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YOUTH: We asked for something different

5 December 2014

Alan Moore on the Port Vale game

Academy manager Alan Moore spoke to us about last weekend's home victory over Port Vale as the youth team prepare for Saturday's away trip to Morecambe.

"We played really well in the first half," he said. "We created a lot of chances, which we also did the week before, and went into half time 2-0 up. We then asked them to do something different at half time and see the game out.

"The game was end to end in the first half so we asked them to keep possession and try and kill the game off. We wanted them to tidy things up, so we didn't concede, and we needed them to stop being so open. We conceded early in the second half so the lads struggled to adapt to what we'd asked them to do.

"They weren't sure when to go forward and when to keep possession of the ball, but that's something they'll have to learn when they play first team football. If you go in 2-0 up you'll be expected to see out the game in the second half, so we are asking them to do different things. We're challenging them physically and mentally." 

"There were stages in the first half where we had one full back crossing the ball and the other one on the end of it. That's because we created so many chances. We asked the full backs to stay narrow and compact in the second half and we asked the midfielders to sit in front of them.

"We ended up a bit muddled when we had possession of the football because they didn't seem to have a purpose. When you keep possession of the ball you have to have a purpose to everything you do. 

"We learned a lot about them because we asked the lads to do something that wasn't natural. Kids just want to run and score goals then think about defending, but we need to get them to understand the game more." 

"We could have scored five or six goals in the first half," he told us. "The two goals we did score were two good finishes from Connor [Hammell] and Jack [Elliott]. It was quite a one sided game in the first half but we were still quite open. We asked them to make sure they got something out of the game.

"We could have played the same way in the second half and won 4-0, and probably not got a lot out of it, so we challenged them and learned a lot. The confidence is high, we're playing well and creating chances, but we're going to stay focused on the development."

"We threw in another different challenge in the Bury game which the lads adapted to after 15 minutes," he commented. "They were different class after that so we need to keep challenging them to do different things and to keep improving.

"We've got a run of three away games before Christmas now and that's something else for the lads to deal with. We've got Shrewsbury away, which is an 11am kick off, so we'll need to leave at about half five on Friday night for that one! It'll be interesting to see how they cope and prepare themselves for difficult circumstances like that." 

And on the U17 game against Newcastle on Tuesday, he said: "I like to have a midweek U17 game and the bigger academies have been fantastic in helping us out with them. 

"We've played Newcastle twice in the last couple of weeks, and we've played Sunderland and Middlesbrough. It gives the bigger academies the chance to get some of their players playing 90 minutes because they tend to have much bigger squads. 

"For us, it gives us the chance to give our first years 90 minutes and it means I can have a look at the U16s we're considering for next season." 

"The U16s have plenty of games but it's important to see what they do in a higher standard of game. If they do join us next year they'll be playing against players who are a year older. 

"The games are massive, we drew 1-1 with Newcastle on Tuesday, and they're obviously finding them very helpful as well because they've asked us to go back across there after Christmas." 

"The process of recruiting players for the youth team next year has already started. We've got Max Brown signed up, he's a centre forward, and we've offered another striker scholarship terms this week. That process has been going on for quite a few weeks. I've been watching our U16s and other teams closely so we're always thinking about the next group."

United - Fowler, Quigley, Hurley, Taylor, Robson, Marshall, Moyes, White, Blackburn (Bradbury 75), Hammell, Elliott. Subs - Burgess, Holt, Rudd, Brown.

Goals - Hammell, Elliott.

Next up - Morecambe v United, Saturday 6 December, kick off 11am

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