A Tough Game

Jerry Gill looks back on United defeat

Jerry Gill acknowledges that Wolves Under-18s underwent a tough day against Manchester United at the weekend – but they will learn from the experience and take the positives.

The Wolves Academy coach saw his side 5-0 adrift shortly after half an hour at the hands of a star-studded United outfit at Compton Park on Saturday.

Things could have got worse, but the team showed character and determination to rally and ‘win’ the second half, captain Cameron John and Ryan Giles finding the net in an eventual 5-2 defeat.

“It was a tough game and fully what we expected,” said Gill.

They are top of the league and played some really good stuff under their coach Kieran McKenna, who was joined them from Tottenham.

“They are looking like a Tottenham side in the patterns of play and were really difficult to play against.

“We were a lot younger than them – they had far more second years in their team and they are quality players, as you would expect.

“It was always going to be a tough task but we are disappointed in how we conceded so many goals in such a short period of time.

“We were 5-0 down after 31 minutes.

“At that stage you think it could be anything – and you are wondering how the lads are going to respond.

“Some of the football they played in that time was the best I have seen from any Under-18 team for a long, long time.

“Our boys found it really difficult – not tactically, just the quality that United had with their speed, ball speed, combinations and movement off the ball.”

Gill continued:   “At half time we had a decision and I said one of two things could happen.

“We could either capitulate and fold and go under.

“Or we could have a go and try and win or draw the second half.

“I made the decision to stay out on the pitch at half time and not come back in to the dressing room.

“I thought we were in it now, and we just stayed out there to speak as a group.

“We sat there for the while of the half time break and just spoke about how we could get ourselves in a position where we could take a bit of pride away from the game.

“We were 5-0 down, but we had to look to what positives we were going to take away from the game.

“And that is what we did really.

“We asked our two wide players to get narrower as our midfield three had found it really difficult against their midfield three.

“We went a little bit deeper in our press and frustrated them a little bit.

“It is not often that we say we are going to give away ball possession and just defend for a spell to try and make it difficult for the other team.

“But we had to – with the way the game had gone we had no choice.

“Within that what we ended up showing was that we are a really good counter attacking team and that gave us food for thought as coaches.

“In the end it was a really respectable second half, and we won it 2-0.

“Cameron John got a goal and then Ryan scored a really good individual goal.

“We were the better team in little spells during the second half as well.”

And it is in learning both from the first half challenge and improvement in the second that Gill says the players will continue to develop and push on, an away game at Blackburn next on the agenda on Saturday.

He added: “It was a tough day and we lost 5-2, but we will take that second bit and learn from it.

“We ended up with four Under-16s in the squad  and only four second years on the pitch.

“So the young boys will learn from it, and we will learn from it as coaches as well - we learn a lot about the players in games like that.

“We had been on a decent run with the West Brom game and following that up with friendly wins against Oxford and the Nike Academy.

“Now we go for another tough challenge at Blackburn and it is all about producing the right response to the defeat against Manchester United.

“We will be consistent with the lads and keep doing the right things and making sure the lads continue to develop.

“The best thing after a defeat is that there is always another game and a chance to do something about it.”