Academy manager Alan Moore on a tough few weeks
Youth boss Alan Moore spoke about a period of disruption as his U18 side face a run of away games as they work hard to get things back to normal following Storm Desmond.
“I think the flooding has been more of a disruption for us than it’s been for the first team,” he said. “The first team are the priority so we fall onto the wayside a little bit. We lost all of our training kit and match kit and we also had issues getting our lads up here, with the trains being off.
“We ended up going six weeks without a game and, apart from this week, we haven't been able to train on grass since November. We've tried to keep the lads away from it and keep them ticking over as much as we could. We've been up to Annan and we've used local 3G pitches, so we're back into the swing of it.”
“It is a hindrance on their development but we were lucky enough to be able to postpone the Walsall and Shrewsbury games before Christmas,” he explained. “We've got the Shrewsbury game back into the schedule fairly quickly.
“We're now playing all of our games away from home, which is unusual for the lads, but it's part and parcel of being a footballer. The first team are doing a lot of miles this year and we're no different. I think we've got nine games on the bounce away from home.
“Even though we've had that period off we've still played more league games than anyone else. We expected a bit of rustiness when we came back and in the Port Vale game we looked like 11 strangers. We went 1-0 up and had a couple of chances, but the legs tired towards the end which was to be expected.”
“Wigan were miles better than us on the day,” he commented. “I think they're the best team I've seen this year at our level. They're top of the league for a reason and they've just beaten Derby in the youth cup. All the aspects of the game we're trying to achieve, they achieved it on the day.
“We didn't have any complaints from either the Shrewsbury or Accrington games. We had really good chances in both but we just didn’t take them. We hit the crossbar at Accrington and the performances in both games were good. The lads are doing what we're asking them to do and they’re working hard to keep possession of the football.
“We can put the first two games down to a bit of rustiness but we're back in the swing of things and there are no excuses now. We expected the group to hit the ground running when they came back, but that was probably a bit unrealistic with the break they had.”
“We put the pressure on the second years as soon as they came back after Christmas,” he said. “They know they need to perform, which is the same for any first team player on a Saturday. We'll continue to put the pressure on to see who steps up to the mark and who crumbles away.
“The next five or six weeks are a big test for them with the number of games we have. For the first years it's about developing, but it's all about kicking on for the second years.
"We'll give ourselves a bit more time to make the decisions because of the enforced break we’ve just been through. Over the two years the main thing you're looking for from young players is consistency.
“They will dip out of form and come back into it, so what we've got to look for is their potential with the ability they've got. You aren't only looking at how they're playing at this moment in time. You have to look at the potential they've got going forward.”
And there was good news for midfielder Joe Breen this week when he received a call-up to join the EIRE U17 squad at their training camp in two week’s time.
“Joe has been invited to train with the Irish squad down at QPR which is brilliant for him,” Moore said. “He'll go there with a view to staking a claim for selection for the Elite Phase games. It's brilliant for him and the club to get that he has managed to get that sort of recognition.”
United v Port Vale: Williams, Hurley, Pearson, Rudd (Hall 55), Douglas, Groves, Salkeld (Egan 65), Robson, Holt, Taylor (Brown 80), Bradbury. Subs - Bacon, Breen.
United v Wigan: Williams, Hurley, Pearson, Rudd (Salkeld 45), Douglas, Groves, Brown (Egan 60), Robson, Holt, Taylor, Hall (Breen 60).
United v Shrewsbury: Williams, Hurley, Groves (Egan 60), Taylor, Robson, Douglas, Rudd (Hall 70), Breen, Holt, Salkeld (Brown 75), Bradbury. Subs - Bacon.
Goal: Own goal
United v Accrington: Williams, Hurley, Douglas, Taylor, Robson, Bradbury, Quigley (Breen 60), Rudd (Brown 75), Egan (Pearson 80), Hall, Holt. Subs - Bacon, Groves.
United v Preston (YAC4): Bacon, Hurley, Douglas, Taylor, Robson, Bradbury, Quigley (Brown 80), Rudd (Pearson 53), Egan (Salkeld 65), Hall, Holt. Subs - Breen, Groves.
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