Monday 28 January 2013
Manchester City and West Ham United's Academy teams booked trips to Barcelona after finishing as the top two sides in the Barclays Premier League Under-14 National Tournament.
Both sides reached the final of the ten-team at the London Soccerdome in Greenwich with 100% per cent records but City emerged 3-1 winners with goals from Nosa Iyamu, Lukas Nmecha and Joe Hardy, whose goal made him the club’s top scorer at the tournament with three.
By topping their groups of five City and West Ham had guaranteed themselves a trip to Barcelona where they will play in a four-team tournament in March at Barcelona's Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, home of one of most famous academies for young footballers. As well as Barcelona Under-14s, the teams will play local side Cornella, from where Barcelona and Spain left-back Jordi Alba graudated as well as Arsenal’s Ignasi Miquel.
The annual national tournament is part of the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan to improve the development of players in England that began this season. The event forms part of the “Youth Development” phase, where there is a transition to the 11 v 11 game and national tournaments offer the chance for the best teams to savour a competitive environment against one another, as well as on the international stage.
"Development is important but at some stage we do have to develop a winning culture"
The ten teams at Greenwich all came through a tough regional qualification process. They were split into two groups of five, playing each other once before playing off against the team in the same final position from the other group. City’s head of academy Mark Allen led the tributes to the players, coaches and Academy staff.
“It’s always nice to win tournaments but the manner that we won it in is most pleasing,” Allen said. “We played some really good football and there was excellent behaviour on and off the pitch and we proved we are a real force among the British clubs.
"Darren Bowman has coached this side for the past two years and revealed his belief that this latest success proves that opting for this progressive system is paying dividends.
City’s Under-14 squad are enrolled in the club’s St Bede's programme, which gives all players access to a full-time education and a full five-day training programme, headed by Bowman, who enjoyed seeing his charges fare so well against unfamiliar opponents from other parts of the country.
“It’s nice for them to get some success and we’re seeing the benefits of the full-time St Bede’s programme,” Bowman said. "Obviously development is important but at some stage we do have to develop a winning culture and the players have to get used to the pressure and the environment that brings.
Managing director of the City football academy Brian Marwood was delighted with the triumph. "This is a great achievement for everyone connected with the academy,” Marwood said. "As you are all aware we have worked hard recently to build on the proud history that the academy has attained over the years. This success is a by-product of that and one which shows we are on the right path."
City and West Ham will be looking to go one better than Arsenal and Fulham who both drew against Barcelona last year.
Blackburn Rovers 2-2 West Bromwich Albion
Fulham 2-1 Manchester United
West Ham United 1-0 Fulham
Man Utd 2-0 Blackburn
Man Utd 1- 0 West Brom
West Ham 2-1 Blackburn
West Brom 1-2 West Ham
Blackburn 1-1 Fulham
West Ham 1-0 Man Utd
Fulham 1-6 West Brom
Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Southampton
Chelsea 1-2 Manchester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Chelsea
Man City 1-0 Bolton
Man City 2-1 Southampton
Wolves 0-4 Bolton
Southampton 0-1 Wolves
Bolton 1-0 Chelsea
Wolves 1-3 Man City
Chelsea 2-0 Southampton
Blackburn 1-2 Southampton
Fulham 1-1 Wolves (Wolves win on penalties)
West Brom 2-2 Chelsea (West Brom win on penalties)
Man Utd 0-1 Bolton
Man City 3-1 West Ham