City under-18s Coach Adam Sadler was in a positive mood despite City’s 1-0 defeat to Benfica at Caixa Futebol Campus near Lisbon on Sunday.
An unfortunate 80th minute Billy O’Brien own goal denied City what would have been a deserved draw in this friendly match which was the second fixture of the Blues’ pre-season tour.
“This was a great opportunity for our lads to come out and play against a really top Academy and play against a team that plays with a very different style and for that reason, it was really pleasing to get some of the younger players on the pitch in the second half for their development,” said Sadler.
The under-18s manager also heaped praise on his Bury-born goalkeeper, Billy O’Brien, who recently signed on as a first-year scholar.
Billy made two outstanding saves and, while I never want to rely on a goalkeeper to keep us in a game, he was fantastic when he was called upon, making, what on another day, would have been game-winning saves.
...Sadler on O'Brien's performance...
“On the free-kick that led to the goal I thought George Swan was called over by the referee after his foul but from there were caught out just a little bit and Billy was so unfortunate to see the ball come back off the post onto him but obviously no blame should be attached to him.”
George Swan was again a tower of strength in the backline, providing a vocal presence and the kind of organisation and leadership that the footballing world is coming to expect from a Manchester City captain.
“There are a lot of positives we can take from the game – it was a really young team that was playing, especially the one that ended the match - we were quite unlucky to lose 1-0 but I think we have a really good team capable of challenging for the league title this season,” said the Yorkshireman.
Manchester City are one of the biggest clubs in the world now, so to be captain at any age-group is a massive honour and I’m someone who likes to take responsibility on their shoulders
City take on Sporting Lisbon in the final match of their pre-season tour on Tuesday at 19:00 – expect a report on the site shortly after full-time.