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Why local lads lighting up football derbies are a thing of the past

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Football fans were treated to a feast of football on Sunday afternoon. Eyes were immediately drawn to the two derbies; the Wear-Tyne derby between Sunderland and Newcastle and the Manchester derby as United hosted City. For all four teams involved, these two fixtures would have been the one that players’ and fans’ eyes were immediately drawn to when the fixture list was released. Derbies are one of the pinnacles of any season for a supporter and a win makes it even sweeter. The one thing missing from these two matches, besides goals in the Manchester derby, was a lack of local talent and academy graduates.

Out of the 56 players that featured in the two derbies, only four were local to their respective areas or came through the club’s academy. Just two of them started with the other two coming off the bench. For this to happen in what a many people claim to be ‘the best league in the world’ is ridiculous. These two fixtures were huge, not just at each end of the table, but they were and are huge for the identity and history of each club and their supporters.

Fans live for derbies. On paper they may not be the biggest matches but in terms of local pride, bragging rights and emotion they definitely are the biggest matches. They unite thousands upon thousands of different people who possess a shared love for their team and a shared hatred of the opposition. They provide emotion of the highest levels with fans behind every pass and feeling every crunching tackle. The only way that the emotion can be taken to a whole new level is with more and more local talent and academy graduates getting the opportunity to get greater first time opportunities.

Every fan loves seeing an academy graduate come through the ranks. At the beginning of this season, West Ham’s Reece Oxford made the leap into Premier League with ease and was heavily praised throughout the footballing world for his composure and quality.

Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb and Harry Kane have all come through the Spurs academy and have become regulars and developed under Mauricio Pochettino.

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On top of that, Southampton have their famed academy with James Ward-Prowse featuring heavily for the Saints at the start of this season. There’s an extra buzz around the ground and amongst supporters when they see an academy graduate on the pitch and doing well. As well as their youth and exuberance, these young players bring a hunger and passion for their side that only supporters of the club can relate to. Those young players that have been brought up in that club have that fierce rivalry instilled into their personal make-up.

Despite coming through the Sunderland academy, Jack Colback started for Newcastle in the Wear-Tyne derby on Sunday. There was an extra spring in his step and a level of hunger for the ball that others just couldn’t match. Not only is that because Colback is an energetic player, but it is because he’s a Geordie. He knows what it means to be a Geordie and what the match means to the Newcastle supporters.

We’re all well aware that our beautiful game is a global phenomenon and its global outreach is increasing each and every day. But as football keeps stepping up onto the global stage, it is being taken away from the local areas that hold it so close. It’s just another example of the biggest games for real fans being taken further away from them.

This weekend saw us excited for and eventually let down by a stalemate in what was dubbed as the most expensive Manchester derby in history. The two line-ups and benches were scattered with humongous price tags with the total value around £550m. Let’s not forget that the two sides and that enormous total were without the expensive quartet of Luke Shaw, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri.

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The only two academy products to feature in the 170th Manchester Derby were Jesse Lingard and Kelechi Iheanacho who both made cameos off their respective benches. These are two clubs that are global superpowers in terms of wealth, facilities and a global fan base. These juggernauts of world football have the facilities and finances to produce spectacular talent but still seem reluctant to introduce youth into their teams. There has been an improvement as of late and obviously, it’s harder to introduce youth into a side when you’re a side at the highest level. However, teams at the top across Europe’s other big leagues still seem to be able to do it better than our clubs.

This Sunday, we felt lucky to have a huge triple helping of Premier League action on our TV’s. Admittedly, on paper they seemed a lot better than what they turned out to be. However, whilst we get engrossed in the aftermath of discussing whether Fabricio Coloccini’s challenge warranted a penalty let alone a red card, discuss the disappointment of a bore draw Mancunian derby and got caught up in Klopp-mania, there are hidden issues that need serious addressing. The two derbies further emphasised the need for change in terms of homegrown talent coming through club’s academies. This isn’t just the responsibility of the FA to implement laws and regulations. This is the responsibility of each and every club to do their bit for the good of our game. As the eyes of the footballing world descended onto the spectacular lineup of games on Sunday, it’s hard not to be drawn to the cracks within our game.

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Dan is a Journalism student at UWE and is an aspiring football journalist. His first ever football match was Southampton's 3-2 win over Leeds in 2003 and he has been a Saints fan ever since.

West Ham United

What’s next for Jordan Hugill after becoming a West Ham outcast?

The former Preston striker has had a difficult time since his January move.

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When Jordan Hugill signed for West Ham United on January 31, many in east London had high hopes for the former Preston North End striker.

However, nearly three months later, the 25-year-old striker has played a grand total of 22 minutes for the Hammers and registered no goals.

The West Ham outcast must now look for a move back to the Championship to end his Premier League exile.

Hugill earned his big move to the top flight after an impressive first half of the 2017/18 season that saw him score ten times for the Lilywhites. The forward was coming off a productive 2016/17 season when he bagged 12 goals and was Preston’s top scorer.

(Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

But his time at the London Stadium has been a deeply disappointing one. Hugill has played on a paltry three occasions for the Hammers: ten minutes against Brighton, two minutes against Watford, and ten minutes against Southampton.

The English striker was always going to find things difficult making the step up to the Premier League, but few expected him to struggle this much. It is telling that even when main striker Andy Carroll was out injured, Hugill was not granted a larger role in the first team.

With the season winding down, the ex-Preston man must be desperately searching for an escape from his West Ham nightmare.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Starved of playing time and vital confidence, Hugill would do well to seek a return to the Championship. With his physical style of play and target man attributes, the forward would slot in seamlessly in many a Championship squad.

One team that has been linked with the West Ham man is Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough; a club that would be a perfect setting for Hugill. Pulis cherishes hefty strikers that can bully defenders and lead the line like Hugill can, and would certainly grant him significant time on the pitch.

After his failed Premier League step-up, Jordan Hugill would do well to save his career and make the switch to the Riverside to link up with Tony Pulis.

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English Premier League

If Everton are serious about top four challenge they must battle rivals for Clement Lenglet

The Frenchman has been sublime for Sevilla this season and Everton need a new central defender.

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After a summer of investment Everton‘s aim for this season was to challenge for the top four. It was a bold and ambitious plan which failed miserably.

They spent much of the first half of the campaign in the relegation reckoning, sacked their manager and have now limped their way to the top-half playing a dreadful brand of football under the guidance of Sam Allardyce.

It is fair to say, Everton fans are not happy.

Next season, the challenge again will be to try and compete with the Premier League’s elite.

But if Everton are going to do that, they need to improve one area of their team drastically – the defence.

Ashley Williams has been woeful this season and Everton fans would happily see the back of him.

Phil Jagielka does his best, but age is starting to get the better of him. Michael Keane took a while to settle following his move from Burnley.

Meanwhile, Ramiro Funes Mori has been injured most of the campaign and Mason Holgate has had an inconsistent season.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

A new centre-back is a must and, if Everton are serious about challenging for Europe, it needs to be a top defender.

Plenty are about at the moment, but the one which springs to mind for Everton is Sevilla star Clement Llenglet.

He caught the eye of English football fans after shackling Romelu Lukaku at Old Trafford in the Champions League.

The Frenchman has been in fine form for the club this season and now Lenglet is being linked with a host of clubs.

One such team is Liverpool, and with good reason. Lenglet has a release clause in his contract at Sevilla which stands at just €30 million (£26.25 million) – according to Marca.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

Considering the price paid for the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Aymeric Alporte and John Stones after the past year that fee is an absolute bargain.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is expected to dig deep into his pockets again this summer as Everton look to mount a renewed campaign next season.

Beating the likes of Liverpool to Lenglet’s signature would be the biggest signal of intent yet that Everton are ready to push into the Premier League elite.

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English Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur should give Reo Griffiths first-team chance after 9-0 heroics

The teenager scored four and assisted three as Tottenham Hotspur’s under-18s routed Arsenal.

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Tottenham Hotspur have plenty of young talent coming through at the moment and never has that been made more evident than in the under-18s result this afternoon. Tottenham dealt their North London rivals Arsenal a serious thrashing, winning 9-0.

It was a massive win for Spurs’ talented youngsters, albeit against a much changed and much younger Arsenal side.

But any North London derby win of this magnitude was going to have Spurs fans excited and rightly so. One player, in particular, was the talk of social media for Tottenham fans after the game. Reo Griffiths put in a fantastic performance for Spurs. He netted four goals and also grabbed three assists. That means the youngster only failed to play a direct hand in two of Tottenham’s nine goals.

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The 17-year-old forward has long been tipped as a future star for the Tottenham first-team and his four-goal salvo this afternoon took his tally for the season to 23 goals in 18 games in the under-18 Premier League.

His excellent form has not gone unnoticed and fans on Twitter were ecstatic with his display. In fact, some are even calling on Tottenham to give him a place in the first-team for the end of the season:

So should they?

It is hard to see why not. Harry Kane is, of course, the undisputed starter for Spurs – even when clearly not at full fitness. But second choice Fernando Llorente is widely expected to leave the club this summer after failing to find his feet in North London. Whilst Kazaiah Sterling is a strong option as another youngster, Tottenham fans would like to see Mauricio Pochettino give the 17-year-old a chance instead.

Griffiths is clearly a top talent of whom Tottenham will have high hopes. With just four games of the season left and Spurs looking strong in a top-four spot, it would be no skin off Pochettino’s back to see what the young lad can do.

Griffiths certainly looked like the real deal this afternoon and Tottenham should definitely consider giving him a chance in the first-team before the end of the season.

He can do no worse than Llorente and it could be the dawn of a fantastic career in North London for the teenager.

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