Albion's pathway development manager David Weir is pleased overall with the start Albion's out loan players have made to the season.
The former Everton, Rangers and Scotland defender oversees all loans, keeping a close eye on the progress of Albion’s youngsters making a name for themselves away from the club.
David, how has the season shaped up so far for the players out on loan?
It’s been mixed as it always is. It can take players integrating into new clubs a little while to settle, particularly the lads who are on their first loans. Then you’ve players that are going to different countries and different environments, sometimes that takes a little time. Everyone has had a bit of time at their clubs now and got to know them, while the clubs have also got to know them. Things tend to look and feel more positive once there’s been that integration.
We always look at the bigger picture and how the loans look after a period of time. We support them through the process and we will have a closer look at how they’re getting on in January, and again at the end of the season. We’re happy with how it’s going, we believe we’ve pitched the players at the right level. There’s still work to be done obviously, but overall we’ve had a good start to the season.
What sort of experience will those players out on loan for the first time be having?
The first loan is very different. Teddy Jenks for example has had that change of country and environment. Aberdeen is a long way away from home and it’s the first time he has moved away from home. There’s a lot to adjust to within that, Teddy started very well, he was in the team and had a positive impact, then he got sent off and he’s been out of the team, so there’s been ups and downs, but that’s a big part of going out on loan – you’re learning. It’s a good experience for Teddy and he will be a better player for Brighton because of it.
For those who might not be getting the minutes they want, that’s still a lesson in itself isn’t it?
Playing is the most important part, but it’s not all of it. The players have got to be challenged, if they’re playing every minute of every game they’re probably at a club where they’re not at the right level, whereas if they’re at a club where they’re not playing every minute, they’ve got to be pushed, they’ve got to learn, that’s probably the right level. We don’t want it to be where they’re not playing at all, but it’s about getting that balance where they’ve got to work hard and adapt to get into the team. It’s about development on and off the field, it’s about growing up, being away from home and working with different coaches, about becoming better people as well as players.
Do you think all the players at Albion heading out on loan understand that it’s a part of their progression?
It's a part of our model, as a club we’ve got a first team that’s getting stronger. We’re in the top ten of the Premier League and that’s where we want to be consistently. The academy is getting stronger as well. The players coming through know that it’s difficult to go straight from the academy and under-23s into the first team and I am not sure anyone has done that recently because it is a jump – there usually has to be a step in-between. We’re fortunate at our club that the manager will give young players a chance. Ben [White], Robert [Sanchez]. Steven [Alzate] and Aaron [Connolly], they’ve all been in the loan programme alongside some others, that gives the lads who are heading out on loan the incentive that there’s the real possibility that could be them next, there’s a pathway for them from the academy to the first team. Every path is different and each player is judged on their individual merits, that’s what we will continue do.
It certainly feels like Albion have got a pathway plotted for those who are spending the season away from the club?
How it’s perceived by the outside is irrelevant, it’s how the player views the opportunity. Most players view it at this club as a chance to get on the pitch on a Saturday afternoon, to go and make a name for themselves. We try and pitch that to them – we’ve got great staff here who pre-empt the loan, so we have an idea of what we expect from a loan and to help the player while they’re there. It’s not a case of out of sight, out of mind, they’re actually still in touch with the club, they’re aware of what’s going on and what the plan is for them. Communication is key to that and making sure they understand it’s a process, they know where the start is and they know what the end can look like. The in-between is down to them.