Vorsprung durch technik: A German solution to the reserves?

Rafa’s argument:

Rafa has spoken out about re-organising the reserves. He said: “It is clear that the reserve system doesn’t work … youngsters playing just 18 games a season, that is nothing. Certainly not enough for the development of these players. I do not want to see reserve teams with four or five senior men playing without passion. These games are for young players.”

“Between 18 and 21 years old in this country, the players do not know what to do. If they are good enough at 18 they are with the first team but on the bench all the time. If you want to improve their level you must change the reserve league system.”

“The key is that the young players may have the quality but not the experience for the first team. They are only on the bench. That will bridge the gap between the youngsters and the first team. If you do not give young players the chance to play competitive football and to learn things, things become impossible.”

“We can go a month without a reserve match, it is crazy. You then play against teams full of senior players.

“How can you use a 17-year-old in the first team, unless he is a really top talent like Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney or Michael Owen? Players of that ability can play in the Premier League, but you have to be special to do that so young.

The arguement against:

The arguement against is that smaller clubs will have to move down a division to incorporate the reserve teams and that this isnt right or fair for the clubs and will cost them money.

Anyone crying foul and not wanting to play another team always sounds to me like someone is afraid to lose? Are the grown men at these clubs scared of playing 17 to 21 year old, albeit skillful, young men? Isnt footballmabout the best team winning? Should we let them play, and if they get relegated then they can play in a lower league?


1. Liverpool invent a new team called “Kop FC”. Sign on with the football league and play their youth in this team, but in the real league system. Trouble is, it will take about 15 years to progress through the league system to the championship level!

2. We take over a smaller team like Tranmere (or even buy one out) and rather than just use them as a place to send a few youngsters, we use our trainers their and field 90% our players. The progress through the league will be quicker, but maybe the locals wont like it. We could always try South Liverpool.

3. We carry on doing what Rafa is doing, which is to send them out on loan to lower league clubs. They get experience but the trouble is they dont get much practice together, and as we know from England, lack of time together doesnt help the performance of the best.

The German System:

4. We could adopt a similar system to the Germans. After the first and second division, the third league is regional, which means there are FOUR regional third divisions of equal value. In my reckoning that makes SIX top leagues, and we have only four at the moment ! The advantage of the regional system is:

1. You are only ONE step away from the Championship, although you may have been playing in divison three before, but there are less promotion places.

2. You save lots of money on travel by only visiting local teams and not having to travel from Exeter to Gateshead. And such distant away games have lower gates that local ones which makes you even more money.

3. The fact you have FOUR regional leagues and at the moment we only have div 2, div 3 and div 4, means we have enough space to incorperate 20 reserve teams ! This wouldnt disadvantage anyone, because they are not displacing anyone. The reserve teams wouldnt be able to get promoted any higher, but can get relegated.