Academy Manager Gregg Broughton blogs on the 2015-16 seasonA GROUP of Under-17s competed in a small post-season tournament in Ipswich last weekend and the coaches in the Academy were really positive about the experience it gave the players.
We were excellent on the first day when we beat Brentford and should have beaten Ipswich. We had a tight game against Liverpool and then a play-off match against Ipswich to finish, which ended up as a bit of a dead rubber game which we lost 2-1.
In terms of what we got from the tournament, it was really positive and most importantly we feel that we had the best player from the four clubs competing.
As we look back on the season for our Under-18s, in terms of individual players it’s been really good. When those individuals came together as a group as they did do in the FA Youth Cup, you saw their strength.
It’s disappointing that the boys who weren’t playing up a year didn’t make more of the opportunities they had in the squad. One of the hardest parts of any U18 coach's role is helping their players to understand that the two-year scholarship goes so quickly and that they have to make the most of every moment.
We’re delighted with the players who have been offered professional contracts and the accelerated learning they had while playing Under-21s football, and we’re delighted with how they did in the FA Youth Cup, which is when they showed their level.
The season petered out a little bit at the end, which leaves us asking some questions about some of the players in the group. We need some of those players to have much better second years of their scholarships for them to get themselves pro contracts.
The Under-21s were in transition this season because of the number of players out on loan, and because of that we weren’t ultimately able to compete at the level needed to stay in that top division. We came very close but we weren’t able to get that group across the line.
With that group of top end Under-21s now not being eligible for Under-21s football, for next season we want to get an Under-21s group that can train and play together every week. Some of those may go out on loan, but we want a more competitive group where if boys do go out on loan, they can still compete.
This means there will be less draw on the Under-18s group next season. There will be certain players who will be in the Under-21s group all season, and there will be those who will be in the Under-18s group all season. This will give us more robust squads and give the coaches more stability with their session parameters.
Last weekend we had Under-13s and Under-14s competing in the Norhalne Cup, a tournament out in Denmark.
Both teams won the tournament. The Under-14s beat Crystal Palace to win it and the Under-13s beat both top clubs from Denmark, Sweden and Holland to win and there were some really positive individual and team performances out there.
Finally, I would like to finish by urging our supporters to come down to Carrow Road to back our Under-16s in the Hospital Cup against Ipswich Town.
This event, on Tuesday May 17, is a great way to finish the season for this Academy group as their attention begins to switch to their GCSE exams.
The fact the game is against our local rivals gives it even more edge and it should be a great spectacle for our supporters, along with raising money for a very worthy cause.