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I have a few questions

  1. How many players do you typically aim for in your U23s and U18s? And if you have too many, how do you decide which players to release / promote etc? (seeing as I haven't yet found a squad depth chart for the U23s)
  2. At what ages / abilities do you think about loaning a player out?
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1. I want my U-23's to be able to field a full team without calling on anyone from the U-18's ideally - I want those guys training as much as possible as thats where the biggest gains are. I use the younger players who are on the fringes of my first team in the main squad but set to play for the U-23's alongside anyone who need match fitness. My U-18's, the ideal for me is 2 players for every position, allowing rest and rotation and covering injuries or the occasional U-23 call up. Once past my first youth intake I will go and actively sign players to play backup in my U-18's, even if I know they wont make it anywhere near my first team. U-18's training time is the most important time of thier life as a footballer and where you can see some absolutely huge gains when combined with age appropriate football.

Long story short - U-18's I aim for 25-30 players to manage game time, U-23's 15-18 playing development football depending on what the first team is doing.

2. Players leave my U-18's when they are no longer allowed to play for the side, maximising the time they spend training. I will generally only send a player out on loan once they hit the age of 19, so normally they do 1 full season in the U-23's before I would consider sending them out. This gives me time to make sure that I have moulded their personality and traits to an extent before I run a quick flow chart. If they are the right age and are on the fringes of my first team I will move them up a squad and set them to play in the U-23's, giving them minutes where possible. If they are first team ready then it is right in at the deep end. If not on the fringes, do they have the right personality and traits? If yes then they are going to be available for a loan to a suitable side. If no, another season in the U-23's to work on that side of life before going back to the flow chart.

When I am playing as a top side (United, Benfica, Ajax etc) I have no dramas with keeping my U-23's stocked with players who I know will not make the grade but who are there to keep the U-18's playing at the right level. I would much rather the next Mason Greenwood was getting time in the youth set up where he can max his abilities than playing football every 2 days for both the U-18's and U-23's and ending up shattered with no real stat development. I will also pick the loan that is most suitable for a player, even if it is not the most financially viable deal - if I can afford it. Playing for a high flying side as a key player is much better than being a key player for a team scrapping at the bottom of the league, no matter the level.

Releasing players is never going to be easy, it takes some planning to ensure you get it right. But if you have 10-12 players making the step up to your U-23's every year you can cherry pick the best players to keep and ensure that you start having success at all levels. I normally find it takes 4-5 seasons to really crank up the system to churn out players that you either sell or move to the first team, which can effectively make you self sufficient if done properly.



Edited by Garrlor
Wonky paragraphs
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U23s imo heavily depend on what kind of a set up your club has.

For example, the English U23s play in a reserve competition that's a non competitive league and the match experience from that is pretty irrelevant. If you have a player that already has developed to a decent level playing in the U23s will not do much for him. On the other hand, German or Spain secondary clubs play lower down the league (if you have enough leagues loaded) and while the leagues obviously aren't the highest quality, they are proper leagues and thus have a much higher "match experience" rating than reserve competitions and as they can move between the leagues to a certain degree, ensuring good performances is something to keep an eye on.

Generally I don't care about my U23s at all though, as they're pretty irrelevant in a lot of cases. The one case where I might worry a bit is if I'm playing in the Bundesliga with a second team in the 3rd division, as there's a risk it could drop down and vanish unless I play with an altered DB that has lower German levels unlocked.

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Ive always heard that gametime is crucial from 18y on. So at that stage you're better to loan them out, if they get proposed playtime (regular starter or better).

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1. I've been caught out a few times with over-populating the U18's. So I tend to be around 16-19 players if i can. The reason for this, with the smaller squad, players all got the game time which helped them devlop. Overloaded led to many players not having the same development. This was over 2 versions, 7 saves with the same training schedules.

U23's - I promted based on ability perviously, but now I do this on atributes, if they ahve developed to the required level, they go up. this is based on a Defender, but once they are at Heading\Tackling\Marking\Positioning, etc all as a set rating, they go up. Most times this is at late age 17.

U23's part 2. If my scouts say they are above league 1. I look to loan, as i noticed development stalls.

U23's part 3. About 12-15 players here. To cover positions and not have players play in far from ideal positions.

2. Loans normally at 18. Unless the player is rated higher at 17. The other part wil be finacial - the players i won't use but will generate income post loan will get sent out.

I do have 2 exceptions this year - 2 17 year olds that are out on loan, as they are not even close, and game time would\has\is developing them much better.

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