VIDEO: 'Food for thought'
Friday, 03 September, 2010
Head Coach delighted with performance in season opener.
Watch video highlights of the game now by clicking here.
Head Coach Noel Blake saw his side make a fine start to the new season with a comfortable victory against Slovakia in Crewe but it wasn’t just the result that pleased him as the all-round performance impressed everyone present at Gresty Road.
Goals from Liverpool pair Michael Ngoo, on his England debut, and Jonjo Shelvey separated the teams but the scoreline could have been much wider as the Young Lions put on a fine footballing display from the first whistle to the last.
“The victory is one thing, and that’s always a good start for a new year group,” said Blake. “But I was absolutely delighted with the performance from start to finish.
“I thought we controlled the tempo of the game and scored two very good goals but I was most pleased with our passing and our game management in particular.
“That’s something we’ve spoken about a lot and it really pleased me, so it’s good food for thought from the first game.”
Even more impressive was the fact that out of the 18 men that Blake selected in his squad, half of them are still a year younger than the year group they’re playing with and after coming straight into U19s football from their European U17 Championship success in the summer, Blake was keen to see how they would cope.
“This group, the '92 and '93 year groups which I’ve known since they were 16, came back from winning the European U17 Championships where they were magnificent,” he added.
“One of the reasons that I brought them all here for this game was to ask them: how do you manage success?
“I didn’t want to pressure them too much but I wanted them to prove to us that they were ready to play in the U19s and that was a big test for them.
“But they have been great in training and an absolute delight to work with, so we know this is a good crop. There will be bigger tests for them along the way, but for their first start tonight, they did very, very well.”
Blake still sees room for improvement though, particularly in front of goal and being wary of getting caught on the break.
“Whilst I was delighted with a lot of things, we got caught on the counter attack a couple of times and I’m greedy, so I didn’t like that and it’s something we’ll need to rectify as the campaign goes along,” he explained.
“We should have scored more too, and again I’m being greedy, as especially in the first half when we dominated, I was disappointed we didn’t come in two or three up.
“Overall though, I’m very pleased.”
The U19s are next in action in October when they travel to Belgium for the First Qualifying Round of the European U19 Championship and face their hosts, Cyprus and Albania.