Academy manager Alan Moore on the Blackpool and Fleetwood games
Youth manager Alan Moore spoke to us about the excellent recent performances against Blackpool and Fleetwood.
“The last two performances have been really pleasing,” he said. “The second half down at Blackpool last Saturday was particularly pleasing because we were outstanding, to a man.
“We penned them in and I don’t think Danny [Eccles] has had a save to make during the last two games. That shows how much work is going on in front of him.
“The lads tired a bit, because they hadn’t played for a few weeks, but you’d expect that. They’ve got a run of games coming up on Tuesday – Saturday – Tuesday and that will do them the world of good.”
“We have lost a few games to postponements through January and it can be hard for the lads to keep going through that,” he added. “They’ve trained all week to get to a Friday, only to find out the game is off.
“You can see the mood in the changing room drop when that happens. They’ve actually been lucky because we’ve gone 11 weeks without a game before at this stage of the season. Blackpool have been able to play a few games so we knew they’d have match fitness. We worked hard and the lads did everything we asked of them.”
“We had some fantastic performances from our second years, in particular, who are obviously making a claim for contracts at the moment,” he told us. “We work the lads hard, whether there’s a game or not, and some of them have been involved with the Development Squad to get minutes under their belts.
“Another pleasing thing was we gave them a tough session on Monday, and the reaction to that was another excellent performance against Fleetwood on Tuesday. At the moment we’re seeing that every player is working hard to improve, and that’s all we can ask.
“They took it into the Fleetwood game and we’ve all seen the first goal was an outstanding team goal. They got it down, played out from the back, moved it through the thirds with little one-two touches, and it was good to watch.
“It’s something we’ve done in the Neil Centre for a few weeks now. They’ve been told to keep shifting the ball, and to wait for the gaps, because eventually they’ll find a way through.”
“We’re trying to get them into situations where they have to use the football, and that includes playing out from the back,” he explained. “If they make a mistake at this level it isn’t the end of the world, it’s about getting them used to being on the ball.
“After the very good first half we told them it would be completely different after the break. We knew they would go a bit more direct and it was important for us to stay disciplined and keep our shape. That was the case, but they saw it out and they still managed to protect their goal.”
“We have a bit of distance to travel for Saturday and Walsall are always a strong team,” he said. “They played well up here, but we’ll be looking to continue the work we’ve been doing.
“The second years obviously know how important this stage of the season is and you can see their mood go up and down because of that. We had Jack, our psychologist, with us on Tuesday and he spoke to certain players during the game.
“It’s invaluable for the lads to have these people around on a match day and not just away from the pitch because it can help to give them a little lift at times when they probably need it. They’re all working towards decision time and they know that usually comes around Easter time. I’m sure there’ll be more nerves to come.”
And on the recruitment of first years for next season, he said: “We’ll be going to the exit trials next Tuesday, in Hull, to have a look at what is there.
“We’ve got seven lads coming in to play a game next Thursday, with it being half term, and we’ve already agreed to take a centre back, who has been with a Premier League club, and who has turned them down to come to us.
“We need to sign another two, but that’s an ongoing process, and things are already looking good for next year.”
United v Blackpool - Eccles, Hurley, Marshall, White, Douglas, Robson, Moyes (Pearson 65), Hammell, Hall (Quigley 75), Blackburn, Bradbury (Taylor 78). Subs - Fowler, Rudd.
Goal - Douglas
United v Fleetwood - Eccles, Hurley, Marshall, White, Douglas, Robson, Quigley (Moyes 78), Hammell (Taylor 78), Hall, Blackburn, Elliott (Bradbury 70). Subs - Fowler, Rudd.
Goals - Hammell, Hall
Next up - Walsall v United, saturday 14 February, kick off 12pm