Coach Bunn discusses Under-21s reaching PDL2 Play-Off Final
Senior Professional Development Coach Frankie Bunn believes Huddersfield Town’s Development Squad players have improved massively during the course of the 2014/15 season.
Frankie led Huddersfield Town’s Under-21 side to the PDL2 Play-Off Final with a 5-3 extra-time win at Crystal Palace on Tuesday afternoon; a result he says came from the hard work that has been put in daily at PPG Canalside over a long period of time.
“I think this was the culmination of the work, discipline and coaching we’ve put into this group and spirit we’ve created over the last three years,” Frankie told htafc.com. “They’ve been absolutely fantastic to work with. In terms of performances and results, it’s been another terrific year for us.”
Yesterday’s host Crystal Palace topped the PDL2 South table this season, but the young Terriers defeated the Eagles yesterday thanks to goals from scholar Jack Boyle, Sondre Tronstad, Duane Holmes and a late Jake Charles brace (click HERE
for the match report).
Frankie continued: “We prepared for the game over two days. We watched Crystal Palace on video having played them once earlier in the season, when they out-powered us. We got beaten 3-2 at home that day with a young team, but we played a similar team on Tuesday and competed well.
“The game was a little bit open for my liking, but there were some great positives to take out of it; we scored five goals, we started well, we had a great tempo to our pressing and passing.
“However, coaches are really greedy – we want everything to be spot on – and on the negative side we took our foot off the gas after around 20 minutes and allowed them to creep into the game. That let them equalise and they hit the post soon after, but we regrouped at half-time and started doing the ugly things well again; the pressing and the recovery runs.
“We went 3-2 up with five minutes to go, but we showed some youthful exuberance and played like we were chasing the game! That meant we got hit with a counter-attack in the last minute of the game. We had to regroup again for the start of extra-time and then the character of the squad saw us respond really well.”
The ultimate purpose of the Development Squad is to produce players for the First Team, but Frankie believes the winning mentality that has been cultivated stands the players in good stead.
“That was instilled in them three years ago; these players just keep on going. We’ve had our ups and downs this year, but generally the performances and results have been very good. I think we’ve put Huddersfield Town’s Academy on the map.
“It would be fantastic to finish the job this season. We can’t forget we are in an elite sport and we want to win every competition we play in. Whilst this group exists to develop players for the First Team, we want to win this Play-Off.
“Most of these players will now have appeared in three finals, on top of winning the league title at Under-18 level. They might be young, but they already have vast experience of dealing with pressurised finals.”
Town fans are always eager to see home-grown players in the First Team, but Frankie urged patience with current crop of youngsters under his charge:
“They’ve all improved, which is pleasing, but they’re not the finished article yet. We’re still young as an Under-21 group; the majority are still Under-19s.
“The ultimate goal is to get one of these boys into the First Team and for him to stay there, whoever that is. Obviously they have to be good enough to achieve that.
“It’s been great to see a few break in this season. Right at the start we saw Matt Crooks do it, which people might have forgotten, and more recently ‘Wilko’ (Joe Wilkinson - pictured above) made his first start. We’ve also had little cameos from William Boyle and Jake Charles, so the signs are good.
“We can’t forget that they are still becoming young men. The staff here are a bit like expectant fathers as we’re waiting for them to flourish and kick-on! We have to be patient with them.
“10 or 15 years ago, you would be discarded or moved on if you weren’t in and around the First Team when you reached 18. Things have changed now. Players tend to break into First Teams when they reach 21 or 22; look at Tommy Smith, Harry (Bunn) and Conor Coady here.
“They’re not the finished article yet, so let’s be patient with them as they develop. They’re still learning the game and developing mentally and physically, because it’s a massive learning curve.
“They are on the right road though. We never take the foot off the gas with them whether it’s on the grass, in the gym or in the classroom. They’re responding to that.”