Mark Allen: The starting point
- Wed 22 Aug 2012, 11:33AM
- Posted by Mark Booth
In the sixth week of Mark Allen's blog, City's Head of Academy reacts to the first weekend of under-18 and under-21 fixtures.
The Elite Development Squad's 0-0 draw with Chelsea was a fantastic advert for the new U21s league between two evenly matched teams that demonstrated perfectly the reason why this league has been put together.
We had great conditions and a great environment at Brentford FC - it was brilliant to have a 3,000 crowd there to see a great game of football that could have gone either way.
It was also good to see first-year scholars in the line-up, like Marcos Lopes and a whole clutch of second-years as well as a few first-year professionals.
As for Saturday’s under-18s game against Chelsea, I think it will prove the case that most clubs will find that if you’re true to your development program this season then you are pushing your youngsters all the time.
There is bound to be be a knock-on effect but I think that we easily could have gone in at half-time 3-2 up but we found ourselves 2-1 down and from there, the fourth goal in the match was always going to be the crucial one.
On the day, it was Chelsea that got it but what I found really pleasing was that we didn’t shut up shop and try to contain them – we pushed on and stuck to our principles even if it didn’t pay off in this match and we conceded more goals.
I think people purely looking at this result need to take into account that we ended the game with two 15-year old schoolboys on the pitch – this can only be a good thing.
It’s dangerous to be reactive to every single result as we have to put the emphasis on development – if we have several age-groups playing over a weekend and players are being called up to the next one, something has to give somewhere so we have to be patient.
George Evans, Karim Rekik, Denis Suarez and Marcos Lopes have all had first-team experience now and this can only happen if we continue to push our players up the age-groups and test them to get the maximum out of every single individual that comes through here.
We have a really exciting draw in the NextGen Series which kicks off next Thursday at home to PSG at Hyde FC.
This competition is a great chance for our Under-19 players to pick their wits against some of Europe’s top clubs and I’m hoping that we’ll fare well in that.
Most importantly, it’s international experience in the development of these players and while anything can happen on the night and we have a very young squad again, we think the experience of last year's tournament can only aid us this time around.
Finally, I'm really looking forward to the EDS game against Middlesbrough at the Etihad Stadium on Friday.
It's free entry for the match and my message to the fans is, that if the league is going to work in the way that we all want it to work, the only way that players will bridge the gap from under-18 to EDS to first team is by bringing the environment they’re playing in as close as we can to the first-team experience.
By turning out, supporters can not only take a closer look at some of the talent that we’ve got coming through but they can also play a valuable part in their development as footballers by providing the environment that they will have to get used to if they’re going to forge careers in football.Hope to see you all there,
Mark Allen, MCFC Head of Academy