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Irvine Is A Convert

by Rob Urbani @efc_roburbani

Spain's footballing visionaries are preaching to the converted in the shape of Everton Academy manager Alan Irvine.
Vicente Del Bosque's team underlined their status as the greatest team in world football with their triumph at Euro 2012 earlier this month.
Their brand of scintilating passing football has won many disciples. But even before they emerged as the dominant force in the world game by winning three major trophies in four years, their approach to the development of young players was something Irvine agreed with.
And he believes it is healthy for the future of the game that Andres Iniesta and co have helped focus the eyes of football on the key priorities in player development.
He told evertontv: "As a developer of young players then the ideal person is a purist - the one who believes in playing out from the back, playing through midfield, players trying things, players playing with imagination, freedom and no fear. The fear comes from winning games and at Academy level we don't need to win games, we need to develop players."
Coaching the right principles will turn promising young players into the champions of the future. 
And, for Irvine, seeing a Spanish side overflowing with talent rather than physical presence is particularly satisfying.
He continues: "It should always be down to ability and I'm absolutely delighted that a number of the best players in the world are small because maybe 10 years ago everybody looked at the perfect midfield player as being Patrick Vieria. 
“Of course, he was an exceptional player but, sadly, that meant everybody became obsessed with 6ft 3in central midfield players but you can be all different shapes and sizes and be an exceptional player. 
“These Barcelona players, these Spanish players, are showing it's not about size - it's about technical ability, it's about tactical understanding, it's about intelligence, it's about what you do with the ball."
As Everton's Academy manager, Irvine's challenge is to try and help develop players capable of emulating the success of Spain's youngsters and, crucially, out-performing their Iberian counterparts.
He explains: "It's something that we're all trying to emulate and clearly we would all love to be as good as Spain, we'd all love to be as good as Barcelona. 
“But what we've actually got to look at in terms of the development of young players is what are they going to be like in 10 years and what have we actually got to do to try and catch them up.
"If we try and set our targets at where they are now then they'll always be improving and they'll continue to move ahead of us. We need to try to forecast what they'll look like in 10 years time and see if we can develop players who can cope with that."Six of Everton's pre-season fixtures will be available to watch exclusively live on evertontv. Click here for details.

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