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You've been great, Jim tells Boy Blues

Jim Cassell 0809

Jim Cassell 0809

Jim Cassell has reassured his Boy Blues that their season has been a success despite having the FA Youth Cup wrenched from their grasp by Arsenal, the team that has emerged as their greatest rivals.

City's Under-18s have finished comfortable winners of Barclays Academy Premier League Group C ahead of runners-up Manchester United and a creditable second in the Totesport.com League.

They also reached the last four of the prestigious Dallas Cup tournament in Texas last month, beating AC Milan 4-0 in winning their group before losing a penalty shoot-out to Brazilian aces Sao Paulo.

Their high hopes of a knockout trophy were dashed by a 2-1 defeat in Friday night's Premier League play-off semi-final against Arsenal, who also enjoyed a 6-2 aggregate win in the FA Youth Cup semi-final.

But Academy manager Cassell said: "We've had a great season and people should remember that. We've actually won our league by a mile, the Totesport team were second in their league, and we've got to two semi-finals. If that's failure, then we've failed!

"But I think what we've also proved is that we have players who have a fantastic chance of establishing themselves in the game.

"We're never afraid to lose. You've got to expose yourself if you want to play at the highest level. We've played probably the best team in the country three times and we've run them close on each occasion."

Boy Blues were unfortunate to lose the latest clash, which they controlled for long spells. Superb stand-in centre-back Abdi Ibrahim headed an equaliser but Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny was in inspired form.

Jim added: "There were good performances all round. The young lads in midfield, Omar Elabdellaoui and Ahmad Benali, are both available for the youth side next year and gave terrific performances. Abdi was magnificent.

"We were very disappointed with the result. The boys were a bit upset but they shouldn't be, because their performance was outstanding. We've dominated large periods of the game when we've played Arsenal.

"Maybe, if we're handing out praise, they had a little bit of quality in the last third where we didn't show composure when we had good possession. You don't always get the rub of the green. But I can only praise the players for our season."

City's defence of their FA Youth Cup came to grief with a 4-1 second-leg defeat at The Emirates. He admitted: "I'm disappointed about the Youth Cup. We didn't perform for the first 20 minutes at Arsenal and that cost us. But we know we can play against anybody in the country."

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