Derby County manager Phillip Cocu has highlighted the importance of the Rams managing to align their academy behind the first team model for the club’s future success.
Cocu has started to implement his playing style onto the first team squad since arrving at the club to take over from Frank Lampard during the summer, and the Dutchman is slowly starting to build his possession based style with the players in a way which will allow them to pick up consistent results on the field.
The Dutchman has already shown his willingness to offer chances to Derby’s academy players, with the likes of Jason Knight, Lee Buchanan and Morgan Whittaker all being given first team minutes in the Championship by Cocu during the opening months of the campaign.
The Phillip Cocu quiz – How much do you know about the Derby manager?
Speaking to Derby’s official club website, Cocu suggested that the Rams need to ensure that their academy players are all familiar with the first team style, in order to ensure they are ready to make a real impact when called upon to the first team, saying: “We divide everything into different aspects and translate it throughout the Academy. In my experience, it is very helpful for young players to get used to this kind of aspects throughout all the years and finally up to the first team.
“The main goal is when they arrive in the first team, they only need to focus on their training or the game rather than new stuff like different exercises or the physical aspects they are not used to.
“It may be easier said than done because it is a very wide perspective in football, it is not only a training session and playing the game in the same style of football as the first team.”
Derby’s new strategy of focusing on the development of their youth prospects started last season under Lampard, and Cocu has arrived in the summer and continued that approach, with the Dutchman showing his willing to play the Rams’ promising young players if he feels they can make a positive impact on matches.
It is crucial that Derby allow Cocu time to build his philosophy through the club, with the Dutchman’s comments showing his real ambition to have a long-term future with the Rams and get their academy aligned to the first team, in terms of the way they train and play.
That will only help Derby’s young players when they come to break into the Rams’ first team, with the players already used to playing in the club’s style throughout their time in the academy, which means that Cocu can just work on developing their individual qualities rather than getting them used to his style of play.