Made in Charlton
It was great to see Ademola Lookman score for Everton yesterday. I was thrilled for the lovely young man. Every Addick can be rightly proud that he was ‘Made in Charlton’. It was equally as good to see Joe Gomez return from his long term injury for Liverpool last week in the FA Cup, and he too was on the bench yesterday at Old Trafford. It can be impossible to keep these players from moving to the next level, particularly when Charlton appears to be low on ambition, and the reality is that we have become a middling League One club.
I think under Robinson, if he is allowed a longer term to influence young prospects, we may see academy players stay to play closer to a century of games. Of course we know Katrien Meire’s view on moving our best young players on, and for Roland Duchatelet, it is just a way to make money for his network project.
There may have been more chatter on future training ground developments, this time from Robinson, but the facts are that Duchatelet has thus far committed very little money towards improving Sparrows Lane, and therefore the emergence of new talent.
I cannot see one iota of evidence that Duchatelet’s network has been a positive influence on Charlton’s academy. The magnificent Steve Avory plus Sergei Baltacha and Jason Euell were all there before the Belgian’s showed up, and they and their dedicated staff should take all of the credit for either making boys into talented professionals like Gomez, or polishing raw talent into sparkling prospects like Lookman.
Of course we have always sold our best young players when at some point we are unable to match their ambitions, their ability or the club needed the cash.
As a boy I was devastated when Derek Hales went to Derby, but we had seen the best of him. I was probably more upset that Paul Walsh went to Luton for £400,000, but he was ambitious, Luton were in the top tier and on the up, and as always we needed the money.
My gripe now, particularly the way the academy is help funded by Valley Gold, is that we never get to see these academy players develop in our first team. Even Walsh played 98 first team games. I doubt very much if Joe Aribo or Ezri Konsa will make anywhere near as many appearances than Walsh, or even Jordan Cousins or Morgan Fox.
Cousins and Fox never burst onto the scene like a Lookman did, they were slow burners but mutually club and player both benefited from the experience. Diego Poyet is the antithesis of a Cousins or Fox.
For interest I have listed some of the more high profile young players that have been sold on in my time as a Charlton fan with their first team appearances next to their name.
Interstingly the player who went on to have the most glittering career, also played the most games for us before he was sold.
R Elliot 96
P Elliott 63
Holmes Dennis 5