The U18s boss and Academy director have their say on the U18s winning the North Division title and the success of the Academy…
City U18s were confirmed as champions of the Barclays U18 Premier League North Division earlier today following Everton’s 3-1 win against Derby.
Speaking about the success, Wilcox told mcfc.co.uk: “We’re really delighted with the league win. It was a shame we couldn’t win it the other day, I thought we were excellent against United and, unfortunately, we conceded a late equaliser.
“The boys felt they had almost lost the game after that. For the last two days we’ve all been waiting for the Everton result and, while it looked a tall order, you can’t celebrate until the final score line.”
The 44-year old continued: “To win it twice in three years, as well as a third place finish in 2014/15, is a great achievement. Not only for the players and myself, but for the staff behind-the-scenes who don’t get much credit.
“I’d personally like to thank all the staff that aren’t in the dugout on a Saturday, especially to Mark and Rodolfo Borrell, who have been a massive support and influence to me.
“Now we’ve got to push on and try and win the second stage of the campaign, as well as the UEFA Youth League and FA Youth Cup. We can afford ourselves a day to celebrate, but focus will quickly switch to the game against Real Madrid on Tuesday. These occasions don’t come round too often so we’ll enjoy tonight and then kick on in the aforementioned competitions.”
As previously mentioned, the title win is the second North Division trophy in three years under Wilcox and he used an element of his past to ensure the U18s remained focus on the goal.
He said: “As a player, I was lucky enough to win one Premier League title with Blackburn. At the time, I felt I was going to go on and win more, I think most of the squad did. We took our foot off the gas and that’s something I made sure we didn’t do.
“What’s impressed me more than anything is that we’ve won the league with a brand of football that has been exceptional at times. For any City fans who watched our games this year, they would have been extremely proud with the way we’ve played – just like I am.”
Academy director Mark Allen shared a similar opinion on the U18s success, commenting: “I’m delighted with the U18s winning the league today. We hoped we could have wrapped it up at United in midweek, I thought we played exceptionally well against them and were unfortunate not to win that game.
“We were relying on others today, but the lads fully deserve it and I’m delighted for Jason and the staff. They’ve worked exceptionally hard all year, they’ve only lost two games in all competitions and, rightly so, have won this part of the league.”
Another opinion both Allen and Wilcox share is that of the journey to the first team and the Academy director stated his delight of each age group stepping up this weekend, culminating in some of the EDS potentially being involved against Chelsea tomorrow.
Allen stated: “We’re here to develop footballers and, at the end of the day, winning leagues is fantastic but it’s about putting them on a journey to the first team.
“Some of the U18s have stepped up for the EDS today and some of the EDS could play for the first team tomorrow, and that’s why we’re here.
“The future is looking quite bright at the moment and we’ve got to keep the boys focused and hopefully go on to win more competitions this year.”
The U18s aren’t the only group that have been in fine form recently and the Academy director was keen to point out the bright future of the Club after recent success in the young age groups.
He beamed: “The U16s have done very well, the U15s are in the semi-final of the Floodlit Cup and the U10s emerged as champions of the national Futsal tournament last week. We’re pleased with the way things are progressing, but like all things we have to keep driving forward to become as good as we can.”