Gareth Taylor has urged his young Manchester City charges to summon up ‘one last push’ as his Academy youngsters go in search of FA Youth Cup final glory at home to Liverpool tonight (7.45pm).
City’s Youth Cup journey began before Christmas and has taken in road trips to non-league Clevedon, Derby and Bournemouth as well as home encounters with Nottingham Forest and West Brom.
Now youth football’s most prestigious prize all comes down to tonight’s clash with City enjoying home advantage in a one-off showpiece with the FA Youth Cup final format having changed from its former home and away two-legged incarnation this season.
And, after a superb campaign which has already seen City’s youngsters lift the Premier League Under-18 Cup, manager Taylor is calling on his young players to seize the moment and make it a real season to remember.
“It’s a case of one last big push. Everyone is really excited about the challenge and I think we’ve got good momentum as we’ve had a lot of games recently which can help,” said the City boss.
“I think it has been great for us playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday a couple of times over the past few weeks which has given us a good flow and momentum and we are all looking forward to the challenge and enjoying the opportunity we have.
“Obviously, we have to consider and put all our energy into picking up the trophy but what’s important is the steps it takes to get there and putting in the performance. They are the things you will be most satisfied with.
“I do think it will be the toughest test yet. Liverpool are a good team. They have good energy and are aggressive and like to get in your face and put you under pressure.
“So it’s going to be a really tough challenge and one we have to be ready for but we’ve said that in all the other rounds and stressed about the need to make sure the basics are taken care of and, above all else, going out and enjoying it.
“We’ve been fortunate in that we have been drawn at home and we’re really looking forward to playing in front of our supporters.”
City’s FA Youth Cup campaign has proved to be a real squad effort with virtually every member of Taylor’s group making their own telling contributions throughout the course of the campaign.
Those that haven’t figured – either due to injury or for tactical reasons – have still been present throughout the run, urging their colleagues on and the manager says that unified spirit and bond have proved key factors in the team’s collective success.
“The players have been superb. Every time we’ve asked them, they have pushed and give us everything,” adds Taylor.
“We spoke with the players before our first game back at Clevedon and said the team would change but that we needed everyone to be together and that there would be changes along the way.
“The players have bought into that and there are going to be disappointments that’s part and parcel of the game and the players who are fortunate enough to be selected know that and they have a responsibility to the rest of the group.
“We had that in the Premier League Cup and had that until now in the Youth Cup.
“Everyone has played a part - be it from the bench from the stands and it’s been a real positive.
“So now it’s one final push, a big game to look forward to and enjoy and hopefully we can do the business.”