Academy Manager reflects on 2020/21 campaign
- Emyr Humphreys discusses season’s positives
- Academy Manager on the B Team’s first full season
- Young Terriers to build on achievements in 2021/22
Huddersfield Town’s Academy Manager Emyr Humphreys believes the Young Terriers have made significant strides throughout the 2020/21 season.
Following the end of his first full season as Academy Manager, Emyr took the time to highlight the positives that have been achieved by everyone involved.
“The strength and resilience everyone’s shown to get through this season has been incredible.
“A lot of our players are away from their families and haven’t been able to go home for 12 months and so it was a really tough season for a lot of people.
“We set everyone targets at the start of the season and the number of minutes our Academy players have had in the First Team has been a big positive. I think it finished on over 24% of the minutes played coming from Academy players.
“In fact, the amount of exposure we got players to the First Team was huge. The number of players that trained with them, that played with the First Team – the FA Cup game in particular was great for us – it was huge.
“We also wanted to compete with the bigger teams from the north, so your Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Leeds etc. The fact we were able to beat United, City and Liverpool at different age groups was a massive step forward, it’s the first time we’ve done that.
“Overall, were loads of positives to take from this season.”
The start of the 2020/21 season saw a fresh set of Scholars join the Academy, as well as a new partnership with Rishworth School.
“The Under-17s settled in really well on the whole.
“It was quite a tough start for them, there’s a lot from very different backgrounds and who hadn’t had much Academy experience, so the first six months was tough for them.
“The amount of potential in that group is huge and the way they’ve settled in, the camaraderie between them, and the way they’ve improved is huge.
“Rishworth School has been really beneficial to them. You could see a little bit of why in the Clarets Cup Final – how together they are and how close some of those boys are.
“They’ve helped each other through this year and kept each other motivated, especially when they haven’t been able to go home and see their families.
“Next year is going to be really exciting for them, they’ll get to really see what full time football’s really about. They’ve already got the relationships and they’ll be a year on in terms of physicality, so it’ll be exciting to see what that group can do.”
The 2020/21 season also saw the introduction of the B Team, something Humphreys believes was a big step forward.
“Introducing the B Team was a huge step forward.
“In hindsight, it perhaps didn’t go quite as well as we wanted it to because the groups were quite messy, but that in itself was a huge positive because it meant that players were training and working with the First Team and that exposure is so valuable.
“We upped the calibre of games that they play – Liverpool at Anfield and West Brom at the Hawthorns – and we definitely want to play more First Team or fringe teams of high-profile clubs at stadiums going forward.
“We want that high pressure environment and I think it’s got to go up yet another level next season.
“You look at the number of players that have made their debut this season and I’m massively proud of them.
“That’s ultimately what we’re here to do when those players join – get them playing for our First Team.
“Seeing them out there, whether it’s home or away, is a really nice recognition for all the hard work that they and the staff put in day in and day out.
“Some of them, Brahima, Pat, Myles, have made their debuts as second year scholars and that’s something that’s really rare. It’s massively rewarding for everyone involved.”
Humphreys was also quick to comment on Town’s Under-19s, who were unfortunate to miss out in a few cup games over the season.
“Our expectation for the Under-19s is massive, so when they lose any game it’s disappointing for all of us because we know what they’re capable of.
“The experience of losing in an important game is actually probably more valuable than if you win the games, because the amount of learning that will have come from those games that they’ll be able to carry forward with them will be huge.
“Next season the demand will go up again, because I think that group could face anyone, anywhere in the country and go toe to toe with them, so the next stage is to start winning relentlessly.”
Emyr also took the time to speak about what the Academy’s aims are for next season.
“The main aim is around the B Team – going toe to toe with the biggest clubs on a regular basis.
“We want to regularly be playing your Manchester United, Manchester City and maybe even some London teams.
“We’ll put more of an aim of winning with the older age groups too, so we’ll really focus on the fundamentals and dominating both boxes.
“They’ll have the off-season to catch up with their families, which is so important now that restrictions are beginning to lift, but they’ll be ready to hit the ground running as soon as they return for pre-season.”