Manchester City take on Liverpool in Thursday’s FA Youth Cup Final aiming to win their first title since 2008.
In more recent years, the club have contested four of the last five Finals only to lose out against Chelsea on each occasion.
- The FA Youth Cup Final
- 7.45pm, Thursday 25 April 2019
- Academy Stadium
- Live on BT Sport
City’s U18s head coach Gareth Taylor will be leading his side into the Final, knowing that his players will benefit from the experience of being involved regardless of the result after a varied campaign in the competition.
The former Bristol Rovers, Crystal Palace, Manchester City, Burnley and Nottingham Forest player spoke to the official match programme ahead of the game.
Congratulations on reaching the FA Youth Cup Final, how do you assess your team’s run this season?
We’ve had a bit of everything in terms of the challenges in front of us. The third round game away at Clevedon was a classic Cup tie for us. We did our research and I saw them play against Sutton United in the previous round and it was a real introduction for the players to FA Youth Cup football. It was just before Christmas, under the lights on a muddy, heavy pitch and against a direct team. It was a fantastic challenge for the players. After that, we lost a player against Derby after a red card and had to defend a 2-1 lead for a long period of the game, then going to Bournemouth and playing on an exceptional pitch in a Premier League stadium before we faced West Brom who had a lot of scalps under their belt after beating the likes of Arsenal and Everton. The competition has been great for us.
City last won the Youth Cup back in 2008, but have come close and reached the Final a number of times over the years, so this is a stage which isn’t new to the academy…
We do have experience in the academy with people who’ve been involved previously so we can draw on that, but it’s new to most of the players and it’s new to me as it’s the first time I’ve ever taken the competition. But the bigger picture is for these players and where they’re going to go in their careers. We want to get players into our first team and that’s the really important thing. As much as we’d like to win the competition, we understand that this is another step in their progression. We’ve got so far and we just want to take one more step now.
You play Liverpool tonight, what do you make of them and their own progress to the Final this season?
They’re a good team. They score a lot of goals and have a real threat up top. They’re always very competitive and they’ve got quite a bit of fluidity to their team, in that the squad which has played in the Youth Cup has played together a lot in the league too, so they have that familiarity in their team.
As a competition, how do you see the FA Youth Cup and how important is it for the club’s younger players?
No matter what you go on to do in your career, you always remember playing in the Youth Cup so it’s great for the players to have that. I remember saying to the players, I still remember playing in this competition when I was a young player at Southampton. I remember the early rounds and then we lost in the semi-final to Arsenal. As a player, it’s something that stays with you.
You can read the full interview with Taylor in the official match programme for the Youth Cup Final, in which he also discusses his pride at seeing their academy players break through at City and elsewhere, and much more. Order a copy online.