Nick Cox: Winning while developing players is utopia

Wednesday 17 April 2024 12:30

Our Under-18s' 2-1 victory over Wolves on Tuesday confirmed the team as winners of the Under-18 Premier League North. Congratulations to all the staff and players involved.

The primary aim of the Manchester United Academy is, of course, player development, and we will be defined by our ability to support players to have careers in the senior game. But utopia is where you develop individuals and win games at the same time.

Winning is usually a byproduct of good coaches, talented players and the right coaching programme. 

Winning is an art that can be learned. And when players reach this age, not only are we developing players technically, tactically, physically and mentally, the emphasis is also teaching them how to win as well.
Erik congratulates title-winning U18s Video

Erik congratulates title-winning U18s

Erik ten Hag congratulated our title-winning Under-18s on Tuesday, after speeches by Nick Cox and Finley McAllister...

It is therefore important that we stop to celebrate the achievement of the team. For players aged 16, 17 and 18, it is important that they learn to be part of an effective team that can perform consistently in a highly competitive environment. This achievement of winning the Under-18 Premier League is recognition of this group of players ability to do just that. And at this club, being a winner is a useful habit to nurture.
What is particularly pleasing is the manner in which the team have gone about winning the league. They have been committed to a style of play. 34 different players have featured in the team with opportunities for many Under-16 players to play their part. Tuesday's victory at Wolves was the 19th win out of 22 games. The team won the opening 14 games of the season and have only lost on one occasion. The team have scored 74 goals so far, with two games left to play.
The group have faced a variety of learning experiences; chasing the game from two goals down, playing with 10 men, local derbies, last minute equalisers/winners, must-win games and games where they were the favourites. All of those experiences will help to prepare the players for a senior career.
And judging by the post-match celebration at Wolves, and the squad's meal in the main Carrington restaurant on their return - with the manager congratulating the players and the coaching staff for their achievements - the boys have enjoyed themselves and created memories that will last forever. That's another important part of the Academy journey.
The group represents a plethora of pathways to our Academy, with each player in the title-winning squad making their own unique journey. Some are local boys, who joined us as Under-9s via our Pre-Academy programme. Others have arrived from grassroots football through our emerging talent programme. And there are those we have recruited from other professional teams across the country. Regardless of the different roads they took, they have all become part of our United family.
In terms of staff, its important to recognise the hard work and dedication of the Under-18s coaches: Adam Lawrence, Colin Little and Kevin Wolfe. But they have also been supported in an outstanding fashion by a team of exceptional support staff and wider club staff. Thank you to everyone.
This achievement is really an achievement for the Professional Development Phase Staff as a whole. The 34 players have represented a variety of teams (U16s, U17s, U19s, U21s, EFL Trophy team and first team) and their development has taken place under the care of the whole group of Professional Development Phase staff lead by Travis Binnion. Well done to them all.

How our young Reds won the U18 PL North title


Our Under-18s have been crowned league champions, after beating Wolves away this Tuesday afternoon.

The Under-18s group will now have the opportunity to play in a national play-off against the southern champions. And before that, we play Manchester City in the Premier League Cup Final, next Tuesday evening at Leigh Sports Village.

I hope to see thousands of United fans there, taking advantage of the free tickets, to get behind our boys in another big game.

Thanks for your support.

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