Paul Hart was appointed as Leeds’ academy director on the advice of Adam Pearson, and he has told the Yorkshire Evening Post that Pearson and Massimo Cellino outlined the importance of the academy in the club in talks earlier this month.
Hart said: “From speaking to Mr Cellino, the impression I get is that the academy is an integral part of the club moving forward. To be honest, after speaking to Adam [Pearson] I wouldn’t have expected anything else. That was the message I got from him and we spoke at length about what was planned and what would happen. The owner believes in it and I certainly believe in developing young players.”
The policy of focusing upon youth is something which has defined Leeds for much of their history, but there has not been a truly great era of academy products since Hart was last at the club.
He was central to developing the core of the Whites side that built up in the late 1990’s, reaching their pinnacle in the early 2000’s, and Hart has returned to Elland Road hoping to have the same kind of impact.
The likes of Charlie Taylor, Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt are all first-team players now following their progression from the academy system, and Massimo Cellino and Pearson made it clear to Hart that using the academy is a key part of how the club want to move forward.
They are not able to financially compete with the best teams in the Championship, and any hope of winning promotion to the Premier League will come down to stability, good management and a core of homegrown players.
Of course, luck will also play a large part in the developing of young players, but with Hart in charge of the academy set-up, Leeds look well set to return to their former glories.