Jerry Gill's thoughts on opening day win
Jerry Gill has challenged his Academy Under-18 squad to maintain the high standards set on the opening day after an impressive 5-2 victory against Sunderland.
The Wolves youngsters made a fine start to the new league season at Compton Park, coming from behind to run out convincing winners thanks to goals from Brad Carr (2), Dom Moan, Nik Tavares and Ryan Giles.
“It was a fantastic start to the season,” said Gill.
“There is always a bit of apprehension going into the first league game of the season.
“What we’d done in the week is go through Sunderland’s clips to see how they played, and we decided to match them up.
“I thought the lads did that really well and the style of our play and the speed we attacked and the amount of men we got forward was really good.
“That showed itself in the five goals that we scored which was great for the first game.
“We were a little bit loose in the goals we conceded.
“But if we are as quick and dynamic as we were going forward we should score quite a few goals this season.”
It was also an early test of character for Gill’s young team, which included only three second year scholars with the remainder made up of first years and Under-16s.
To concede first in the game, and respond, gave the coach a lot of confidence.
“We went behind in the game and it was particularly pleasing to come back.
“Going behind in games during pre-season we struggled a little bit and the same happened last season.
“But on Saturday the reaction to going a goal down was fantastic.
“The boys rolled their sleeves up and had a go at it and you could see that we were a real threat and always looked like we were going to score.
“It was a tough game and Sunderland had a right good go at it.
“We had a young team, just three second year scholars and then the rest first years and a couple of Under-16s in Taylor Perry and Austin Samuels.
“That shows us that we have got players underneath who are capable of playing in the Under-18s, and we also have a couple of Under-18s working with Scott and the Under-23s.
“We also had a couple of second years on the bench and that shows that with us and Under-18 football, whoever we consider the best team for that particular game will play.”
The onus at Academy level at Wolves has always been on developing players and testing them to give them the best possible chance of progressing all the way through to the senior ranks.
Hence why often scholars are playing well above their age groups and sometimes results suffer.
So while winning may not be everything at Under-18 level, Gill believes it is part of the bigger picture and that building a winning mentality is certainly one of the ambitions.
“Winning is not paramount but it does help,” he said.
“We have done six or seven weeks of pre season and the lads’ fitness levels look terrific.
“Looking at the data from Saturday they covered a lot of distance but it wasn’t just about the distance – it was the distance covered at high speed.
“We were attacking with dynamic pace and have players who can counter attack really quickly, and two wingers in Brad and Ryan who were really effective in one on ones.
“The lads took our gameplan into the game without the ball as well.
“The shape was good and we were compact and then had players to spring off that.
“But it is just a start and we are not getting carried away.
“Sunderland had a fairly young team too but it was still a really good start.
:What winning does is breed confidence, and when the players are confident then they will try things.
“It is a great start but there is a lot of hard work ahead of the Middlesbrough game on Saturday.
“We have re-iterated that they need to work as they did last week this week.
“We will be leaving at 7am for a 1pm kick off on Saturday so it will be a different sort of challenge against a very good Middlesbrough team.”