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Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The emergence of the young brigade


The mixture of youth, development and success are a difficult combination to balance but Chesterfield are a working model demonstrating that it is possible to work in the long term. Manager Glory Days has a reputation of blooding youngsters and a key to maintaining a financially strong club is to develop of youth who will one day play in the first team with such luminaries as Denys Garmash, Marcos Rojo and Adam Lallana.  

As one of the smaller clubs in English football, Chesterfield need to find innovative ways of being cost effective, one method is to develop youth and sell them at a premium, a clear exponent of this philosophy is midfielder Felix Kroos who was purchased for $1.4 million and sold at $5 million.  

Often managers are reluctant to give younger and less proven players an opportunity to play however manager Glory Days has persistence with his philosophy that young player will be given a chance to shine at Chesterfield. Although there are famous youth academies such as Barcelona’s La Masia and Borussia Dortmund’s youth program, Chesterfield has developed a youth policy on a much smaller scale. Here are some young prospects that may emerge in the near future.

Hiroki Sakai

Hiroki SAKAI Photo
After starting on the bench, Sakai  has made impressions on starting line up 

With the likes of Yuto Nagatomo, Atsuto Uchida, Gotoku Sakai, Hiroki Sakai is another exponent of a great production line of flying Japanese fullbacks. Armed with good positioning, pace and an excellent work rate, Sakai is ideally suited for Glory Day’s system with quick moving wingbacks and a solid defensive mentality.

Like most Glory Days signings, Sakai is very versatile with his primary position being right fullback; he is fully capable of playing as a right wing back and on right wing. Since moving to Chesterfield for $5.5 million from Barnsley, Sakai has made a positive impact to his playing time, initially starting as a bench option, his solid production and impressive development, eventually allowed the 23 year old to cement a starting spot at right back in front of American Fabian Johnson.

Alfred Duncan

Alfred DUNCAN Photo
The Forgotten Man is making waves with his performances

A quintessential signature of Manager Glory Day sides is their depth of squad. It wouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that a number of arrivals came in the opposite direction when former midfield General Nemanja Matic departed for Walsall.  Most of the media attention focused on the English pair Leon Britton and Adam Lallana. Midfielder Britton was seen as the all-important replacement for Matic in the midfield anchor role while Lallana would provide more creativity and width on the flanks however the move of young Ghanian midfielder Alfred Duncan was often overlooked.

Purchased for a mere $1.9 million from Walsall, Duncan was seen as a makeshift weight to complete the Matic deal however to the keen observer there was much more than meets the eye. Dubbed as the next big thing from Ghana, Duncan is very comfortable with the ball at his feet and his strength makes him difficult to bring down. Playing predominately playing in the centre of midfield, Duncan has a powerful left foot which allows him to fire in long range missiles at goal.

Although he has had limited opportunities at Chesterfield, he made his mark with an outstanding performance resulting in a brace in the Spireites English Shield loss against Division One Carlisle United and didn’t look out of place with the likes of Camacho and Szalai.

Duncan has impressed with his 15 career appearances at Chesterfield but regularly has shown his reliability by coming on in the final 15 minutes of matches to become a ‘closer’ for Chesterfield. 

Kevin Vogt

Kevin VOGT Photo
Kevin Vogt is making the most of his limited opportunities in different positions

Another pillar of a Glory Days side is his pragmatism and the concept of the ‘adaptable player’. An adaptable player is a player that is capable of playing multiple positions and the arrival of German utility player Kevin Vogt is a perfect example this.

A VFL Bochum youth product caught the eye of manager Glory Days with his solid performances for his former club, Augsburg. Vogt, 22 arrived from German side Augsburg for $3 million amidst Chesterfield’s successful promotion into Division Three beating out the likes of Division one Exeter City for his signature. Something else that impressed Glory Days was Vogt’s ability to play multiple positions. Although he came into the club as an auxiliary right back; he has become at different times of the season, a ‘Mr. Fixit’ playing in central defence, central midfield and defensive midfield.

Considered initially as a sporadic player however with the departure of Vladimir Granat back to Russia, it may present more opportunities for Vogt to play and with  solid performances like the ones he has exhibited early this season which saw him preferred over the more experienced Korean Koo Ja Cheol.


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