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YOUTH: As fit as they can be when they get back

27 April 2015

Reaction to the youth games against Wrexham and Burnley

Academy manager Alan Moore spoke to us about the close down to this season and looking forward to the new 2015/16 campaign.

"Our final league fixture was against Wrexham and it was disappointing," he said. "The lads did well the previous Saturday, so we're just trying to get some consistency. They played really well against Shrewsbury, without getting the result, but the performances in that game were good across the pitch.

"That wasn't the same for the Tuesday game at Wrexham. The lads fell well below standards. It's always tough going down there because they're in your face and physical. They can play football as well and we didn't match it on the day."

"We took a young team down there," he explained. "We had under-16s starting for us but they're all getting a feel for it now. That will benefit them when they come in to us full time next season. We want to try and get as many minutes under the belts of next year's group as we can, and that's the thinking behind the friendly games we've organised.

"We're trying to integrate next year's group and get a settled team. We've got another game this week at Middlesbrough which will be much the same. We've got a couple of trialists in and hopefully it will be as enjoyable as the Burnley game was last week.

"Burnley play the game in the right way and we always enjoy the games against them. It was a very even contest throughout and we got a lot out of it."

"We've just done the induction with the new intake," he explained. "They're all doing their exams, and they need to concentrate on that, but they've got to make sure they're fit and ready to go as soon as they get in the building for pre-season. 

"We've given them an off-season plan and we want them to be as fit as they can be so they aren't playing catch up when they come back.

"We're talking about having a pre-season with the first team and youth team together, so we've already spoken to our players about standing out and being noticed for doing the right things. They don't want to be getting noticed because they're at the back of the runs or giving the ball away cheaply. 

"If they do impress the chances are they can get a chance with the first team, like Matty Douglas did at the start of this season." 

"Pre-season will be like we used to do years ago," he explained. "We would all train together for the first couple of weeks and it's a real chance for the young lads to get noticed. 

"It's always interesting to see the condition the lads come back in. Even with next year's second years, we're expecting a lot of improvement when they get back because we've sat down and had conversations with them. Some of them might only get pre-season and then have to go and find something else to do."

"We've got targets, as you would expect, and I have to do an annual report to evaluate that," he commented. "We set ourselves a target with regards to the amount of professional contracts we get from the second years and we didn't meet it. 

"We also set a target of getting five lads from the under-16s into the under-18s and we only achieved three. Overall we fell below the targets we set, so that's something we have to go back and adjust so we can make sure it doesn't happen again next year.

"We're quite confident that it won't be the same because we're looking at a group which is working well together. That makes them stronger and we should reap the benefits of it further down the line. We've watched them quite a lot and they're a good group, so we're going to try and get them involved in pre-season as much as we can." 

On the club's first full season under the EPPP framework, he said: "We're getting to the end of the paperwork trail that comes with EPPP. We've had a lot to fill in over the last couple of months but we're now getting to the stage of sitting down and evaluating the whole season. 

"The EPPP has been very good for the young lads because they've been self-evaluating, and they've had a syllabus and training schedule to follow. I think it's been a massive improvement.

"It's upped the game of all of the coaching staff as well. They've had to make sure their sessions have been planned because we've been evaluating what they've been doing. 

"Everything has to be up to date because the lads are constantly getting feedback. We're trying to give them no excuses, whether it's video analysis, psychology or evaluating the full 90 minutes of the games they've played on the iPad. 

"They're getting the full package so they can't say they didn't get told something when they leave. Like I say, there are simply no excuses. The players get everything they need and it's up to them to take it all on board and improve themselves."

On the summer break, he said: "You do look forward to getting away for a short time but the work never stops. We have to close off the remainder of the administration work for this season and then prepare for next season, so we'll be in and out of the office. 

"You do get to a stage in the year where you're planning ahead and we've already settled on the formation we want to play with the strengths we think we've got in the side. We're really excited about how it's going to go next season because we think we've got some really exciting players coming in."

United v Wrexham: Fowler, Hurley, McCue (Salkeld, 46), Wallace, Douglas, Robson, Egan (Holt, 60), Taylor, Rudd, Hammell, Bradbury. Sub: Groves.

United Player subscribers can see a video interview with Alan Moore now. Click HERE to go to the Player platform. Follow the same link for more information on United Player, and to subscribe.

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