Just in

The Tanner Report- gilded youth

When Mohammed al Fayed appointed Alistair Mackintosh as CEO one of the latter’s main briefs was to develop the Academy. The priority reflects the nous and vision of our Chairman. At the time Academies were moving out of fashion. The modern manager tends to stay for 2 years so he is not that interested in a brilliant 15 year old as by the time he is in the frame for first team selection the manager will not be there. However the way football was going in the mid-noughties with Roman Abramovich taking over Chelsea and foreign takeovers of Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool ,a fruitful youth policy was just about the only way that a mid-table Premier side can survive let alone compete. Fulham recruited Huw Jennings and Malcolm Elias from Southampton who produced the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxtade Chamberlain.

A couple of seasons ago Fulham reached the final of the FA Youth Cup. Sadly relegation and poor managerial appointments throttled the supply line. One of our best products Lasse Christensen has just joined Burton on loan with another youngster Caukey Woodrow. However in the last 2 years we have produced 3 jewels: Patrick Roberts, Moussa Dembele and Ryan Sessegnon. Patrick Roberts barely got an outing for Fulham, he has twinkling feet and crucially youth and went to Manchester City for £8m. With little game opportunity he was loaned out to Celtic. Moussa Dembele, acquired from the PSG Academy, did establish himself in the first team and had a prolific scoring partnership last season with Ross MacCormack. He or more likely his agent was cute, running down his contract and I heard Fulham only got £500,000 on his sale to Celtic. He scored for fun there and is strongly linked to Chelsea in a £40m transfer. Now we have the latest, 16 year old Ryan Sessegnon who has already scored twice though not a regular. All the big boys are interested. I hear that having been at Fulham since he was 7 he has some loyalty to the club as opposed to himself so he does want Fulham to profit on any sale. Sadly teammate Stefan Johansen is talking up a sale -as did Ross MacCormack with Dembele when it’s really none of their business in every sense.

HaynesEven more sadly the days of Johnny Haynes will never return. He was the outstanding schoolboy of his generation signed for Fulham in 1952 and played 653 games for his one and only club.

In the fifties he was an England regular though Fulham was in the second tier. I cleaned Johnny’s windows in Epsom and he often said he was well looked after and even after the minimum wage was removed by his teammate and friend Jimmy Hill he had no wish to move. Aah, those were the days.

About Alan Tanner

After a distinguished military service in the Catering Corps, Alan Tanner did well in mufti with his chamois as a window cleaner. Sadly he had to retire after falling from the fifth floor of Danny Murphy's mock Tudor home. He spends his retirement watching and writing about his beloved Fulham whom he has supported for over 50 years. The Alan Tanner Report is sponsored by Tanner Crystal Clear Ltd, Window Cleaners to the Gentry. More Posts