Manchester City Academy Director Mark Allen believes the form of City’s young sides in 2016 bodes extremely well for the future of the club.
City’s U18s beat Stoke City on Wednesday to ensure they ended the calendar year unbeaten in the Premier League, suffering only one defeat across the whole 12 months - last season’s FA Youth Cup final.
With no matches until January, the festive period gives Allen a chance to reflect on an excellent year for City’s academy.
He said: “It’s very pleasing that we’ve managed to remain unbeaten in the calendar year in the league and I think that’s a testament to everybody at the academy including staff and players and their desire to win games.
“It bodes well and it’s a good reflection of the focus and the attitude of the players and the staff around them.”
It’s not just within their own teams that City’s youngsters have been able to shine, with many getting the chance to move up through the ranks.
Allen said: “It’s great to have a manager who really believes in youth and he’s been no stranger to our games. He watches all the highlights of the U16s, U18s and U23s matches as well as inviting a number of players to train with the first team.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for them and it tells them that there is a pathway and we can see that with the lads that are already part of the squad.
“The icing on the cake came when Phil Foden, who has been with us since he was 5 or 6 years old, got on the bench against Celtic. It was something that gave everyone an enormous boost.”
Having promoted many of last season’s U18 Premier League champions to the Elite Development Squad, the majority of this year’s squad are first year scholars and therefore still eligible at U17 level.
That wasn’t the only change during the summer with former Head of Coaching Rodolfo Borrell moving to the first team, U18 boss Jason Wilcox taking his role and former Everton midfielder Lee Carsley joining the club as U18 coach.
Allen is delighted with the changes made: “We had a very fluent transition in that Rodolfo Borrell, who moved over to the first team, gave us a very good structure over the two years he spent with us. Jason was an integral part of that and that made the transition much smoother.
“Lee’s done well at both senior and youth level but it was his desire to be in a youth setup that led to us recruiting him and we’ve gone from strength to strength in terms of our understanding with no change to the style of play which is very heartening in the overall philosophy of the club.”
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