Followers of the show and this site may recall that we have run two stories referring to the fact that all of the A league coaches wanted to expand the bench, allowing them to have more players available. The idea being that they could put younger players on the bench and if they were on top give them a chance at the top level to see if they were up to it. Currently most coaches go for reliable players on the bench that give them cover in defence, midfield and up front.
The coaches voted unanimously on this issue at the start of the season, but we believe that it has been rejected, or not implemented due to the cost.
This season has seen the National Youth League fixtures in many cases not correspond with the first team. By that we mean that the two teams are on occasions playing different opposition on the same weekend. A case in point being in January Perth Glory Youth are playing the Central Coast Mariners away on the same day the senior team are playing Sydney at home.
We would like to suggest that next season the Youth League fixtures and the A League fixtures be co-ordinated so that both teams have their squads in the same city on the same weekend. The games however should be staggered.
The bench should then be expanded to allow five outfield players and a reserve goalkeeper, two of these players to be either from the youth league squad or under 21 years of age. This would then enable the coaches to have a couple of the youth team players on the bench for the senior game, and the cost will be minimal to the clubs as these players will already be in that city. The only real cost will be an extra night’s accommodation, which should be easy to arrange if they are made to share with a first team player.
This has to be something that is given serious consideration, and would appease the coaching staff and at the same time shows that we are serious about bringing through the young talent in Australia.
The only flaw is that Wellington Phoenix, Melbourne Heart and North Queensland Fury do not have Youth teams, so there will be additional costs to them. However the saving they have by not having a youth team should be compensation enough.