The EDS were lucky to come away with a 1-1 draw under the Friday night lights of the Boleyn ground. The Biblical rain combined with the familiar problems at the heart of the EDS to serve up a nervous evening. Following below are the main talking points…
The EDS Has a Problem
Somewhere in between an hour and 70 minutes into the game, a strange thing happens to the EDS; you can almost see the confidence and concentration go out of them. A lot of games have been lost from winning positions towards the back end of the second half and this year seems to be carrying on that trend. The only reason they didn’t lose on Friday night was luck.
City took the lead after about 70 minutes courtesy of a deflected Adam Drury cross and things were looking rosy after that. The lads looked to be in control, looked strong. But then they wilted for no apparent reason. West Ham took advantage, scored a fine equaliser from outside the box and then almost a winner which was ruled out for offside in the dying seconds.
West Ham are a very good team from an outstanding academy, but there is no excuse for letting a team back into the game, and almost letting them win, when you’re winning and in total control with less than 20 minutes on the clock. Much more of that sort of behaviour and the EDS wll be the true holders of the term ‘Typical City’.
There has been much talk over the Summer regarding all the teams in all the age groups playing in the same way to foster a ‘City style’. The EDS has clearly taken this on board. When going forward, the full backs redefined the concept of hugging the touchline. Seko Fofana displayed the physical style and running gait of Toure in the middle. When defending, the midfield got back to cover and the centre backs were strong in the air and on the ground. There was a clear emphasis on passing it out rather than kicking it as far as possible. All of that was very encouraging to see in person as people saying things like “an holistic approach” mean nothing until you can see it in front of you.
The EDS also seems to suffer from similar weaknesses to the senior side. Both full backs, Shay Facey and Greg Leigh, had a worrying propensity to completely ignore the man at the far post in favour of further covering the centre backs. This was not necessary as West Ham only had one up top and led to five or six clear chances from corners and crosses which Ian Lawlor in goal did well to keep out. Both full backs also seemed too eager to go forward without the necessary back tracking. Perhaps they’ve been watching one too many videos of Micah Richards and not enough of Pablo Zabaleta. Regardless, West Ham’s wingers were both superb players and needed more attention from our defenders.
Watching Gareth Barry go on loan to Everton was hard. It felt like sending your child to a new school with his lunchbox, knowing you’ll never see him again. Without wanting to over egg the pudding, the thought of Barry in an Everton shirt makes me very sad.
Step forward then, George Evans. He was the only EDS player of any distinction against West Ham, spending the game sat in front of the defence, a super deluxe version of Barry, who had all of the latter’s vision, range of passing and ability to read the game, but supplemented it with a more aggressive attacking instinct and greater pace. Evans was the only voice out there giving any audible direction and the only one showing leadership, both vocally and though his actions.
I strongly urge all City fans to get to know this lad a bit better as, barring an horrible injury, he will be in the first team squad within the next two years.
It was clear how the loss of a few key players over the summer affected the EDS team. Denis Suarez’s departure to Barcelona and the loaning out of Rusnak have left an obvious hole in the team which it will take time to fill. As above, Evans is doing his best but you cannot carry the team alone from the base of midfield – At the end of the day, you need goals and one of our attackers needs to step up. Marco Lopes and Jordy Hiwula are the most obvious heirs in this case.
In most youth teams there are a couple of players who seem to be taller, louder and stronger than everyone else. The aforementioned Evans aside, this just wasn’t the case yet. Hopefully a few of the lads grow into it.
It will never be not-weird seeing him prowl the touchline in a City coat. It’s great, but weird.
Finally, it cost me £3 to get in to watch two of the best youth teams in the country. There would have to be an execution on the pitch at half time to make it bad value for money. It was a great evening out and I implore other Blues to get to the EDS games if at all possible. These lads work hard and deserve the support.
Written by Alex Timperley. Follow him on Twitter.