Stajcic’s brilliant take on A-Leagues ‘model’ every club is copying: ‘It has to work that way’

Perth Glory boss Alen Stajcic delivered a brilliant answer in his pre-match press conference ahead of a clash with Adelaide United on Sunday when asked about his club’s push towards utilising academy talent this season.

Glory sit 10th on the table with four matches to play, but a highlight of their season has been the emergence of young players like Joel Anasmo, Kaelan Majekodunmi and 17-year-old Daniel Bennie, who has played 21 matches this term after scoring against Premier League side West Ham in pre-season.

Asked by a reporter about the club’s concerted push in recent years to promote from within their academy, Stajcic spoke uninterrupted for two-and-a-half minutes.

He referenced this weekend’s opponents Adelaide and his former club Central Coast Mariners as he succinctly explained why A-Leagues sides are leaning more on their youth than ever and the ‘most important thing’ that is often overlooked.

“Yeah look it has to work that way,” Stajcic said in his pre-match press conference.

“There’s no other way; the way the A-League is going I think most clubs will be forced to do that. 

“So whether you’re forced to do it through circumstance, through budget, through an actual plan and program, it’s irrelevant. We’ve got to that point and other clubs have got to that point. 

“I know Adelaide have been doing it, whether it’s deliberate or whether it’s a part of forced upon them. You see how many kids have come out of Adelaide and just my own example is  that Mariners hadn’t done an overseas transfer in seven years when we first arrived.

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“Partly because they were on the bottom virtually the whole time and the quality of kids  coming through wasn’t good enough but in the space of two or three years a whole bunch of  people from Academy directors and obviously first team coaches and reserve coaches we  all had a little bit more deliberate attempt to put in key youngsters and try having a little bit  more of the Academy influence come throughout the team.

“You know they’ve gone from zero transfers to, I don’t even know what they’re up to now,  (it has) to be close to ten. If you think Sammy Silvera, the two Kuol brothers, Gianni Stensness, Kye Rowles, Lewis Miller, you know, Aiden O’Neill if you want to even go that far.

“The amount of players that have gone through that first team and now headed overseas  and possibly more now, you know, winning a Championship. And they’ve imported a lot of players in that time as well, especially last year and the year before.

“They’ve imported a lot, but a lot of those kids have got their game time through. So I think it’s, for them, it’s been a successful model, but it’s all happened fairly quickly as well. It hasn’t been a 10-year plan. It’s all been over two, three, four years and it’s all really changed.  

“So, you know, a lot of credit goes to all the people who have been there and put all those parts of that jigsaw puzzle together. You know from the CEO down to everyone in the football department.

“We’ve got that now but it takes time and it doesn’t take 10 seconds it might take two years, three years, four years, five years but eventually you can turn that momentum around and these kids actually start getting game time.

“But the most important thing is not game time, the most important thing is winning because I’m sure no one would want those Mariners players if they were playing but they were coming last so to be a good team and to be a winning team – hear the word competitive, I think we’ve been competitive this year.

“What, 19 of the 23 matches have been within a goal? And the other four have been two I think. We’ve had two wins by two goals and two losses by two goals, so being competitive is not enough to build a club and that’s for our own fans and to give all these kids a real platform for good careers in the A-League and beyond.”

Stajcic also mentioned that a youth coach at the club had made him aware that five starters from the Glory’s most recent XI against Sydney FC midweek had also featured in the club’s last NPL game of last season.

That is a clear sign that the kids are coming through.