Tuesday 21 May 2013

Barclays U21s: Joyce rejoices in United resilience

Manchester United manager delighted as his side fight back to win final at Old Trafford

  • Tom Thorpe was the first captain to lift the Barclays Under-21 Premier League trophy

  • Spurs celebrated Alex Pritchard opening the scoring at Old Trafford

  • Larnell Cole levelled the scores at 2-2 for Manchester United

  • Cole scored the winner with only two minutes remaining at Old Trafford

Resilience and fitness were the key characteristics that Manchester United displayed to stage a remarkable fightback and claim the Barclays Premier League Under-21, according to their manager Warren Joyce, who said his side had "climbed a mountain" to achieve their greatest final victory to date.

Resilience and fitness were the key characteristics that Manchester United displayed to stage a remarkable fightback and claim the Barclays Premier League Under-21, according to their manager Warren Joyce, who said his side had "climbed a mountain" to achieve their greatest final victory to date.

Joyce rued the defensive errors that enabled Alex Pritchard and Jonathan Obika to put Tottenahm Hotspur two goals ahead in the first half, but United came roaring back through Marnick Vermijl and two Larnell Cole strikes to clinch a dramatic win at Old Trafford.

"To give two soft goals away gave us a mountain to climb but we’ve ended up climbing it"
Warren Joyce

"I'm pleased," said Joyce. "We were disappointed at half-time with the manner in which we gave the goals away. They were basic individual errors. We know from past experience this season what a good footballing side Tottenham are.

"We had a game plan and, whilst Spurs had a bit of possession, I thought we could hurt them as well and we were disappointed that we didn’t make more of the chances we created in the first half. To give two soft goals away gave us a mountain to climb but we’ve ended up climbing it."

Though Sir Alex Ferguson retired as United's first-team manager on Sunday, Joyce admitted that his Old Trafford hairdryer had to be put to use during the interval in order to jolt some of his players back into action, as the visitors were threatening to run away with the contest.

"I can't tell you exactly what was said but let's say that the gist of it was we've got to keep believing," said Joyce. "I ripped into one or two, tried to shock them into action, but basically I said, 'If you don’t believe, it’s a waste of time going out of the door'. We still had to work at a game plan but I thought we could hurt them."

The United manager was all too aware of Tottenham's strengths. This after all was a side which had rattled off 77 goals already this season and finished top of the league in both the first and the second phase of the competition, but he was convinced his charges could claw their way back into the match.

Mental strength

"We know what a good footballing side Tottenham are, how skilful they are; they’re a bit more experienced than us and they handled the ball really well as they have done all season, they’ve been a great passing side to watch all season so we knew we had to dig in and keep going. But these lads are a resilient bunch, they are super fit and I think that told in the end."

Ferguson has spoken in recent weeks of how his United side's spirit and mental strength has been key to their success over the last two decades and Joyce was quick to highlight the importance of imbuing the same never-say-mentality in his young charges.

"It runs right through the club," he said. "It's got to be instilled in young players, because if you look at the ones who have lasted a long time, the Giggses, the Scholeses, the Nevilles, the Beckhams and the Butts of this world - they've got that.

"They are humble people, they work hard, they’re still working hard now; they’re not interested in the razzmatazz that goes on. They are more interested in being a footballer and doing the right things.

"You see a lot of young lads now, footballers they are more boy-bandish than sportsmen really, so they are the principles we are trying to drill into them here every day; that nothing's a problem for them and that they train hard and work hard and do their maximum every day."

Another source of satisfaction for Joyce was the fact that his victory had been secured despite the depletion of his reserves of strikers in January, due to loan deals and sales. But the setback forced him to shuffle his pack and try players in different positions.

"Tottenham have been a really good side"
Warren Joyce

"At Christmas five forwards left the club so we had no forwards from Christmas really, so we had to juggle them around and adapt," he explained. "Adnan Janazaj has adapted and led the line excellently tonight. He's got some talent and grown into that role and helped us achieve what we’ve achieved tonight.

"The victory is great. We've been there at the death again and won it three times out of the last four, and the time that we didn't win it in between we were that far ahead in the league but we got done because Blackburn played about four or five first-teamers in the knockout game, so we’ve been in with a shout for the last four years. But I think that was the best final."

Joyce added that although Tottenham's players were left understandably dejected at the end of a final they must have thought was theirs for the taking, they could take plenty of heart form their display. There is more to this tournament, after all, than lifting the Barclays Under-21 Premier League trophy.

"Tottenham have been a really good side," he said. "They manipulate the ball well and I’ve spoken to one or two of the boys there who are disappointed and said, 'The main thing is you end up being a player in the Premier League' and I think they’ve got one or two with a good chance of that."

 Download full results click here

To view this season's league tables, click here

You can follow developments in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the hashtag #BU21PL

Key Points

  • Manchester United manager Warren Joyce praises team after they win Barclays U21 Premier League
  • United have to come from behind to defeat Tottenham in Old Trafford final
  • Joyce is also impressed with Tottenham's performances this season

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