United’s under-18 side recorded a convincing victory against Oldham last weekend, and we caught up with youth boss Eric Kinder to get his reaction to the game.
“I’ve said this before, and it’s something I spoke to the staff about after the game, is it me being too harsh, because I’m not happy,” he said. “I thought we defended poorly even though we were 4-0 up at half time.
“If Oldham had taken their chances it could easily have been 4-3 or even 4-4. When you look at the whole picture of that first half it was great to see goals going in and six different scorers, and it was good to see the way we played going forward, but defensively we weren’t at it.
“I keep telling the lads that I’m never going to be satisfied but I think you have to be like that. If you walk in and say everything is great then you’ll never improve. I won’t have that because I know we can improve massively.”
“Like I say, the way we got our goals was good to watch,” he added. “I’ve said for a while that a day when we scored that number of goals has been coming.
“We attack well as a team so you’re always going to get a day where everything will go in. We haven’t scored as many goals as we should have this season but we’ve got a centre forward who we pin our hopes on, and there’s plenty of other people in the side who are capable of getting them as well.
“Some of our set pieces were really good and that always gives you a chance. When you’ve won a corner or a free kick it then has to be put in properly, and in Lewis Bell and Charlie Watt we’ve got people who can put it where they want to put it.
“As long as you work on them during the week, and as long as you have a corner taker who can drop it where you want it, then it comes down to the players getting their runs right. That’s particularly the case with a side like us because we have some big lads who have a real presence.
“Everybody comments on our size when they see us running out and it does help when it comes to set pieces. I’ve been impressed with how we’ve coped with set plays at both ends so far this season.”
Very noticeable last Saturday was the vocal approach taken by many of the players out on the pitch.
“That’s all part of the learning process,” he explained. “We try to encourage the lads to demand more off their team mates without anybody taking it personally.
“It’s easy for a 16 or 17-year old lad to take a comment coming from somebody his own age the wrong way, and young lads are like that.
“I’ve worked with players this age for a long time and I know how they tick, how they think, and what they do and don’t like. They don’t like constructive criticism, in fact they don’t like criticism at all, they can’t handle it.
“They have to learn how to cope with it because nobody likes to be told they’re doing something wrong or that what they’re doing could be better. As I said to them at half time, criticism only stings if there’s an element of truth in it, so if you’ve reacted to a comment just stop and have a think because there might be something in it that’s true.
“Part of growing up is being able to react in the right way when you have received criticism because it’s something they’ll have to put up with in life as well, and it usually comes when somebody is trying to help them.”
The win against Oldham kept an unbeaten run going which has seen the lads play some good football along the way.
“The lads told me it’s five now but, again looking at the whole picture, I think we’ve had some indifferent performances in amongst it all,” he commented. “We were really poor at Rochdale when we gave away a two-goal lead to end up drawing the game, and we haven't managed to find the right level of consistency.
“We came close to it last Saturday, so hopefully we’re getting there. It’s a busy month leading up to Christmas then the lads get a bit of a break. It’s three league games and a massive cup game that could take us into the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup, and I’ve always said that if you’re in that competition in the New Year then it’s always exciting.”
The week ahead for United sees them face Tranmere on Saturday and then it’s into that FA Youth Cup meeting with Blackburn in midweek.
“It’s not the worst trip we have,” he said. “We’ll set off at the same time and the lads are used to this. The only away trips that are a test in terms of travel are Shrewsbury and Walsall, because that is a long way.
“We’re going on a Saturday this year, which is easier going and coming back than it is on a Friday, and hopefully we’ll play well and set ourselves up nicely for the cup game.
“Obviously we’ll look to avoid injuries, hopefully come out of it feeling good about ourselves, and then let’s have a go at a Category 1 club and let’s see how close we are to them.”
United - Robinson, Steele, Barnett, Day, Kilsby, Ellis (Taylor 56), Leslie (c), Walton, Garvey (Watt 65), Bell, Fishburn (Rooks 83). Subs - Breeze, Simons.
Goals - Garvey (4), Fishburn (15), Barnett (27), Steele (31), Bell (77), Watt (87)