Allen looks to improve on recent success
- 04 June 2014 14:35
- Posted by @porter_mcfc
Head of Academy, Mark Allen has hailed the consistent style of play and the club's support as two of the key reasons behind the recent youth success.
2013/14 was a record-breaking season for the Academy, as City became the first club in history to see seven boys capped by England in one year at under-16 level.
It was a remarkable campaign across the youth system, with several age groups finishing as National Champions, while others enjoyed strong performances in European competition.
City have long had a policy of promoting players up the age groups to aid development, and Allen believes the key to reaching such highs while often fielding players younger than the opposition lies in the unswerving style and philosophy employed throughout the Academy.
Allen told mcfc.co.uk: “We have been building a very clear methodology and philosophy in the way we want to play and the type of players we’re looking for. What that allows us to do is advance players when we feel they are ready for the next challenge, because they know their responsibilities, they know how we are going to play and they know what is expected of them.
“We are reaping those rewards because if you look at the u18s – which is the benchmark because it’s the most competitive league – the majority of that team is made up of first year scholars because our second year scholars have moved on to the next level and are playing in the EDS."
“That for me is real progress, that we are finding the appropriate challenges for the boys but more importantly we are fast tracking them where appropriate for their development to give them every possible chance to play at the next level.”
However, while the Academy has received plenty of credit for this year’s achievements, Allen is quick to point out the challenges facing his team would be far greater without the considerable support they enjoy from the rest of the club.
That support extends to all staff and the players themselves – highlighted on the final day of the season when under-18s skipper Ashley Smith-Brown was joined by his under-11s counterpart and a member of the under-14s to carry out the Premier League trophy onto the Etihad Stadium pitch.
“We are very fortunate in the academy that we do enjoy the support of the whole football club,” Allen declared. “Everyone throughout the whole organisation has been very supportive of what we are trying to do.
“Hopefully in time we will be able to repay that confidence with players coming right the way through the system."
“But I think that moment when you saw three of the Academy players carrying out the Premier League trophy for the first team showed this is a family club. That’s what we tell players and parents every day - we are together, we are connected and I think that moment typified that in action.”
Next year will see the next crop of promising youngsters make history as they become the first groups to use the City Football Academy, and City’s Head of Academy is excited at the benefits that will bring.
He said: “The CFA in is going to be an unbelievable experience for the boys and one that will live with them forever whatever happens in their careers. I think we need to manage that but it has to be seen as the best in the world and they will be a part of it.
“They will be the first groups in there and they are history makers. A lot of these boys are making history because we’re going into new areas and reaching new milestones and that is tantamount to the efforts of everybody at the academy.”
The CFA is one example of the club’s enduring commitment to even greater success, and that vision is shared throughout the Academy. While this term has been outstanding, Allen has no desire to stand still and is always seeking further improvement.
“When you set your stall out at the beginning of the year you want to be successful and you want to see progress,” he revealed.
“Anything that advances us is the right thing to do, whether that is the u18s repeating their success, a better run in the Youth Cup, winning National Championships, advancing players into Patrick Vieira’s squad earlier, or getting players from Patrick’s team into Manuel Pellegrini’s arena, everything has got to be seen as progressive.
“I’ll be looking at next year and asking what can we to make it better than this. There are so many ways to achieve development and growth and that’s what keeps it exciting. We don’t sit back and trade off last year.
“Last year was great but now we move onto next season and I think everybody here is mentally poised for that.”