‘You can see that in two ways’: Man City coach responds to UEFA Youth League setback for academy

'You can see that in two ways': Man City coach responds to UEFA Youth League setback for academy

Manchester City EDS coach Brian Barry-Murphy saw ‘the seeds of some very important careers start to form’ in the defeat that saw the Under-19s eliminated from the UEFA Youth League.

City needed a victory at home to PSG to keep their qualification hopes alive but a young team was comfortably second-best across the 90 minutes even if a late rally added a consolation to see the game end 3-1. The result leaves the young Blues with just five points from five games – six behind both PSG and Club Brugge – and they are winless in their last four in the competition.

With expectations across the academy of going deep in a tournament that pits the best European sides against each other just like the Champions League does, an early exit at the group stage is disappointing – even if the Blues have been hamstrung by an increasing list of players unavailable as the season has gone on. Liam Delap, Cole Palmer, James McAtee and Sam Edozie are among the first-team prospects that have all been missing for at least one game.

“It has been very tough, in terms of our players the injuries have been very significant and a lot of surgery, a lot of long term stuff. That has had a negative effect in terms of the results,” said Barry-Murphy.

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“You can see that in two ways: as a key factor in exiting the group or you can say the lads who have played who are much younger have had a great experience and have learned from that and will be stronger for it next season. That’s the way I see it anyway.

“I’ve loved every moment of it and from the very start, with the expectations of the players you could sense that. Whenever that comes to an end it’s very disappointing.

“We were speaking a lot about how important it was that we kept going right until the end. You can see the real seeds of some very important careers start to form in that situation. That will be the same in the next game against Leipzig, that will be a very important game for us in terms of how we approach it and how we play.”

McAtee has been one of the standout performers in the competition for City this season and only two players have scored more than the five goals he managed in five starts.

However, injuries to first-team players saw him bumped up to the first-team squad for the PSG game alongside Palmer and injuries elsewhere meant Barry-Murphy was forced to use players out of position; centre-back Shea Charles and winger Oscar Bobb were used as central midfielder in front of Romeo Lavia, while left-back Josh Wilson-Esbrand was pushed up as a left forward with Rico Lewis behind him.

While the coach insisted they still had every chance of winning the game, when the result was up he made a deliberate point of bringing on more of the younger players and will have no hesitation in doing so again for the final match at RB Leipzig.

“We were really just trying to find some solutions to find the best team for this game,” he said. “Those players are just doing a job for the team – which is something that they’re going to have to do through their careers anyway. Their attitude and application to do that for the team when they would probably play somewhere else is very important. We were just trying to find a solution for this game bearing in mind who we were facing.

“I thought with the players we had available we had a great chance of winning this game. There were no guarantees but I thought if we played as well as we can do I was very confident we would create chances.

“I think the game for me was always going to be about how we could sustain pressure in the attacking half and how we would deal with the counter-attacks from Paris and in both elements of the game we weren’t able to reach the levels needed.

“Nothing changes from my point of view [for Leipzig]. We pick whatever players we have available to us and if that ends up being as young as it was today and in previous games it is a good opportunity for our younger players to get the exposure that they normally would not see.

“I was pretty determined at the end [against PSG] to give the like of Mahamadou [Susoho] a taste of what that action looks like, and Dire [Mebude] the same. You hope that they see the value in that and it makes it even more beneficial next season.”

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