Monday, 30 July 2012

Is Lombardo the right man for the EDS?

For those that like to follow the reserve and academy set up at City, you'll probably be aware that Andy Welsh is no longer in charge of the EDS set up. The news was greeted with approval, even from a player who has recently left the club, such was the standard of coaching during Welsh's tenure at the club.

Although the confirmation of a permanent post hasn't come from the club, Attilio Lombardo has taken over the reins in the EDS. This hasn't been met with jubilant approval but more of a cautious anticipation at best from the majority of City fans I've spoken with about it.

But what could the appointment of Lombardo to head of the EDS mean for City?

Well, I think it's widely agreed that the standard level of coaching will have improved, but judging from the things I've heard in the last few weeks I don't think it could have got much lower. Lombardo does have experience in coaching young players too, as he spent 4 years at the end of his playing career as a youth coach at Sampdoria.

His official coaching credentials have been questioned, and I'll admit, I have no idea what, if any, coaching badges he has. But as we know, qualifications aren't everything and they don't always make you better at the job. If you're a bad coach, you're a bad coach regardless of how many coaching badges you've taken.

What does concern some is that he doesn't have tried and tested pedigree of strong player development like some ex-coaches at City have had, namely Jim Cassell and Steve Eyre.

The connection Attilio has to Sampdoria also has other positive implications. Lombardo played alongside Mancini for 6 years at La Samp and once again for a brief period at Lazio. He again joined up with Mancini in 2010, this time as part of the coaching staff at City.

What I'm saying is that the two men are close friends and know each other very well. Mancini is known to be a relatively closed book when it comes to players and staff alike if they're not perceived to be pulling in Mancini's very specific direction.

What I think we will see is a greater flow of information and collaboration between the EDS and first team, one which wasn't there before. Although Andy Welsh could often be seen on match days but at no point did it look like their was any sort of relationship between him and Mancini. With Lombardo however, we know there is a personal friendship and trust there.

Although Mancini has given a number of players a chance, the vast majority only got the one chance as City pushed towards Champions League qualification and Premier League success. Would that have been different had Mancini had a trusted adviser in the EDS camp? It's a question that will remain unanswered.

Mancini's position within the club is also strengthened by Lombardo's presence in the EDS, and could be a sign of him exerting his greater influence within the club since winning the Premier League and penning a new 5 year contract. Bobby has a clear vision for the club and is clearly comfortable with Lombardo's credentials, so who am I to argue?

2-3 years ago, several players in this crop of players now in the EDS had the potential to push on to play in the first team. One of the major criticisms levelled at Welsh was that the vast majority of these players did not progress at the level expected of them and several have stagnated completely. While I admit it would be increasingly difficult for young players to break through, an indication of where a player is can sometimes be their national sides, and some have been overlooked completely for a couple of years at the 18-21 levels while Welsh has been at the helm.

What Attilio has to do now is drive these players back towards their potential, they need to be pushed and tested so they can make the next steps in their career at City. Undoubtedly for some it may now be (and probably is) too late while others may be caught just in time. But is Lombardo the man for the job? That's a question that will be answered soon enough.

Twitter: @MikeWalshMCFC
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