By any measure, City’s Under 18s had just cause to reflect with enormous pride on their progress in 2020.
Though the year presented huge challenges – not least in the wake of the devastating global COVID-19 pandemic which led to a six-month hiatus in action - the City youngsters emerged from 12 months like no other with huge collective credit.
Going unbeaten in the calendar year was a tremendous achievement – and, not surprisingly, that remarkable record, was rewarded in the form of silverware aplenty.
In the last game we played before the suspension of action in early March of last year, we retained our Premier League Under-18 Cup in formidable fashion, recording a dominant 6-0 win over Stoke’s Under-18s in the final.
In the wake of last spring’s initial lockdown, City were then duly awarded both the Under-18 Premier League North and overall Premier League titles on a points per game basis.
By the time Academy football resumed in late summer, there was a new look both to City’s squad and coaching team with Carlos Vicens, promoted from assistant to head coach in the wake of Gareth Taylor’s move to become manager of our women’s team.
Though there was a new figure at the helm, our impressive results continued apace and were mirrored by a continued commitment to brand of exciting, attacking football with the accent of possession and fluid movement.
And that gained further reward in November when City’s Under-21s secured the 2020 FA Youth Cup in thrilling fashion, recording a memorable 3-2 final win over Chelsea with the tournament having reconvened at St George’s Park.
The squad have thrived on the ideas and philosophy of Vicens and his coaching team.
And a group of exciting young players look ideally poised to kick on in 2021 and further develop their rich potential
UNDER-18 PREMIER LEAGUE
City ended 2020 sitting in third place in the Under-18 Premier League North table and in prime position to kick on and launch a sustained assault for the title.
Though lying six points behind leaders Manchester United, with a crucial game in hand, Vicens’ youngsters will be looking to pick up where they left off when the league programme resumes later this month.
There was no end of impressive results in the first half of the season – including a 2-1 win over United at the CFA and an equally impressive 3-1 success away at second-placed Liverpool.
Even more encouragingly as we head into 2021, Vicens believes there is even more to come from his squad.
“I think overall it (the first half of the season) has been quite good, considering overall we have a really young squad which started with just one second year until Oscar Bobb started playing for us recently,” the Spaniard reflected.
“Also, considering that the squad is not very big in terms of numbers and we have had some important players out injured for a while, like Mikki Van Sas in goal, Juan Larios, who has played just two and half games, Harvey Griffiths and Carlo Borges had to miss some time and Liam Smith is injured.
“Considering all these factors, I am happy with the level of football we have achieved.
“We have had some really impressive performance and in terms of results we have done quite well. We’re unbeaten so far. We won against Liverpool and United in tough games, so I am quite pleased.
“But one of the things we always speak about and that we need to improve in the second half of the season is how consistently we show our best level.
“Every player develops at a different pace, but in terms of development I think we are where we should be. I am expecting them to show a better level of understanding of what we want to achieve and to focus on the consistency of their performances in the second half of the season.
“I’m pleased with what we’ve done, but I want to see more.”
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