Academies weren’t a part of football when Dave Bowman was making his way in the game.
However, the Dundee United legend feels they are becoming increasingly important after the club’s youth set-up recently achieved Elite status.
Former United midfielder Bow, player transition coach at the club’s academy, is delighted the Tangerines have reached that landmark in the Scottish FA’s Project Brave initiative just a year after restructuring operations.
The 55-year-old, who spent 12 years as a player at Tannadice and many more in various back-room roles, believes the club has made great strides to become “frontrunners” in youth football rather than looking at others with envy.
“We’re hopeful here, with the good environment and discipline instilled into them, that we can get results,” Bowman said.
“We’ve got everything available now because of the work done by the owners and Tony Asghar.
“With them coming in it’s sort of evolved the whole thing. We used to be jealous of what other clubs were doing before but we’re now probably one of the frontrunners.
“We’re doing a lot of things other teams are aspiring to do. Because of the money and finance put in, it certainly makes your job a lot easier and helps a long way.
“When you’re attracting young players to join the club, you want the kids to come into an elite environment rather than what it was before.
“We weren’t bad before but there was no finance to do it properly. Andy Goldie is driving it on and we’ve managed to get to Elite status which is brilliant.
“Restructuring the whole thing has meant new faces have come in with new ideas.
“It’s about evolving all the time, you can’t just sit and accept it because that’s what was happening 10 or 20 years ago.”
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That said, Bow still believes attitude is what will help players get to where they want to be, citing former United man and Liverpool star Andy Robertson as an example.
“That’s one of the biggest things I see with kids that are talented,” he added.
“It’s how you install it into them to give that extra 10%. When you come out the other end of an academy, that’s the bit that will help you.
“You need to be disciplined. Even since I played, and it’s changed a lot since then, football’s been like that.
“You can’t go out every night, you’ve got to practice things and get the basics right first before you work on your game.
“We’re wanting to give them the whole package by putting all the fragments together and glue them so we get better players at the end of the day.
“I’m a great believer in always getting to where you want to go.
“You could stay here, play in the first team and, if you’re good enough, you could always move.
“We’ve had one recently with Banksy (Scott Banks).
“Andy Robertson is a fine example, to have came from Queen’s Park then come up here.
“From us he probably could’ve gone straight to a Liverpool or a higher team but he went to Hull and earned his stripes.
“Sometimes they want to accelerate it and get from down at E right up to A straight away, rather than working their way up.
“That’s the way it goes sometimes and I’ve seen others like wee Gauldy (Ryan Gauld).
“I’d have put my mortgage on wee Gauldy being a success at Sporting eventually but, unfortunately for him, things turn out different ways.
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“He’s still playing in Portugal, of course, but he was the one I thought would’ve kicked on.
“If I’d looked at Andy and Gauldy back then I’d have probably said Gauldy was the better player. It says a lot about Andy’s character as well and his real drive and determination.”
Not everyone can be Andy Robertson, though, Bowman concedes.
“I always think the Dutch are a brilliant example because even when players leave the likes of PSV and Ajax, they’ll go elsewhere.
“Whereas, sometimes in Scotland they’ll drop out of academies and then football altogether.
“We’d like to see those boys progress and keep playing as well. That’s a big part of my job, too.
“I hope that when they come in full-time with us, they’ll aspire to be players at one level or another.
“They’ve just got to show what they’re about. If you want to give that extra 10, 15, 20% to get there it will help you in the end.”