Reflecting on August’s EDS performances, it has certainly been an interesting opening month for us.
Our opening match at home to the reigning Premier League 2 champions Arsenal at the Academy Stadium was a crazy game.
We’d only had a couple of days working with the players going into the match and it was a real end-to-end affair with goals going in left, right and centre and no shortage of incidents before we secured a 6-5 win.
That was followed by our first away trip at West Ham where we should really have run out as comfortable victors but ended up winning 6-4 after getting a little bit too relaxed after half-time.
Next up was a league game at the Etihad Stadium against Liverpool ahead of our first Checkatrade Trophy group match away at Shrewsbury which both proved to very different types of challenges.
They were much tighter affairs, each ending 1-1, and I thought that they were really valuable tests for our players, especially the Checkatrade clash against what was effectively Shrewsbury’s first team.
I believe the Checkatrade is a valuable competition for us and I like the fact that it gives our young players the type of experience they wouldn’t usually be exposed to.
For our players, who are predominantly aged 17 or 18, coming up against a much older, more experienced Shrewsbury squad was a massive test but I thought the players did well on the night, even though we went down 3-1 on penalties after drawing 1-1.
Unfortunately, August ended with a bad result away at Brighton. We went down to 10 men with injuries and it was a tough night all round as we lost out 5-0. We needed to show a bit more resilience down there but that is all part of the learning curve for these young players.
So, it has proved to be a real mixed bag. There have been several positives but there are also a number of areas that we know we need to improve upon.
Over the past few days we have been reflecting on the first month with the players on a one-to-one basis.
It has certainly been a challenge, not least for some of our young Spanish boys who are having to adapt to a different style of game.
By and large the squad have been playing against opponents who are two or three years older than them.
I think we have done well up to a point but there is still much more to come and it’s up to us to keep driving things forward.
Injuries are a part and parcel of the game and we have suffered on that score too but, hopefully, we can get some bodies back soon.
So, it has been a busy start and, looking forward, it’s only going to get even more hectic.
In between Premier League games against Spurs, Derby and Swansea along with a Checkatrade Trophy trip to Crewe, September sees us also begin our UEFA Youth League schedule at home to Lyon.
The games will come thick and fast once the current international break is over.