As Manchester City’s first team make light work of almost every challenge in their path, it is a different story for the club’s under-18 side, writes Dan O’Toole
The Blues’ academy outfit have experienced a downturn in results since cruising to the top of the under-18 Premier League North at the start of the season.
But experiencing defeat is just as important as winning according to manager and former City player Gareth Taylor, in his bid to produce a group of professionals.
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Taylor has reverted from blooding 18-year-olds to a squad largely made up of 16-year-olds as he looks to take his prospects out of their comfort zones.
“We want the challenge and to challenge the players by going really young,” the 44-year-old explains after a 4-1 home defeat against West Brom, the latest in a run of games that has seen four points taken from five games and City slip down to fourth in the table.
City’s early-season form saw the side stroll to five wins from five games, but Taylor sees that as counterproductive.
“It’s not going to be winning every week, we’ve done that before and it doesn’t do anyone any good,” he says.
“We’re looking at the bigger picture and it’s about development for the players, this is what we wanted this season.
“We knew that within that challenge we were going to lose games sometimes. In youth football sometimes that’s part and parcel of getting these lads the experiences needed to become a professional.
“A massive part of these boys’ development is to see how they react to defeats and I think that’s really important. Not always defeats – but real tough challenges.
“As long as we are getting the challenge and these players are having to be at it in every single game then that’s what we are looking for and what we need for them to get to that next level, as it’s not easy when you get there.”