Under-18s manager Neil Adams happy with progress
Former City midfielder Neil Adams is the man, who along with fellow ex-Canary Gary Holt, is tasked with overseeing the development of City’s first and second-year scholars in the U18s age group - so Canaries.co.uk caught up with the 46-year-old to find out how he is getting on in his new role.
“Lead coach of the professional development phase is the official title”, said Adams. “Which basically equates to the U18s manager, but that’s the official title under the EPPP guidelines.
“I was the U16s coach last season, and some of those players are now the first year scholars who join a talented group of second years.
“With the U16s last year we won the prestigious Premier League Tournament in Warwick, where we had to overcome the likes of Liverpool, Newcastle, Chelsea, and Everton to win it.
“That was a real feather in our cap which we are very proud of, and eight of those players we took on as full-time scholars to join the second years.
“I know a lot about them, as well as the U18s from working with Ricky Martin last year, and I’m looking forward to working with them.
“My objective is to develop them to a level where they can be offered professional contract, and hopefully we can continue to do that year-on-year.”
The young Canaries’ pre-season is already well underway, and with a successful tour of Scotland and the BC Worldwide Challenge 2012 trophy secured with a win over Southend, it has been a promising start.
Adams added: “We’ve had five games in total now. We went to Scotland for a mini five-day tour and played two games against Kilmarnock and against Hamilton first of all.
“We beat Kilmarnock 5-2, against their under-19s, so they were a bit older than us and more physical and direct in their approach.
“Then against Hamilton one or two of their first team players were given a run-out because they were going on tour the next day, so it was a much tougher game due to the experience of some of their players, although we managed to win that one 2-1 from being a goal down.
“We scored two in the last 15 minutes, and I thought we were the better team. We brought it out from the back and the lads are beginning to take on board the principals that we are trying to install into the side well.
“It was difficult against Hamilton because they were experienced, but we stuck at it to get the two goals and come back from Scotland unbeaten.”
After the two games north of the border, the U18s took part in the four-team BC Worldwide Challenege alongside Millwall, Colchester United, and Southend United on July 21 and 22.
The games were initially scheduled to be played at Southend’s Roots Hall, however heavy rain saw the ties moved to the Boots and Laces training ground.
“Southend put on a fantastic tournament for us,” said Adams. “It’s a tournament we went to last year and it’s really well organised.
“It’s usually played at Roots Hall, which is really good for the youngsters to get the experience of playing on a league ground. Unfortunately this year with the torrential rain they didn’t want four games on their main match pitch in two days, so they moved it to the training ground, where the pitch was fine.
“We beat Millwall 4-1 in the semi and really played some excellent football before facing Southend in the final on the Sunday.
“With the games being back-to-back, the first game was 30 minutes each way, and the second was 40 minutes each way, so it was gradually building up.
“Southend were a bigger, more physical, and direct side. Although we didn’t play our best football, we handled it and it’s pleasing to win the trophy."
City’s impressive pre-season winning run came to an end with a narrow 1-0 defeat to West Ham at Colney in a friendly on Wednesday, July 25, however Adams stressed the importance of not reading too much into these results.
“You can go through pre-season winning every game and thinking you’re world beaters, but it doesn’t always translate into league form,” Adams said. “So it’s important not to take too much notice of these games.
“They are more important to get us in the right place fitness-wise ahead of the league season. Obviously we all want to win, but our objective is to develop the players.
“The game was played in baking hot conditions, and we didn’t really show the quality that we know we’ve got.
“The goal came in the first half, but we were a lot better in the second half and we dominated the possession.
“We came close to equalising, and should have done so with a couple of chances, but we didn’t have the cutting edge we had in other games. It’s another game under our belts and we move on.
“The lads were disappointed that they didn’t get going for whatever reason, but it’s another good run out for us. That was our fifth game in total so the games are coming thick and fast. We’ve also got friendlies with Ipswich and Charlton before we kick off the season.
“I’m sure over the course of the season some of the lads will be involved in Scott Marshall’s under-21s development squad, either playing or being on the bench.
“The aim is to get as many players into the development squad as we can and get them through the system. The objective of the entire academy is to eventually get lads into the manager’s first team squad.”