City's Academy Manager brings you the latest on youth developmentOUR recent Under-21s game against Liverpool was a fantastic occasion once more and I’d like to start by thanking the supporters who backed the boys on the night.
I was at an Academy Managers’ meeting earlier this week where all the 24 managers of Category One academies were sat in a room, and they kept talking about Norwich City’s model because the Premier League designs the Under-21s league to be the toughest playground in the world.
They want it to be the arena that allows young players to prepare for what is without a doubt the toughest league in the world.
Our supporters have proved that they’re prepared to make that as real an atmosphere as possible, which is a huge, huge step. Playing in front of 8500 fans is great preparation for playing professional football.
Our Under-18s were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup last Thursday, and even though it was a disappointing performance, there were real positives.
With the Manager and the Technical Director at the match, I thought certain individuals were excellent on the evening. We must always remember that what we are trying to do at the club, as all clubs are doing, is produce individuals not teams.
With that in mind, a couple of individuals certainly gave a level of performance that had the Manager purring and talking about their levels of effort and achievement on the pitch.
We’ve just had a little bit of a restructuring in the coaching department.
We looked at the Professional Development Phase, and what we felt was that phase didn’t have a leader as such. We talked to all of the coaches in there about whether they saw their role as being more strategic and looking at individual players’ development, or as more as a team coach.
On the back of those discussions, we’ve moved Dmitri Halajko to become the Lead Phase Coach for the Professional Development Phase.
His job now is to make sure that we’ve got some real joined up thinking between the Under-16s and Under-21s. Working beneath him are the team coaches: Graeme Murty with the Under-16s, Jerry Gill (below) with the Under-18s and Paul Wilkinson with the Under-21s.
Dmitri is to make sure now that rather than having three teams we’ve got one group of players. We’re considering them as a group rather than three different strands. We will be announcing one or two more tweaks with the lower age groups after Christmas.
The Under-18s finish this week and we give them 10 days off over the festive period. Some of the boys have to come in when the first team are in training to help with jobs and to be around that group, as they are normally. Any injured players will continue to be in over Christmas doing their rehab.
The Under-21s finish with their Premier League International Cup game down at Chelsea. One or two of the boys who live abroad will go directly home from that game, while others will come back in and then go home tomorrow night or Christmas Eve morning. They have got a week off before they come back in and start preparing for the Manchester United game on Friday January 9.
Thanks for reading and we at Norwich City’s Academy would like to wish all supporters a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.