Pre-season officially got under way yesterday for Patrick Vieira's EDS.
Although the scoreline went against the new EDS manager, there is no trace of concern across the coaching staff.
At least not beyond their understandable disappointment at losing a game the Blues dominated until the very last minute of play.
With a liberal approach to substitutions and a dose of experimentation with different team shapes, the EDS encounter against NK Osijek was very much an exercise in getting vital minutes into legs.
Patrick Vieira spoke in his post-match interview about the real business starting on 10 August when City start their Barclays u21 Premier League campaign and we congratulated him on a promising team performance and reminded him that some of the greatest managers of all-time have lost their first friendly.
The best takeaway for Vieira will surely be the performances of Jack Byrne, Tosin Adarabioyo, Thierry Ambrose, Brandon Barker and Dom McHale who, to use Patrick’s words, “played with personality” against players up to five years their senior.
Fortunately, the players are already experienced enough to know that a friendly is a friendly and the loss did nothing to damage the harmonious atmosphere in the camp but still, I get the sense that Friday can’t come soon enough for some of the contingent!
Not least, Patrick and his coaching staff, it must be said…
Lower down the age-groups, the trip has been a great opportunity to check on the progress of some of the younger members of the traveling party.
I was fortunate enough to travel with the under-15s to Singapore for the Canon Lion City Cup in June 2012 and some of those lads have made that step up into under-18 football already.
Yvan Wassi, Tom Holland and David Brooks (pictured top) all featured in that tournament and are here in Croatia which can only be good news for the Academy’s development plan.
A morning session in the gym for the EDS worked out the post-match aches and strains before an afternoon of free time for the older members of the squad and education for the younger boys.
It might be the summer holidays back home, but there’s no break from the books for those still in education here in Croatia…
This evening’s training sessions kicked off at 5pm but it wasn’t as if the later start gave any relief from the searing temperatures.
We looked in on the under-18s’ session on the pitch next to the EDS initially and got the opportunity to catch up with manager Jason Wilcox, who shared his enthusiasm for his new role and filled us in on his work with the Academy over the past two years.
That interview is coming up on City TV this week, so make sure you keep checking the site as the former Blackburn and Leeds United man has some really fascinating insights for any supporter keen to learn more about the future of the club.
After watching some highly competitive head tennis on the under-18s pitch, I made my way back to the EDS just in time for the arrival of the NK Novigrad juniors.
These youngsters were treated to an entertaining skills masterclass led by MCFC’s own Kristian Wilson and assisted by members of the EDS squad.
It was interesting to see which players looked most comfortable with this detail as it’s rare to see the boot on the other foot and I noted that Wato (pictured below), Albert Rusnak, Mathias Bossaerts, Kieran Kennedy and Seko Fofana looked in their element sharing their skills with these local young tykes.
A gruelling double training session lies ahead tomorrow and goalkeeper coach Dave Felgate is threatening to put me before the firing squad between the sticks at the end of the afternoon.
Better get an early night, then.