City boss reiterates commitment to policy of youth development
12 months ago, young professionals Jordan Moore-Taylor and Tom Nichols had shared just 28 games between them since graduating into the first-team, and the duo of Christy Pym and Matt Grimes were just preparing themselves for their maiden campaign with the first-team.
It has been quite a season for that young quartet in particular. That foursome comprises a goalkeeper, a centre-half, a central midfielder and a centre-forward: all products of the club’s youth system.
And between them they have racked up 104 first-team appearances over the course of the 2013/14 campaign, not including their starring roles in a fascinating Under-21 Premier League Cup run.
It is no secret that Exeter City don’t have the buying power of some of the clubs in League 2, but Grecians manager Paul Tisdale is right behind the club’s concept of nurturing young talent and allowing Academy graduates to achieve their potential.
“Our ‘new’ players this season have been Matt Grimes, Jordan Moore-Taylor and Tom Nichols – those three have established themselves,” he explained.
“We have to view those as our new players, and I think we have to come to terms with the fact that that’s the way the club is going. Ever since I’ve joined the club, that has been the wish of the club – to develop our own players. Therefore it has to be accepted that that is the ideal way to do it.
“This time last year, Grimes, Nichols and Moore-Taylor weren’t first-team players – they were potential players. Now they have had upwards of 100 games between them this year, they have proven they are good enough and that they are performers who can help to win games at League 2 level.
“They are the perfect ‘new’ signings because they are players that we know are capable and they are our own players. We have to get into the habit of viewing those players as our new players in our first-team squad.”
The likelihood of any wholesale changes at the Park or the chance to refresh the squad with multiple new signings is rather slim, with financial limitations on the club being no great secret.
While that means City won’t be able to offer much in the way of instant gratification with impact signings, Paul is certainly excited by the prospect of seeing the homegrown prospects continuing to blossom next year.
“It is subjective whether you find [bringing through young players] exciting or not – for me it certainly is, as I’m in every day and I’m thinking about it,” Paul continued. “And I think in terms of continuity and knowing what you’re going to get, it’s the most sensible way of doing it.
“I know when it comes to the impact of making a signing and the drama of seeing what they will bring to the team, then that has an instant appeal.
“But we are promoting ourselves a sensible and practical club that wants to develop our own players. I’d like to think that we’re all behind it, and that people want to see that type of thing.”
“That’s remarkable really – it shows what this club is like and how Matt Grimes has been appreciated, and secondly how it’s possible,” Paul continued.
“He started the year as a first-team professional – he would have been glad to make five appearances in the first team, let alone be named the Player of the Year.
“Matt has had the opportunity under pressure and the club has selected him under pressure this year. We’ve supported him, and he has had the ability to go and perform at that level. That’s exciting.”