Thomas Krucken: Developing players of the future at Manchester City
Written by Training Ground Guru — January 5, 2024
NEW Manchester City Academy Director Thomas Krucken says his main job is to develop the ‘player of the future.’
The German succeeded Jason Wilcox as City’s Academy boss in August last year, having previously been Stuttgart's Head of Youth Development.
In his first interview since taking the job, Krucken said: “The speed of the game will increase, so it is our common task and challenge to develop the future player for the future game.
“So what skills and abilities does a player need? How is knowledge transfer changing? How is leadership changing? And how can we put all the City Football Group knowledge together?
“This is like the basic for me when you work in a football Academy, because we should have an idea about the game for the future, because we should develop the player of the future. When we have an idea, let’s do it today.
“When we know what comes in the future, it is our job in current time to work on it - so the U11, U13, U14 player of 2023 is prepared for the game in 2029. For me, it is getting the good things we are doing at the moment and developing what we have in detail and bringing all the knowledge together we have in our building with my experience and knowledge to create something special.
“The topic for me is to develop the City future player for the future game and I can’t wait to start working on these things. We will start soon with the process to add on the very good methodology and programme we have at the moment.”
City Football Group have subject-matter experts who work across all the clubs in their portfolio, such as Head of Coaching Methodology Mark Leyland, who was our guest on Episode #56 of the TGG Podcast.
Krucken added that there were five key things that make a successful Academy: people, culture, a uniform methodology, a good structure for the transition phase and individual development.
“For me, it is always about having the right people; the people are the key for me,” the 46-year-old said. “The second thing is the culture, to have the right culture in our building with a high performance standard.
“A uniform game vision and methodology and it is brilliant we have something like this at City. The structure of the transition phase is also very important for me and I believe in individualisation in youth development, not only for the players, it is the same importance for the staff members.”
Krucken's new role marks a return to City, because he coached the club’s Foundation Phase for a season in 2000/2001.
“I am so thankful that Jim Cassell, the former Academy Director who gave me the opportunity to work with the 10-year-old boys. People like Paul Power gave me a direction in my coaching career.
“When I think about the squads, it was Kieran Trippier in my team, we had Shaun Wright-Phillips, Kasper Schmeichel, and the facilities were not that good. As I said before, it is always the question do you have the right people in the building and to build a good culture and do you have a uniform game vision and methodology.
“But what is quite similar is the quality of the people.”
When asked about the potential tension between developing young players and winning trophies, Krucken said: “If a player develops and has a good learning environment, then team successes are the consequences of good development work.”