Academy manager Gregg Broughton blogs on the upcoming 2015-16 seasonIT has been a busy few weeks at the Academy, and we were very pleased to recently confirm Dmitri Halajko to the role of Under-21s manager on a permanent basis. Dmitri has done a fantastic job in pre-season in terms of preparing the squad, and he was certainly the strongest candidate for the role.
We’re also delighted to announce Darren Huckerby will be assisting Dmitri on matchdays, in addition to continuing his role as Under-16s coach where he has already made an impact. In pre-season, the Under-16s travelled to Iceland for a third year in a row to compete in the Rey Cup, and did brilliantly to win all six games, including defeating Stoke in a very competitive final.
This all shows there is a pathway through the Academy for everyone involved, as illustrated by the three promotions for Darren, Dmitri and Graeme Murty – who did an outstanding job with the Under-16s last season. We really wanted Graeme to continue developing the players in that group, and the three already have a very strong working relationship.
These appointments ensure we have a very vibrant coaching team across the Academy, which will benefit the Club in the long-term.
In term of pre-season more generally, we are delighted with how everything has gone so far, with the Under-18s taking in a really tough trip to the Czech Republic where they won two of their three games.
Meanwhile, the Under-21s had an equally productive week, with their training camp being based near the first team on the German-Austrian border. It was great to see integration between the senior and Academy sides, with players moving between the two camps.
Such combined thinking is key for the Academy to be successful, and we’re happy with the preparations we have made. That includes our hosting of Ipswich Town on Monday at Colney Training Centre, where we performed well to record a 2-0 victory.
We controlled much of the play in the first half, which is how we want to play, and the team will go into their opening game away to Sunderland well equipped.
Three of our first four home Under-21 games are set to be played at Carrow Road, starting with Chelsea at the end of August before we face Liverpool in September. In addition to this, our game against Tottenham in October has been scheduled for live broadcast on BT Sport, which is a fantastic opportunity for everyone associated with the Football Club.
Twelve months ago the same fixture was shown on television, and it was significant in earning Harry Toffolo a loan move to Swindon Town. Harry excelled during his time away from the Club, which shows how crucial such publicity can be in the development of our young players in terms of finding them pathways to progress in the game.
With that in mind, it is very pleasing to see Neil Adams return to Norwich in a role which can really assist with that process. Evidence shows the average age of players breaking into Premier League first teams in now 23.2 years, so having a Loans Manager who can identify the best options for those within our Academy is vital for the Football Club.
The majority of youngsters will take a longer route to reach first team football, so managing the loan pathway appropriately is something of extremely high importance.