Following Tottenham’s 1-0 victory over Southampton on Saturday, Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas awarded high praise to the Saints youth system, which produced, amongst others, Gareth Bale.
"It is a great school of development," stated Villas-Boas.
"Southampton falls into the same category as Sporting Lisbon, like Barcelona, which is to nurture."
Despite the defeat, Southampton can take consolation in their fantastic youth academy that has ‘nurtured’ Bale, Arsenal’s Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Swansea’s Nathan Dyer and current Saints’ captain Adam Lallana.
The problem of players defecting to other clubs is a matter for another article – Southampton have become accustomed to having their best assets cherry-picked by the top four.
"Sometimes there are clubs that keep developing and nurturing players, then there are clubs that go for scouting,” the Spurs boss continued.
"In Portugal, Sporting Lisbon is the development club and great players have come out of that school. They haven't produced the results in the first team as they wanted in the modern era. Porto invest in a later stage and don't develop the player."
The Portuguese coach who learned his managerial trade under Jose Mourinho before taking charge of Porto certainly knows better than I the inter-workings of the Portuguese development schools.
However, I have strong reason to believe Villas-Boas has similar designs for Tottenham, which he will, if given the chance, begin implementing at Spurs.
Spurs already have a very healthy youth development program, headed by John McDermott. However, should Villas-Boas be allowed to stay for the long term as I believe he will, there will likely be a number of personnel changes – I wouldn’t be surprised to see him adopt a similar ‘promote from within’ approach as their North London rivals Arsenal.
There are certainly plans for Tottenham to build a new stadium to accommodate their growing fanbase and to improve their financial returns in the long-term. They have fantastic training facilities already and they will find all of these aspects will enable them to attract the very best quality players and staff to the club.
Of Tottenham’s current first-team squad only Jake Livermore and Steven Caulker have been derived from the club’s youth system. Andros Townsend, on loan this term at QPR, along with Harry Kane on loan at Leicester City, Ryan Mason at Lorient, and Adam Smith at Milwall all represent the future of the club.
They are all involved in various capacities with England at youth level and will likely develop into senior first-team Tottenham players over the next five years.
Villas-Boas has the opportunity at Tottenham to create his utopian vision of football with the philosophy that Chelsea would have never granted him the time or opportunity to realize.
His high regard of Barcelona, Sporting Lisbon and, in England, Southampton hints at what this young man imagines can exist at Spurs. In this club he has the ideal conditions to realize his ambitions – both footballistically and philosophically – as the foundations are already in place to be built upon.
He is just 35 years of age right now but should he be granted a long-term stay at Spurs, he could very well be the architect of new superpower in English and European football to rival the domination of the likes of Manchester United where Sir Alex Ferguson began building his empire 27 years ago.
It takes time to build – Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say - but this young and idealistic practitioner has ample time to commit to the project, as long as Tottenham Hotspur commit to him.