Whenever I meet a new player I always ask which team they follow. The majority reply with either Barcelona or Real Madrid, two teams packed with outrageous talent. Messi and Ronaldo are two of the greatest to ever have played the game and it is wonderful that our players can watch these superstars week in and week out on television. As with all young people, they want to be like their heroes, they want to play like Messi and Ronaldo. So I imagine that it is perhaps a little dispiriting for young players when they are told to play kick ball at a young age.
The modern game is incredibly quick in part because players possess a very high level of fitness (an average midfielder will run around 13-15 km per match in the EPL), but the speed of the game is really predicated on the technical skill of the players. The better the technical skill, the quicker that team can move the ball around the field. Our players are growing up watching these phenomenally skilled players, they are inspired by them, they practice the things that they see, and they want to try these things out on the field.
So if we want to encourage our players to play like Barca, or be like Messi then we need to be supporting them at every turn, working hard on their technical game, encouraging them to try new things, to push themselves, to keep the ball rather than thump it downfield, to express themselves.
If players take some responsibility for their own development and work outside of practice, watch as much football on the TV as possible, and we allow them to be creative without fear of reprimand for mistakes then we will be moving in the right direction. After all, most of the kids I work with are split between Real Madrid and Barcelona, so why should we make them play like West Brom?