First-team and fans continue Academy backingIn the latest edition of his monthly blog, Senior Club Journalist Ben Mouncer reflects on City Under-21s vs Tottenham at Carrow Road.
Thursday’s Under-21s game showcased what Norwich City as a football club is all about.
The result may have gone in Tottenham’s favour at the end of a thrilling contest at Carrow Road, but there were many wins as far as the Canaries were concerned.
With football fans nationwide tuning into live coverage of the match on BT Sport, this was an opportunity to impress on and off the field, to confirm the Club’s reputation as champions of an Under-21s Premier League that is still forging its reputation as the best environment for promising footballers to progress.
First of all, credit has to go to both teams for the boldness in their team selections: Norwich have made a conscious decision to place their faith in players who would still be young enough to play in the competition in five years’ time.
BT’s commentator Jonathan Pearce rightly highlighted Glenn Middleton throughout, who for the second time started a competitive Under-21s game aged just 15. First-year scholars Louis McIntosh and Benny Ashley-Seal were also entrusted with key roles in Dmitri Halajko’s eleven. They have done themselves and their club proud in the last two weeks.
But City also reward hard work and persistence alongside talent. Their scorers Jamie Eaton-Collins, who endured injury hell last season but quietly makes a big impact, and Cameron Norman, who has been with the Academy since the age of nine, epitomise that.
Watching all along was Alex Neil, whose support for youth development was highlighted by Gregg Broughton in his most recent Next Generation column on canaries.co.uk
“Alex stayed until late and did a lengthy CPD (Continuing Professional Development) session with every one of the coaches in the Academy. Not only did he not have to do that, but to come out and do it so candidly and so honestly, I thought what it made every member of staff feel was part of that team.”
Gary Holt’s presence alongside Halajko and Darren Huckerby in the dugout against Spurs goes further to proving that joined-up approach, the importance of which can’t be underestimated when it comes to establishing the pathway players need to make it in the game.
Then there are the fans. In the middle of the week, on a chilly autumn night, when they could have easily stayed at home and watched from the comfort of their sofas, 6,684 supporters backed the boys.
Almost a year to the day from when City broke the record for the highest attendance at an Under-21s Premier League match, their supporters demonstrated once more that it was far from a one-off.