Laying Out Academy Plans – The Talent Cycle

Clearly one of the most important tasks of a club and country game is to get an efficient and continuous stream of young players who can make their way into the national team, and  improve the quality of these players year on year. This post will be introducing and outlining my plans to make Hangzhou an excellent producer of Chinese talent.

The overall idea of the strategy is mostly based on Ajax’s academy structure, with the main goal being 3 youth team players making it into the first team every 2 years. Obviously it will be impossible to identically replicate De Toekmomst as you can’t have youth teams down to under 8 on FM (how cool would that be though?!).

The Cycle

I don’t think this is exactly how Ajax does it, but I will be operating on a two year cycle i.e. after 2 years I want 3 under 19’s to be first team players, and then 3 more by the end of the next 2 years. Obviously this is just a minimum, and hopefully more will make the step. The first cycle is starting in my current season (2015), with the first batch of youth intake.

Tier 1

How I am going to operate is at the beginning of the cycle I will highlight the 5 most promising players that I am hoping will join the first team. During the first year of the cycle I will be targeting 10 appearances in the first team for these 5 players. Then the second year this will be pushed up to a minimum of 15 appearances. By this time I am hoping at least 3 of the selected 5 will be settled into the first team. They will also be available for under 19 matches as to not stifle their development when not getting first team experience.

Alongside match experience there will obviously be training and tutoring, although my squad currently seem to be full on bitches when it comes to tutoring.

tier 2

Below the selected 5 players will be an unspecified amount of players who potentially could break into the first team, but currently I don’t see as having enough quality to get appearances in the first team currently. These players will be made available for the reserves, and may make the odd first team appearance if required.

Extra Info

Players will be selected by me and I will be looking at:

  • Coach reports
  • Personality
  • Key attributes i.e. technique, determination

Midway through the process I will assess both tiers of players and see if any changes will be made after looking at match performance, training performance and progress.


As I have mentioned in a previous post, the club with the best youth facilities in China is Shandong, but- as I also mentioned before- I decided to go for a club with lesser facilities so I wasn’t relying on one club to produce players.


I have already improved the youth facilities, and my current overall set up is probably in the top 3 in China for youth development. Obviously I will hope to continue improving this, although money is hardly flowing in Chinese football with most teams getting about 20% attendances (I’m currently at 19%).


This post was just to outline the structure and next will be introducing you to the players of each tier. As usual thanks for reading, and a special thanks to everyone on Twitter RTing my stuff. Blog had a massive peak on Thursday/Friday which is always nice.

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