Hibs youth chief: 'Everyone wants the next Broony - that takes time.'

Scott Brown during a game against Dundee United in the 2004/05 season. Picture: SNSScott Brown during a game against Dundee United in the 2004/05 season. Picture: SNS
Scott Brown during a game against Dundee United in the 2004/05 season. Picture: SNS
Beuzelin preaches patience with potential stars

Quality costs. Putting elite talent in your starting XI involves either handing over a hefty sum of hard currency – or investing time and patience in prospects working to their own timetable.

For most clubs, the latter is the only realistic option. Even if the nature of the modern game makes it hard for teams to stick with kids, even the best and brightest of their generation, when points are being dropped and fizzing fans are growing increasingly frustrated.

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As Hibs academy coach Guillaume Beuzelin puts it: “I know everyone wants to see the next Scott Brown. Well, you have to remember that Scott had a lot of potential – but he wasn’t there yet, when he first came into the team.

“It took a while for him to develop. We all see what he became eventually. But we gave him a chance and time to develop. That’s what you need to do.”

Beuzelin, speaking from his own experience as a rare old head in a Hibs team bursting with youthful enthusiasm, is one of the men responsible for guiding the next generation of top talents into senior football. In his role out at East Mains, he’s seen one of his core beliefs – that only first-team football can make a first-team footballer – confirmed by countless case studies.

During his four seasons in the Hibs midfield, the League Cup winner played alongside Brown, Kevin Thomson, Steven Whittaker, Steven Fletcher, Derek Riordan, Garry O’Connor, Lewis Stevenson … it’s a long, long list. In this era of one-and-done moves for young Scottish talent, with the best occasionally jumping ship after a single season spent showcasing their talents, it’s worth remembering that things once moved a little more slowly.

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Brown spent four years at Hibs before being signed by Celtic for a record fee, between Scottish clubs, of over £4 million. Fletcher made his Hibs debut in 2004 and didn’t leave until 2009, in a £3 million move to Burnley.

Yes, the economics of the game have changed, making it harder for any Scottish club to reject a reasonable offer for top prospects. But the experience those young players gained in their home country’s elite competition effectively MADE them as footballers.

Beuzelin said: “When I was here as a player, we had so many youngsters coming through. The quality was frightening. The commitment and energy, that’s what you get when you have youth.

“But we still needed three or four senior players around them, a good combination to get success on the pitch. It’s so much easier for the manager when everyone is going in the same direction.

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“It was quite different when I was playing. Because there weren’t that many senior players, the manager had to turn to the youngsters – and he wasn’t scared to put everybody in at the same time, with some senior figures around them. The balance is important.”

Pinpointing the one quality needed by any young player looking to break into the first team, Beuzelin said: “I think it’s the mindset. If you have no fear, if you react in a positive way when you make a mistake, that’s the quality that makes the difference. If you are scared to make a mistake, that’s a problem.

“That’s what you see in someone like Rory Whittaker. He’s got mistakes in him. But he’s willing to learn and to try. He has this belief.

“So yes, he has quality. But even when he makes a mistake, I can see it in him, he’s ready for the next moment, the next challenge, the next goal.

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“That’s the most important attribute for a young player. How they deal with failure, in a way.”

With new sporting director Malky Mackay just in the door (he officially starts tomorrow) and the new season looming large on the horizon, Beuzelin is currently part of a coaching group dealing with player movement through the age groups – and potentially beyond. It’s a complex task. And one at least partly reliant on outside co-operation.

“The thing for us is creating a pathway,” he said. “But I still think there is a big gap between under-18 football and the first team.

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“Just now we’re looking, like most of the Scottish teams, to send players on loan. But that loan needs to be spot on.

“If we send a boy to League Two or League One and he doesn’t play, there is no point. It’s not beneficial because the boys need to play.

“But last year we had Kanayo Megwa go to Airdrie, played almost every single minute. That’s a great example. On the other side, we had other guys who went on loan and didn’t get the minutes we wanted. It has to be right.”