Three weeks have already flown by since 18-year-old Villa striker Brad Young teamed up on a season-long loan deal with the Blues and, with three appearances already under his belt – one of them in front of one thousand travelling fans at Hartlepool – he admitted this week, when we finally found the time to introduce him to the press, that he’d settled in quite nicely in his new surroundings.
“I like it here,” he confirmed. “It’s a good group of lads, the coaching’s good and the facilities are all good.
“With the football side of it everyone’s technically good on the ball, it’s always physical, so it’s a good challenge and good for my experience to be here.
“Obviously I’m living away from home for the first time, which is different. When I first came here I was cooking for the first time in my life, I’d normally get my mum to do it all. But I’m getting there.
“I made fish and noodles for my first meal but I couldn’t even work the oven. I had to phone my mum and ask her and it took about half an hour to get it done. It tasted alright in end, I suppose, not as good as my mum’s though.”
On how the move came about, he told us: “I heard of a couple of clubs were interested, Carlisle was one of them. I played an under-23s game, first game of the season on the Friday, scored two goals and my agent rang me after the game at about 10pm on the night saying that Carlisle wanted me.
“He said they wanted me to travel up on the Monday and sign the paperwork to join them. It didn’t take much thinking about. I saw the football Carlisle play, they like playing it in behind, and that’s how I play, that’s my game, so I thought it was the perfect move.
“Plus it gives me the chance to be patient and get into the team. I basically just want to show everyone that I’m at this level in my career, still a young lad, but I can score goals in League Two and can play men’s football.
“Before I came here, the gaffer was talking to me about how he likes to play it in behind and that suits me. I like to run in behind, I can come and get it to my feet and I don’t mind that, but the majority of what I do is running in behind.
“The manager has talked to me about it and it’s amazing to know he believes in me. Everywhere you go you’ve got to have your manager’s back and he’s got to have your back. For him to trust me is good, I’ve just got to prove it now.”
And it goes without saying that the step-up from under-23 football to League Two has provided an immediate and steep learning curve.
“It’s quite difficult, to be honest,” he said. “The football in League Two compared to Aston Villa under-23s is very physical, long balls, it’s not really like playing out from the back, tiki taka, it’s a more physical side of the game.
“People love leaving one in on you, so I did the same when I played at Port Vale. All the lads were saying that the gaffer likes it when the physical lads leave a challenge on someone, so I thought I might as well do a bit of it on my debut.
“That’s what I do in any game. The difference here is you’re playing against 6ft 5in defenders, and some of them had had over 200 appearances, so you’ve got to be a lot more physical.
“That’s the type of player I am, I like the ball in behind, rat about, pressing, everything. It’s good, it gets me ready for the future where I could be in the next couple of years. It’s good experience under my belt.”
With the start in the Papa John’s Trophy and the appearances from the bench against Hartlepool and Port Vale in the league already notched up, it stands to reason that he now just wants more of the same.
“I don’t really get nervous before I play, I enjoy it too much,” he commented. “I just clear my mind, don’t think about it. If I’m about to come on the pitch I just think I need to play my normal game.
“Like I say, added to that now is the need to be more physical. It’s quite tough coming on in a game with 10-20 minutes to go. When you’re coming on at that time and winning or losing you just have to run around and try to be an influence.
“Everything about it is so intense. But when you’re winning the crowd’s excellent here, and so loud. It makes you want to be out there. To get that I know I’ve just got to earn the manager’s trust, really.
“When he puts me on or starts me, he’s got to know I’m going to run about and get the job done. I’ve got to earn that trust from now and with every chance I get.
“He called me for a chat yesterday [Monday] and he told me again to just be patient, when you get your opportunity, take it. I’ll be patient, hopefully get into the starting team soon and when the opportunity comes, try to grab it with both hands.”
Looking back at his route to Villa Park, he explained that it hadn’t all been plain sailing, with a significant chunk of his teenage spent away from the academy systems as he sorted out his priorities.
“I’m from Chelmsley Wood which is about 15 minutes away from the Aston Villa training ground,” he said. “I’m a Villa fan but I was at West Brom from the age of 6 to 13.
“At the time, when I was younger, Villa and Baggies wanted me, but my dad made the decision for me based on the better facilities and training programme at West Brom.
“Villa only used to play games with those age groups at that stage.”
But he revealed that he needed to take a step back, prompted by West Brom’s decision to release him based on his own attitude, in order to rediscover the love for a game that had started to become a slog rather than something to enjoy.
“It was my own fault that I got released,” he confirmed. “I had kind of behaviour issues back then. I fell out of love with the game, felt like it was too serious, and I was just a young kid at the time. I’d stopped enjoying it.
“I went back into Saturday and Sunday leagues for a year, just smashed it there and ended up getting scouted for Villa and a couple of other clubs. But Villa was local, and I supported them, so that’s where I went.
“That year out of the academy system definitely helped. I was only a young kid, all I wanted to do was play football and it was too serious. Having a little break made it become about having a bit of fun again and I got back into it.
“I think it opened up my eyes after going back into Saturday and Sunday football. I was loving it, scoring loads and I realised it was what I wanted to do for my future.
“That made me grow up a bit, even though I was still young. I new I needed to take the chance Villa had offered me. It was the team I supported as well, and when I was younger I wanted to go there but my dad did think West Brom would develop me better.
“When I found out Villa wanted me, I went straight there. I didn’t bother going to another club. I was a lot more mature as well. At West Brom, loads of stuff was going on at school, behaviour problems, but then I just focused myself, got back into it and mainly just stuck to football.
“That spell out taught me that you’ve always got to play with a smile on your face. If you do that you play your best football. If you lose your head and are angry about something, it’s not going to go your way.”
His time with the Villans has already thrown up some fantastic experiences, including a stunning FA Youth Cup finale winner’s medal.
“That was amazing,” he told us. “It’s the biggest youth trophy that you can win, and before, a year ago, we used to talk about it at Villa as a group - imagine winning that cup.
“Then we went and done it, it was superb. There were 5,000 Villa fans and it felt like 20,000, they were loud. That got us going and got me going.
“Then there was a mad couple of days when the team got Covid and we played Liverpool in the FA Cup. We only found out that we were playing literally a day before. First we were told a couple of players had it, next thing you know academy manager was saying a couple of players might be playing in the game, and then he called us in again and said the whole team’s playing.
“It was just a really mad couple of days. Again, I didn’t get nervous, I don’t know why. I think it’s because I’ve been doing this that many years, it’s just normal.
“I just wanted to get out on the pitch and play. It was amazing, dream come true and I think I did alright. It’s one of those games where they’re just popping the ball, so it was literally a running session.”
Still on the subject of Villa, he had a thank you for Sean Verity.
“He was 15 and 16s manager, now he’s the 18s,” he explained. “He had a big effect on me as a coach.
“When you’re training and doing all that with him, it’s all serious, but outside of football you can go to him for anything. He’s had a big impact on me at Villa and he still is.”
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