Youth coach Vince Overson gave us a run down of the Tranmere and Rochdale games from the last ten days.
“It’s been a frustrating period for us,” he said. “We lost the game against Tranmere but it was actually a very good game of football with some good stuff played by both teams.
“We got everything we demanded from the players for the majority of the 90 minutes. The difference in playing ability between the sides was marginal. The one thing I would say in terms of the result, and probably the reason why we didn’t get anything from the game, was they worked just that little bit harder than we did at key stages.
“For some periods they ran further than we did and they closed down faster. They picked up a lot of the second balls but, having said that, we’re talking about very fine margins in that game.”
“The Tranmere goal came from one daft error,” he added. “That was frustrating for us. They had a threat with a big strong striker, but we knew that before we went into it. We prepared the lads with what to expect and it was a sloppy mistake which let them nick it, to be honest.
“Hopefully we’ll learn from that because errors in the final third tend to cost you. The message we give to our defenders is that they need to be strong, reliable and dependable. If the ball has to go 90 yards into the trees and woodland, do it. If the opportunity is there to play football, take it. There’s a time to play and a time to clear the lines.
“With the Tranmere goal the wrong option was chosen. We tried to play football instead of getting rid of it and we paid the price.”
“We were disappointed for the players more than anything else with the end result of the game,” he admitted. “They followed their instructions as a team and as individuals and they showed they’d taken all the information on board. To lose it late in the day like that makes it hard for them to take. However, there were a lot of real positives and we took a lot of plus points out of it.”
“The Rochdale game was a complete contrast, it has to be said,” he admitted. “It wasn’t pleasant to watch from either team. I spoke to their coach Tony Ellis after the game and even he said it wasn’t pretty to watch.
“The pitch wasn’t the best but that was the same for both sides. It was difficult for anyone to try and get the ball down and play football but, putting that aside, we played far too many long balls. There was a lot of panic in our defensive areas and we started missing the midfield out of it for very long periods.
“When you play balls over heads like that it becomes impossible for the midfield lads to get forward and support the strikers. That means they don’t get on the ball and it comes back at you very quickly. From our point of view, we’re not a long ball side by any stretch of the imagination. We didn’t enjoy the fact that we decided to play the game in that way.
“Rochdale worked hard to close us down, we have to credit them with that, but we didn’t do enough to impose ourselves. You’re going to get this level of inconsistency from young players because we’ve handled it in previous games. There’s no excuse I can find for how we ended up playing this one.
“There was an element of panic and that’s something they have to learn from as well. They have to be comfortable in possession against teams who come to get close to them. That’s what football is all about.”
On another goal for attacking midfielder Jordan Holt, he said: “Jordan is showing us he has goals in him. He works extremely hard and he made this goal for himself. It was a poor back pass to the keeper and he closed it down very quickly.
“He’s an aggressive player and he isn’t one who will back out. The keeper went to clear it and he managed to get a block on it. Fortunately for him it shot into the top corner and, as I say, he does pop up every now and then with a goal.”
And on the way forward, he said: “What we need to start seeing now is some self belief. When we get that we’ll start to see the consistency we keep talking about. It’s mistake management more than anything else at this age.
“We’re seeing at the moment that mistakes made are playing on minds. Instead of dealing with it and moving on they’re dwelling on it. All that does is lead to another mistake. We keep reminding them that it’s their human right to make a mistake. What matters is how they handle it.
“What you can’t do is mope around and sulk about it. You have to accept it and get your concentration back so that you can become an effective team player again. Young players tend to beat themselves up mentally and that’s something you have to work hard at to get out of them. They can’t stop caring, that’s not what we’re after at all, but they have to know when it’s time to reflect and when it’s time to just get on with it.”
United v Tranmere – Bacon, Hurley, Pearson, Holt (Egan 60), Douglas, Robson, Taylor, Rudd (Breen 85), Hall (Brown 80), Salkeld, Bradbury. Subs – Fowler, McCue.
United v Rochdale – Bacon, Hurley, pearson, Breen (Holt 54), Douglas, Robson, Taylor, Rudd, Hall (McCue 80), Salkeld, Bradbury (Egan 65). Subs – Fowler, Brown.
Goal - Holt