Fernandinho sees the future and makes Man City prediction after trophy-laden season

Advertisements

Rival fans with a masochistic streak, who insisted on watching Manchester City players cavorting around the Etihad Stadium on Sunday might have felt daunted about the future. After all, the squad which just proved itself the best in the country, and became only the third team ever to top 150 goals in a season, will add a 25-30 goals a season striker to their ranks.

But if they had surveyed the scene carefully, and seen a small group of youngsters kitted out in City tracksuits, standing a little awkwardly on the fringes of the champagne-spraying and general malarkey, their hearts may have sunk a little further into their boots. The young men in question were Nico O’Reilly, Rico Lewis, Shea Charles and Lakyle Samuel.

They were clutching the rest of City’s haul for the season – the Under-17 Premier League Cup, the Under-18 Premier League trophy, the Premier League 2 trophy and the Under-16 Premier League Cup. It was a sure sign that City’s prediction then head of academy Mark Allen, back in 2011-12, that it would be a decade before the investment and planning that had been pumped into his department truly started to pay dividends.

ALSO READ: Why City really DON’T want to be like Liverpool

He was not talking about winning trophies, but rather the prime aim of the academy, which is to produce players for the first team. Last season, eight academy products made their first-team debuts, more than at any time in the last 50 years.

That figure is slightly skewed by the fact that Pep Guardiola’s response to a defensive injury crisis for the Carabao Cup game against Wycombe was to field a back four of CJ Egan-Riley, Luke Mbete, Finley Burns and Josh Wilson-Esbrand, but the stat stands.

And when you scratch beneath the surface of those trophy triumphs at junior level, you see some extreme talents who have either just briefly poked their noses above the water in the first team – like Kayky, Romeo Lavia, Cole Palmer, Samuel Edozie and James McAtee – or have yet to breach the surface, like flying wingers Carlos Borges and Dire Mebude.

It is tough to make that final step – the fact that academy standard-bearer Phil Foden is the first youth product to establish himself at City since Micah Richards tells its own tale. And with excellent young players like Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Tommy Doyle likely to carve a good career for themselves elsewhere, the bar for success is set very high.

One of Fernandinho’s final acts before leaving the club to return to Brazil was to make the point that the future of the squad is in good hands, not least with Palmer, McAtee and Delap all thrusting into the first team but also a host of other talents pushing upwards.

The 37-year-old has played his own part as club skipper, offering guidance on technique, lifestyle and anything else the kids might need, from Delap’s finishing to Jayden Braaf’s lifestyle.

Advertisements


Manchester City captains celebrate 2021/22 success. From left to right: Nico O’Reilly with the U17 PL Cup, Rico Lewis with the U18 Premier League trophy, Fernandinho with the Premier League trophy, Shea Charles with the Premier League 2 trophy, and Lakyle Samuel with the U16 PL Cup

And he has noticed, in his nine years at the club, how the feed from academy to first team has become more productive, saying: “Those young players have been really privileged to have a chance to live with the first team, to train and then to play. They can learn a lot of things on a daily basis and this is going to be an opportunity for them to learn for the future.

“For sure, they understand the City way to play really well. In two or three years from now, when they get a bit older, they will be flying for sure. I have no doubts about that.

“The work that has been done here in the academy is fantastic. Everyone here should be really proud because they are doing a good job. I am really looking forward to seeing those players in a City shirt in the future.

“One thing, now you can see more players come from the academy to join the first team more regularly. Some of them have the opportunity to train with us and spend most of their time with us. This is important.

“The connection we have between the academy and the first team, exchanging information to see how the players are developing, is so important. In terms of results, you can see that all of the youth teams are doing really well in their competitions. This is really important.

“From 2013 to now, I have seen a lot of change in that sense. Definitely in the next ten years you are going to see a lot more changes for the better. ”

Sign up to our City newsletter so you never miss an update from the Etihad Stadium this season.

Catch up on all the latest Blues headlines in our Man City section

.

Advertisements

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*