Academy Coach Michael Tonge previews Young Terriers clash with Mansfield Town
- Young Terriers squad to feature a mix of ages
- Under-17s currently on a week-long break
- Tonge discusses long-term aims of Academy set-up
Academy Individual Coach Michael Tonge helped preview our Young Terriers next game against Mansfield Town away on Saturday 30 October 2021, kicking-off at 11am.
Using the Mansfield Town Academy as a comparison point, Michael was keen to underline why Town choose to play younger sides against established Academy teams to fast track their development. Rather than short-term wins, the Town Academy is geared toward achieving long-term goals.
“Mansfield will have a settled side who have played together for a long time and will know who is playing each week rather than having too much change or adjustment” Tonge said.
“That’s not how we develop our players, so it is a slight advantage for Mansfield. Long term, how we operate is really beneficial.”
Explaining that the Town Under-17s have been given the opportunity to spend a week with their families at home this week, Tonge advised that a slightly older group of Young Terriers will line-up against Mansfield.
“Our Under-17s have essentially been on half-term this week, so they’ve been spending some time at home. That means it will be a predominantly Under-18s game for us, but still playing in the Under-19s league.
“We know what our team is looking like and the side we’re going to pick having trained together all week, and they have a little bit more experience to just come in and play. They’ll have played Mansfield last season so will know what to expect.”
Explaining the process of how and why our Academy operates in the way it does and why breaks such as this week benefit our youngest age group, Tongey laid out where the side is developmentally at present, whilst giving a view of where they will get to once they’ve had the opportunity to progress.
“I think it’s important to allow our younger players that chance to have a break. A lot of them have left home for the first time and come from other areas of the country, so it is a lot at that age. It’s really good that they can go back and see their family.
“When you’re in the middle of the season it can be overwhelming sometimes, so to be able to go back and have a refresh is good for them. When you’re only 16 it can be intense, they spend a lot of time with us at Canalside and it’s not like they can go home every weekend to see their loved ones.
“Having a mental break is probably more important than the physical rest. They’ve gone straight from school to training everyday in a new environment – it’s difficult. But that will help them in the longer term, as we see with our Under-19s and the B Team, who’ve all been through that process previously.
“Our players learn more about themselves playing older players. Last weekend is the perfect example – while our Under-17s lost against a good Grimsby team, our Under-19s went to Liverpool and beat their Academy side.
“At least half of the players who played in that Liverpool game would be of the age that could have also played against Grimsby, and that’s why we put them through this process of improvement, for better results further down the line.
“The majority of those Under-19s have been through that process and graduated from our Under-17s side, so that’s a really good comparison to show why we play younger players at this stage, because a year down the line they will be able to go to places such as Liverpool and beat them.”
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