EDS & Academy

Look ahead to 2021: Elite Development Squad

Look ahead to 2021: Elite Development Squad
We assess the prospects for City's Elite Development Squad in 2021 as we welcome in the New Year...

Overview

If the portents of 2020 are anything to go by, our Elite Development Squad should enter 2021 with an extra spring in their collective step.

There were positives aplenty for Enzo Maresca and his players to digest over the festive break as they reflected on a hugely encouraging first half of the campaign.

The Italian head coach – who enjoyed a long and highly successful playing career – made an immediate impact following his appointment in the summer.

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And though City’s youngsters caught the eye through a series of impressive results, arguably even more satisfying was the manner in which that success has been achieved.

Adhering to our possession-based commitment to attacking football, Maresca’s innovative approach also saw City not afraid to demonstrate a tactical flexibility to great effect throughout the season so far.

The players have thrived on the ideas and philosophy of Maresca and his coaching team.

That positivity has been further enhanced with a host of EDS players – including Liam Delap, Cole Palmer, Tommy Doyle, Adrian Bernabe and Felix Nmecha – all figuring for the first team and regularly being invited to train with Pep Guardiola’s squad to help further their knowledge.

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Premier League 2

City ended 2020 sitting in third place in the Premier League 2 table and perfectly poised to kick on and launch a sustained assault for the title.

Lying just four points behind leaders Chelsea and with a crucial game in hand, Maresca’s men will be seeking to build on the momentum that saw us record a number of eye-catching results over the first half of the season.

A stunning 7-2 success at the then league leaders Liverpool was undoubtedly the highlight but there were several more notable results including back-to-back home wins over Arsenal (4-1) and Leicester (4-0).

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It’s also no coincidence that City have accumulated the highest number of goals (29) from our 10 games to fate, and also boast one of the best defensive records with just 19 goals conceded.

Even more encouragingly as we head into 2021, the Italian believes there is even more to come from his squad.

“We have reached a good position in the table and we want to maintain that position,” Maresca reflected ahead of the Christmas break.

“And I get the feeling we are on the right path.

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“We are becoming a team now – all of them are helping each other.

“There are many more things we can improve.

“But we understand we become a team by playing together and working together and I think we can do something important.”

UEFA Youth League

The advent of 2021 will also see City looking to mount a strong challenge in this season’s blue chip European youth tournament.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the format for the 2020/21 UEFA Youth League has been drastically altered.

Safety and logistical precautions meant that there has been no group stage this term.

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Instead, the competition will feature a straight single-legged knockout format from the round of 64, starting on 2 March with the first draw scheduled for 27 January.

In keeping with the regular format, the competition will then end with a knockout final four in Nyon on 17 and 20 May.

Semi-finalists in 2018, City’s youngsters have been met with frustration in Europe over the past two seasons failing to progress from the group stages.

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And Taylor Harwood-Bellis, says the squad are eager to atone for that this time around.

“Europe will also be massive for us next year,” declared the young central defender who signed a new long-term contract earlier this month.

“And we need to do well against the best teams in Europe and show everyone that Manchester City are up there with the best.”


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