EDS & Academy

Davies targets improvements after last eight win

Simon Davies was philosophical in victory after Manchester City U19s overcame Liverpool on penalties to reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Youth League.

The manger was proud of the way in which his players battled in a tough encounter that saw the opposition enjoy spells of real dominance, but felt his side could have been more positive in possession.

It finished 1-1 during a 90 minutes in which Lukas Nmecha equalised after Curtis Jones had finished off an electric counter-attack to give Liverpool the lead.

And in the shoot-out, Daniel Grimshaw was the hero again, saving twice to send City through and though pleased with the result, Davies felt his team have had better days.

“It was good enough and I congratulated the players on reaching the semi-finals for the first time,” he said after the game.

“But I thought we could have been braver.

“Liverpool put us under real pressure and when that happens you have to stand up to it and have personality on the ball.

“It’s not easy and Liverpool did extremely well so they deserve credit, but I expected more from our players.”

Nmecha’s equaliser, on the stroke of half-time, allowed City to go in level at the break despite the visitors enjoying the best of the play in the first period.

Bobby Adekanye and Liam Millar on either flank were central to that as they led from the front, pressing City high up the pitch and giving them no time to settle.

But, galvanised by the skipper’s leveller and a team-talk in which Davies’ admits he tried to instil more belief in his players, the youngsters improved after the break and created several chances in the second half.

And though it was a performance which lacked the usual tempo, the manager was pleased to see his side play with a grit and determination that he believes is just as much a trademark as free-flowing possession football.

“At half-time we spoke about playing with a bit more pride and belief so they could show what they were about and in the second half they were much better,” he added.

“We had chances where we should have maybe pinched the game, but they’ve had a couple too and a set-piece where they could have scored.

“There’s no doubting the grit within this group. We just needed a little bit more personality on the ball.

“Without the ball they dug in and worked hard, but that was never in doubt and that’s a credit to them.

"I was just disappointed with the way we moved the ball and the tempo we did that at.”