It’s not quite gone to plan for Dundee United kid Louis Appere this season but Tannadice youth supremo Brian Grant says they’re doing everything they can to get him back on track.
Appere enjoyed a breakthrough campaign last term as he racked up 33 appearances, scored six goals and made a significant contribution overall to United’s Championship success.
The 21-year-old attacker has found first-team opportunities hard to come by under new boss Micky Mellon this time out, largely having to make do with starting on the bench in most games.
Grant, head of player pathway and loans manager at the club, insists part of the problem for Appere and others his age is making the step up to Premiership football.
The Tangerines academy chief believes Appere could be suffering from ‘second season syndrome’ but that he will come good in time.
“Louis falls in that category of those aged 17 to 22 where we’re trying to get them developed properly,” Grant said.
“We speak to Louis on a regular basis to see how he’s feeling and it’s just unfortunate he’s not had the same level of impact as he did last season.
“You’re going into a different league, playing against better quality defences and it’s a more unforgiving as well.
“It’s a step up and you sometimes find with young players they get a second season syndrome as well.
“He had a fantastic year last term where he’s impacted games with goals and assists but this year he’s found it’s not come as easy for him.
“It’s not for lack of work or effort, it’s luck, opportunity and playing a slightly higher level. It will come for him, though.”
Mellon & Co will support Tangerines’ young stars
Grant believes some do not see the mental side of the game, particularly for young players, as a huge factor to development.
However, he insists it’s something which doesn’t go unnoticed with the Terrors as he tries to, in his role, help players progress.
He continued: “We’re all responsible for that – their state of mind, fitness and giving them as much help as possible to get through a difficult phase.
“It’s never going to be a smooth journey. Anything that could upset that transition – injury, loss of form, illness, a family bereavement, etc.
“We’re always there to support and speak to them to make sure they’re in a good place.”
Grant includes boss Mellon in that support network, stating that the former Tranmere Rovers gaffer has been excellent with he and player transition coach Dave Bowman since checking in at Tannadice.
Grant praised Mellon for taking on board their advice but he maintains the final decision will always come down to the manager himself.
He added: “He’s come in and valued what Bow and I have to say – we’ve got quite a lot of experience between the two of us.
“We have worked with a lot of players at the club, not only the young ones, but guys like Jamie Robson who’s been at the club since he was 11.
“We know how he works, the type of boy he is and how he’s developed.
“There’s the likes of Louis as well who’s come into things a bit later that you’re helping them get to know as well.
“That’s helped Micky coming into the club and getting to know players a bit better.
“He doesn’t always go by our opinion but he’ll listen and make his mind up from there.”