Chianese signing crucial for Sydney's future

Sydney FC's signing of Lucas Neill might have attracted most of the headlines but it was their 'other' signing over the last week which says more about the current philosophy.

Sydney FC's signing of Lucas Neill might have attracted most of the headlines but it was their 'other' signing over the last week which says more about the current philosophy of the club.

While young striker Joel Chianese might not yet register on the same scale as the Socceroos skipper, the club's faith in him says much about their direction and lessons learned from the past.

The Sky Blues have been one of the most successful clubs on the field in the history of the Hyundai A-League but their record for developing and promoting local juniors hasn't always been at the forefront.

It was more about bling than nurturing - at least to start with.

But there's no doubt in recent seasons the club have put a greater emphasis on identifying and developing their own talent.

You only have to look at this season's team as a prime example.

The likes of Peter Triantis, Aaron Calver, Nathan Sherlock and Daniel Petkovski have all come through the club's youth side to make their first team debuts this season.

They follow players like Rhyan Grant, Terry Antonis, Mitch Mallia and Chianese who had already emerged in previous campaigns.

Former Sky Blues boss Ian Crook, who also spent a couple of seasons in the club's youth set-up, believes the club is now getting the balance right and reaping the benefits on the field.

"You look at the young boys in there now they have good quality and are getting a lot of game time and doing well," Crook said this week.

"I think it shows how far the club has come in that regard.

"There's work to do for all clubs. If you look at all the big and successful clubs around the world, they all have thriving youth programs.

"Manchester United, Ajax, Barcelona...yes they go out and buy players too but you need to have that nursery there."

Crook believes the Sky Blues, like the rest of the A-League clubs, have put a much greater emphasis on indentifying and improving their junior base.

He feels the proof is clear that the connection between the senior squad and youth team is as strong as ever.

Crook's optimism about the future - not only for the Sky Blues but other clubs in the state - has only intensified since taking on his new role with Football NSW helping to nurture young, local talent.

Alongside former Socceroos skipper Alex Tobin, the 50-year-old is working as a coaching co-ordinator with the organisation.

They go out to NSW State League clubs to assess their programs, take training sessions and work with the coaches for teams from under-12s to 15s.

While the system has been around for a while, Crook is hoping they can improve the coaching and development at a junior level, which will eventually filter through to A-League clubs.

"It's a work in progress but the signs are encouraging," Crook said.

"Central Coast (Mariners), Sydney and Western Sydney (Wanderers) all fit in with us and it's going to be important for them over the years that players can come through Football NSW clubs through to them.

"It's about trying to put things in place from a young age, 10, 11, 12, 14 year-olds and brining everything into line.

"It's the best way to go...hopefully we can get everyone on the same page from state clubs right through to A-League.

"Its early days but it's exciting too."