Patrick Vieira believes City fans have every reason to be excited about the talent emerging from City’s youth production line.
On the eve of the new campaign, the EDS manager has spoken of the fantastic prospects currently being educated at the City Football Academy – and he underlined that many of the players making up the Academy sides hail from Greater Manchester and the surrounding areas.
The Frenchman told mcfc.co.uk: “I think it is right for the fans to be excited. There is nothing more important for the fans than seeing young players coming through and playing for the first team, especially when they are local like Evo [George Evans].
“That is what we are working for and hopefully in the next few years we will have more because when you look at the u14s, u16s, and u18s as well as the EDS, we have some fantastic young talent at this club.
“The scouting department has been working really well because now all the young talents in this area want to come to Manchester City and that shows we are doing the right thing.”
Now beginning his third year in charge of the EDS, Vieira takes his young side to the South Coast on Monday night to face Southampton in the opening game of their u21 Premier League campaign.
It is the first of four competitions that City will be competing in at EDS level, and a first chance to lay down a marker for a team that lifted the International Premier League Cup last term – the first trophy of Vieira’s tenure.
However, while he admits he was delighted for his players to cap the 2014/15 campaign with a medal, his biggest highlight of the last 12 months was watching from afar as a plethora of EDS regulars shone for the first team on pre-season tour of Australia and Vietnam.
“It was really good to win something last year but the biggest trophy is the 15 boys who went on pre-season with the first team, and the trophy is watching Evans, watching Manu playing with the first team and doing really well.
“That is our target and it makes us really happy that we are doing well and something is going right here.
“But of course it was really good for the players to win something because they worked really hard and it was fantastic that it was rewarded with silverware, which is the end product for a player.
“But the main focus continues to be having players with the first team.”
While Vieira cautions that youth success won’t happen overnight, he is delighted with the progress shown this summer by the youngsters who were selected to make the trip.
The World Cup Winner was keen to pour water on any media suggestions that young players won’t get those chances to impress in a City shirt after a pre-season in which 16-year-old Cameron Humphreys played against Real Madrid in front of 100,000 people.
Said Vieira: “People say when you are young you don’t have a chance at Manchester City, but it is wrong. They gave them a chance to show what they are capable of and then when you have a chance you have to take it.
“When we are talking about developing players it takes time, especially when you have the first team we have with so much talent and so many quality players. But going with the first team in the pre-season, playing well and having excellent feedback from the first team staff is really positive.”
Vieira’s attacking, attractive philosophy mirrors the style expected of first teamers at the Etihad Stadium.
As a manager charged with player progress, he maintains style over substance – but that is unlikely to change as his career develops.
“My philosophy and the philosophy of the football club is to try and play very good football, create chances, play with no fear, not be scared to make a decision and play with personality,” Vieira declared.
“They will make mistakes and that is not a problem at all, the more they make mistakes the more they will learn.”
His young cohort will aim to emulate the magnificent career Vieira enjoyed, when he lifted 14 major trophies at club level and added the World Cup and European Championship with France, but the players would also do well to mirror his attitude to continuous development in his career as boss.
He expects to keep improving, but while remaining true to himself rather than trying to copy any of his peers.
“You are learning every day,” he revealed. “I am never satisfied, but through the years after a training session, I sit with my staff and talk about what went well and what can improve – all these small meetings we have make us better and make me better.
“I think I am more patient than I used to be in the first year! But I really enjoy it and I love it now more than the first day I started because I have really good people around me.
“We have the same way of thinking and work ethic, we want to improve the boys, want them to be successful and we all work hard at it.”
He added: “I will continue to improve because I am just at the start of my career but I am the same person as I was.
“I believe it is important not to try and be somebody else but to stay true to myself and the way I work. If I can do that, find in myself the way I want to manage then I will be a better manager.”
In the more immediate future, Southampton present the first challenge of a packed season programme and Vieira is raring to go again and get down to the main course after the appetiser of a rather disjointed pre-season.
“I am really excited because pre-season is too long,” he laughed. “I’ve never been a fan of pre-season but it’s important to do it, and I just want the league to start to see if the players understood what we have been working on.
“The players can’t wait to get going because that is what it is all about, training hard and getting fit so you are ready to play games, and now I’m really looking forward to the first game against Southampton.”