New training centre set-up aspirational '“ Duff

Clarets coach Michael Duff is adamant the academy's revolutionary structure is giving the younger generation the appetite to succeed at Turf Moor.

Michael Duff has retired from playing football after a career spanning 20 years. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Michael Duff has retired from playing football after a career spanning 20 years. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

The state-of-the-art facilities, the product of a £10.6m redevelopment at the Barnfield Training Centre, have been designed with a specific evolutionary thread in mind, providing development players with a vision of what their futures could hold.

As the 39-year-old former defender said, there’s a method to the madness. Those in the embryonic stages of their careers will no longer be stationed on the periphery, they’ll be integrated into the football family.

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Speaking about his new role and the clear pathway that has been put in place, Duff said: “As a player you don’t realise what’s going on behind the scenes in the academy, especially when I was a player because it was so separated.

“Now there’s a lot more interaction, which is better for our lads because they’re walking past the first team training every day.

“They see the manager every day. Before it was almost like they were in a different part of the club which, technically, they are, but there’s almost like a thread through now.

“It makes a massive difference. There’s interaction, they can learn, build relationships with first team players, a goalkeeper can say ‘what did you think about that Tom?’

“Sometimes things are more powerful coming from the first team players than anything the coaches can say. Young players listen to first team players.”

Duff, promoted to the Premier League three times with the Clarets, added: “Tommy Wood, one of our second years, got player of the year last season and, even being a first team player, I didn’t know his name. It’s wrong. He got player of the year so he must’ve been the best player but I didn’t even know his name, nevermind anybody elses.

“It’s different now. They train indoor in the morning and Tom (Heaton) will stick his head around the corner and have a chat with a couple of the lads.

“Dean Marney has done the same.

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“They’re building relationships, it’s aspirational.

“You train on one pitch, you make the under 23s, you train on the next pitch, then it’s up to the first team pitch.

“They move on, they move in to the first team dressing room, they get in to the first team canteen.

“There’s definitely a method behind the madness.”