Mark Harrison outlines vision after taking over Aston Villa academy
Mark Harrison wants Villa to become the club every youngster wants to join after taking over as academy boss.
Harrison has begun work at Bodymoor Heath after making the switch from rivals Albion.
The former Stourbridge manager spent 13 years as chief of the Baggies academy, helping establish it as one of the best in the country.
Villa have a proud history of producing young talent but in recent years have seen a number of locally-born players flourish elsewhere in the Midlands. Harrison referenced the case of Louie Barry, a Sutton Coldfield-born Villa fan who instead joined Albion’s academy, before recently making a high-profile switch to Barcelona.
“He lives in Sutton Coldfield, he is a Villa fan and his dad is a Villa fan,” said Harrison. “That can’t happen in the future.
“We have to make sure locally Aston Villa is the club everyone wants to come to.”
Harrison claims the shared vision of Villa’s owners and management helped convince him to make the move across from The Hawthorns.
He described head coach Dean Smith, sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch and chief executive Christian Purslow as being a ‘Band of Brothers’, explaining: “I was really impressed with how they sold the club to me. I was enthused from the first time I met them.
“What really drew me here was the potential. You can see with the owners and the senior management the vision they have. I got a real good feel for how they want to build not only the club but the academy.
“I was part of a vision, certainly early on at West Brom when Dan Ashworth was technical director.
“The good thing for me is I know I am going to be challenged in the role. They understand it will take time.
“People will say I would say that because you are protecting yourself but to get an academy up to a level where we are producing Premier League players will take time.”