David Wright said there is no pressure on his Norwich City Under-21s to win the game against League Two side Crawley this Tuesday (7:45pm KO), as a good performance is the most valuable part of playing the senior side.
It’s been a tiring time for the Academy recently, travelling North to play Manchester United on Friday, and now travelling South to play Crawley Town just days later. Wright believes it’s an element of the game they need to get used to as players.
“It’s something they will have to adapt to if they want to be professional footballers. Maybe not so much in the Premier League because its more Saturday to Saturday, but if you go down through the EFL it’s Saturday and Tuesday’s basically all the way through the season.
“When we do get games like this, where they come quite closely, it’s a real good test for them physically and mentally. Are they able to keep their standards high and keep the output of what we ask them to do at a really high level even when they’re fatigued? It’s great for them to feel that.”
It isn’t a regular occurrence for academy sides to be playing senior squads. Reflecting on the games against Oxford and Portsmouth, Wright has said they put up a good fight so far, and need to continue this against Crawley
“It’s a major competition, in big stadiums, up against seasoned players part of good teams. Under that kind of pressure, can they perform? I think it’s been really positive, both Oxford and Portsmouth are very good teams, but we’ve been brave enough to play our way in possession. Obviously, Crawley is going to be another test, so we need to continue that and be brave enough. Whatever state the game is in, we need to play our way.”
“I won’t put any pressure on the players to win the game, because there’s no need to, they put the pressure on themselves. They’re trying to become elite athletes. And normally what athletes want to do is win, whichever sport it is, so I don’t need to tell them because they know themselves.
“I give them the information on the opposition and remind them of how we play. From there, they’re on the pitch. The next question for them is can they deliver the win when under pressure? And the boys who are able to, give themselves the best opportunity to move on to the next stage.”
With new arrivals such as Rob Nizet and Daniel Adshead joining the Academy quite recently, Wright has highlighted the bond the team has developed with each other, and the importance of being close.
“They’re great, if you go into the dressing room you see them about, there’s no cliques. the boys are quite comfortable around each other. In the gym, they work so hard. There aren’t any little break-off groups here there and everywhere, they’re actually becoming a really tight-knit group, which is good. That’s really important in the dressing room, it is a team sport, so the more together you are the more successful you will be.”
Touching on his ‘performance over results’ mantra, Wright said he finds the process to be more important above all else in the game, and has instilled this ideology into his players.
“I concentrate on the process of it all, so I’d like the team to play this way in possession, that way out of possession. And I have to help them understand both sides of the game, if they understand it and they’re able to perform it then I’m a believer that the result will take care of itself. But above all, I think the process is the most important.
Finally, Wright was asked if he thinks the Canaries can put on a good performance against Crawley, and how the team will cope playing against a senior squad once again.
“I’d like to think so, they’ve shown good performances against Oxford and Portsmouth. They haven’t been overawed by the occasion. They’ve been brave enough to play. We’ve just been caught out by our little mistakes, which seasoned players pounce on straightaway. Which might not happen so much in Premier League 2, but against professionals, it does. I just want us to be comfortable enough to play our way and make sure we express ourselves in and out of possession. If we do that, I’m sure the performance will be good.”