Disappointed Norwich City Under-18s players must learn from their FA Youth Cup exit at Watford – Neil Adams
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Winston Churchill once wrote: “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”
It is the type of philosophy which academy staff at Norwich City will today be reminding their disappointed Under-18 squad of, after they were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup at Watford.
The Under-18s, made up of largely different players to the team which lifted the prestigious trophy last season, froze under the spotlight at Vicarage Road on Saturday and found themselves 3-0 down after just 22 minutes.
The weight of expectation from last season’s success caused nerves to get the better of the young Canaries and, despite a spirited rally to reduce the deficit to 3-1, they had left themselves with a climb too high to conquer.
However Under-18s manager Neil Adams knows a young football player can sometimes learn just as much about the game in defeat, as in victory.
“Obviously the important thing here is that these players go and have professional careers,” the former Canaries midfielder said. “As disappointed as we all are now and as dejected as we all are about being knocked out of the competition, if they learn from it, use it as an experience that they don’t want to feel that too often, then all well and good, because these are big games at this level and we want many more of those players playing in a lot bigger games.”
Adams had warned about expecting too much from the latest crop of Under-18s ahead of the match. With the likes of Jacob and Josh Murphy, Cameron McGeehan and Harry Toffolo all now too old for the Under-18s team, Adams knew it was going to be a big challenge to repeat the FA Youth Cup success.
“We play every week in league games and some of the players play in Under-21 games,” Adams continued. “But it’s the FA Youth Cup and we’re the holders of it, and we are here at a main stadium (Vicarage Road) and it does bring a little bit of pressure but you have to deal with it.
“We started really slowly today and obviously that was compounded then by conceding the goal in the very first minute but we’ve just said to them they’ve got to deal with that, they’ve got to use their disappointment and dejection that they’re feeling now to good use, because obviously if they are going to have careers in the game then this is part and parcel of it, but it’s how they deal with it.
“So we’ll pick them up again and see if we can get back to the standards that we know we are capable of from the start.”
n For a full match report, ratings and a round-up of photos, see today’s Eastern Daily Press or Norwich Evening News.