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Mark Allen Under 18s
Season 2012/13

Mark Allen: If you’re good enough, you’re old enough

  • 11 October 2012 14:13
  • Posted by Mark Booth
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City’s Head of Academy reflects on a busy month at Platt Lane and Carrington.

The integration with the EDS is working very well, a lot of our boys are now training up at Carrington with Attilio on a full-time basis, developing as a team and as a group, which bore fruit with a very good result away at Fenerbahce.

Results at under-18 level will continue to be mixed as we promote players up the age-groups to give them experience of a higher level. If it was all about results for us, we’d have all of the second year scholars from Carrington over here on a Saturday morning to play in the under-18s league.

Would those players benefit from tearing up the under-18s league as much as they do facing the challenge of under-21 football at 16, 17, 18-years old? I don’t think they would.

The next stage we saw in the Capital One Cup against Aston Villa where George Evans, Denis Suarez and Jeremy Helan were all involved in the squad.

Would Roberto Mancini have put them into that squad without the bridge that is under-21 football? Again, I don’t think he would.


By being around Carrington, players like George, Jeremy and Denis have the chance to get used to that environment and have the opportunity to catch Roberto’s eye and we’re really fortunate to have a first-team manager like Roberto who has a proven track record of giving youth a chance.

This game is not about winning football matches, it’s about getting the maximum out of every individual and pushing them to see how far they can go - the latest of which was Aaron Nemane who was 14-years old when he made his debut the other week at Fulham.

It was a quite amazing debut from Aaron – we were talking on the sidelines and we thought his pace might make a difference and then literally with his first touch he put the ball in the back of the net, so we all had a wry smiles on our faces.

It was no fluke as he followed it up with a brave header which for a 14-year old boy in under-18s football shows he has the temperament and he can cope with that arena.


Aaron was there on merit, he deserved his chance and it bodes well for his development. Nathaniel Oseni is another one coming through the ranks at an early age – Tosin Adarabioyo is another who is injured at the moment but has made that development.

The defeat in our last game was another learning curve, Wolves have their philosophy and of course we respect that, we have to learn to cope with playing against teams who are less concerned with ball retention and more about direct play. We go back to the drawing board and think how can we learn from that.

Our 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at the end of September was the best performance of the season for me – the whole team worked really hard and the endeavour paid off and it was great to see that our first goal came from winning the ball back and breaking on the opposition.

Wins, defeats and draws are one aspect, showing that we're willing to throw boys into a higher level is another thing. While the results might not come on the Saturday morning, we believe they will later on in the individual’s development as they prepare and develop for the ultimate goal: a place in the first-team.

If you're good enough, you're old enough.

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