you can look at a boy at under-nine level and tell me they are going to make it then you can have a job straight away. The results, which aren&rsquo;t published, are okay and the performances are okay but those boys have a long way to go and we just hope that we can improve them from year to year. If we can, we then hope a couple of diamonds might come out of there. In general we are very pleased with the group that we&rsquo;ve got. Some age groups we&rsquo;re very pleased with and some age groups we feel we&rsquo;d like to strengthen. Overall we&rsquo;re very pleased.&rdquo;<P class=MsoNormal><B>You were a professional footballer yourself so how has the game changed at youth level?</B><P class=MsoNormal>PS: &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t sign as a professional until I was 21 so I missed out on the youth side of it. I don&rsquo;t think the academies are the perfect answer yet, I think it will take a long time, but at least people have sat down and said we can improve what we are doing. The academies being able to organise themselves is a big plus in that previously the boys were always at the behest of the first team, so if the first team played poorly on Saturday and had to come in on a Sunday then the youth boys would have to as well because they would have to do the kit, the equipment &mdash; that has been removed. We are able to plan a more progressive coaching schedule for them and we have set things we do each week and we know that isn&rsquo;t going to be interrupted by first team duties. Just the fact that academies have been set aside to do a planned schedule for the lads is a big plus.<P class=MsoNormal>&ldquo;In 10 years time I think we will look back at the academies and say it was a very good idea. Whether they will be exactly the same in 10 years time, remember they are very new and we&rsquo;re all making mistakes, trying to adjust things, 10 years down the line we&rsquo;ll be able to ask if they&rsquo;ve improved things. At the moment they are better places to work rather than the old set up.&rdquo;<P class=MsoNormal><B>How hard is it for you when it comes down to D-Day and you have to tell players whether or not they are going to be taken on or not?</B><P class=MsoNormal>PS: &ldquo;That&rsquo;s difficult. There is no easy way. I won&rsquo;t beat around the bush and say there is a nice way &mdash; there isn&rsquo;t. We just try to be completely honest with them and tell them why we think they&rsquo;ve not made the grade here but try to encourage them to look elsewhere. We try to help them in every way we can. Perhaps they can drop down a division, anything to keep them playing. In the time we have them we try to tell them from a very young age they are here to be coached and there are no guarantees at the end of it. Of course, once they&rsquo;ve been here for two or three years, they get a taste for it and you have to keep reminding the parents more than anyone that it&rsquo;s a free coaching experience and if they are not taken on they are not failures &mdash; they are still part of the elite. It&rsquo;s a horrible part of the job but we have to do it. We try and make the decision as early as possible now because we don&rsquo;t want to be accused of tagging people along. In any walk of life there is no easy way of telling someone that they haven&rsquo;t made it.&rdquo;<P class=MsoNormal><B>So to sum up &mdash; pleased with it so far.</B><P class=MsoNormal>PS: &ldquo;Yes. The Christmas break is upon us and let&rsquo;s just hope we can maintain it when we come back.&rdquo;<P class=MsoNormal>&nbsp;<o:p></o:p>