***UPDATE, 3:21 PM CET: I've made some changes in the article to reflect my original intention in writing. TO reiterate, I do not think this strategy should be implemented long term; rather, I feel that it is necessary this year, now that RM Castilla are so close to being promoted to Segunda A.
One of the most popular opinions about Real Madrid--and really, about soccer in general--is that first team managers should give more playing time to young players from the youth system. In principle, this is an idea I can accept: younger players need first team experience so they can continue their developmental progression by experiencing the pace of first division soccer. I get it.
Over the last couple of years, this philosophy has transformed into popular opinion thanks to the success of FC Barcelona's young players. Real Madrid fans complain endlessly about their coach: why bring in another player when we can simply bring in a similar player from Castilla? Why not give more time to Castilla players instead of this veteran, or this recent acquisition? Why sell Roberto Soldado and then buy Karim Benzema? While I understand where these complaints are coming from, I wish to dispute the logic behind them.
Yes, I'm going to argue against giving first team playing time to Real Madrid Castilla players this season. Before you rush to the comments to tell me how stupid I am, just hear me out.The basic premise of the arguments for bringing players up from Castilla is twofold: first, that these players should be able to fill in essentially seemlessly for their first team counterpart, and second, that bringing them up for short stints will help their development. I wish to contest both points.
First, apart from a few notable exceptions, Castilla players haven't developed enough to play for the first team. They are young, inexperienced players who have barely begun their professional careers. Sure, most of them have a huge amount of raw talent, but most of them are just beginning to understand how to nurture and develop that talent, and turn it into the requisite skills that are necessary for first division play. They will get there eventually. But most of them are not there yet.
Why can I be so sure about this? Well, because most of them have never spent more than a few games playing at a level that is even comparable to first division soccer. Most of them have spent their entire professional careers in Segunda B; I went to a Segunda B game last weekend, and let me tell you--it was nothing like Primera. It was slower, sloppier, played in front of a small crowd, and everything was worse, including the referees. It is professional soccer, yes, but it barely seemed like it; in fact, most of the players on both sides have day jobs to support their families. That's a far cry from the millions of euros that are flowing around Primera.
So, will bringing these young men up from this barely professional league and throwing them on the pitch at the Bernabéu really help their development? Sure, maybe. But it could just as easily leave them shell shocked and terrified. And think about it: how much time are they really getting on the pitch anyways? Especially now, without the Copa Del Rey, these player would get on the field for at most 10 minutes. So tell me, are those 10 minutes so transformative that it's worth taking the best players away from a Castilla squad that is currently battling to be promoted to an actual level of professional soccer?
I guess that is the real thesis of this argument: for this year, at least, it is more valuable for Real Madrid as an organization to do everything in their power to help Real Madrid Castilla get promoted to Segunda A than it is to bring players up to the first team. If the management thinks they can do both, then they should absolutely pursue it: for example, if Mourinho feels that playing Morata or Jesé in a Champions League game would help them, and it doesn't interfere with their Castilla schedule (that is: take them away from a match), then there is no harm in playing them. However, if that means sacrificing those "valuable" 10 minutes on the pitch for Morata, Jesé and company, then so be it. In the long run, these players will be infinitely better prepared to play in Primera if they have a season or two in Segunda A, where ex-Primera teams routinely play Barcelona B. Segunda A is the closest thing to Primera in the whole world: these players, and our organization in general, need to be there.
The point of this article is not to promote some anti-canterano sentiment; on the contrary, I feel that this is the only way for Madrid to have a respectable cantera. Arguing that players should be brought up to the first team at this point in the season is short-sighted. In fact, the best thing Mourinho could do for our stars-in-the-making is to keep them on Castilla, for this season at least.
OK, now you can call me stupid.