Bleiberg hails 'Golden Generation'

Gold Coast United boss Miron Bleiberg believes his club is blessed with a 'Golden Generation' of talent coming through the ranks of their National Youth League team.

Gold Coast United boss Miron Bleiberg believes his club is blessed with a 'Golden Generation' of talent coming through the ranks of their National Youth League team.

While all the focus this season has been on United's senior team and their charge for a top two place in the Hyundai A-League, their youth team has quietly risen to top spot in the NYL, seven points clear of second and in the box seat to seal back-to-back youth championships.

Even more encouraging is the fact that in the two years since United have been in the Hyundai A-League, a number of youth team players - including the likes of Golgol Mebrahtu, Ben Halloran, Chris Harold, Zac Anderson, Ben Wearing, Steven Lustica, Mitch Bevan and Josh Brillante - have all tasted varying degrees of first-team action.

They have proved to be a cut above at youth level and with such vast talent coming through the club's ranks, Bleiberg says it makes his job as a coach much easier with ready-made locals already in the pipeline for senior deals.

"Four of them already have professional contracts for next year and maybe there'll be two more. It's exciting," Bleiberg said. "I'd like to think they would be able to do a job next year but even if we call next year a transition year, and we don't have the same results as this year, I know that the year after will be fantastic for them."

"We have our own 'Golden Generation' like Beckham and the Neville brothers at Manchester United, but the only problem was that they played for Manchester United so nobody could take them away. For us there's no doubt in my mind that after one year, the vampires and agents will come for them."

"But it gives us satisfaction. We created this club to give a career path to south-east Queensland juniors. That was the vision from day one, so they don't have to go interstate. It's already happening after two years. Before we only had the Roar, so all of these talented guys we have now wouldn't have been picked."

The man who serves as the engineer of United's youth team is coach Mike Mulvey, who came to the club after years of experience in youth development at the Queensland Academy of Sport. In that role he was a crucial part of the production line that shaped talented players such as Tommy Oar, Luke DeVere and Robbie Kruse.

When lured over to Gold Coast United, he also brought with him numerous QAS graduates who now make up the majority of the club's NYL squad - and having worked with them for so many years, the advantage of having Mulvey at the club is plain to see.

Mulvey also doubles as Bleiberg's senior assistant and with a foot in both youth and first team camps, it enables Gold Coast United an easier transition in ushering in a new generation.

"Part of the reason why we employed Mike Mulvey as youth team coach is because he worked with the QAS for the last 10 years," Bleiberg said. "You're as good a coach as the players you have. Mike has a good eye for young players and so he has a good team. It's like in real estate, if you buy right then you make the profits."

"Mike knows this generation of players inside out. He brought them over, I approved them and together we are producing some young, exciting players."

But Bleiberg says the secret to the club's success with youth is the fact that so many are already training with the first team and coming to grips with professional football in the midst of Gold Coast's array of stars.

He says this system makes it far easier for a player to step into the senior team when a young player has already had a taste of the experience.

"They're all training with the first team, they have been for a while and they're not out of place. They're training with the likes of Jason Culina and Michael Thwaite, day in, day out," he said.

"It gives them experience and it helps them get used to the tempo of the A-League, and also so they can get away from that young naivety so they know what to do when they get kicked or fouled in senior football. But that comes with time as well."

"Every training session we have close to 25 or 30 players. When our youth team plays at the weekend, 10 out of the 11 will be train the seniors. I don't know what other clubs do but our boys live and breathe professional football. They're basically a second A-League team in the youth league."