In the last week or so, a trio of City youngsters were handed new deals – something I was particularly pleased about. It’s often said that City as a club, have a tendency to neglect youth, yet with the new City Football Academy expected to be ready to use later this month, I personally don’t buy into this idea.
Currently, the first team is not packed with academy graduates, but that’s not to say we do not have faith in youth. Recently, Jose Angel Pozo starred on his debut, a host of loanees are impressing, while Patrick Vieira and Jason Wilcox have seen their sides enjoy a fine run of form. All the signs are positive, and so to see a batch of young players rewarded with new contracts is greatly encouraging.
But anyway, the purpose of this piece is to give a bit of a lowdown on the players, my view on them as a player and what they bring to the table.
I’ve only been able to see this lad once in the flesh, but I came away from Platt Lane having witnessed quite a performance. On a cold Saturday morning, Jason Wilcox’s U18’s hosted last season’s BU18PL champions Everton and delivered a sterling display to win 2-0. (You can read my piece on that game here) Anglo-Nigerian Adarabioyo marshalled the backline impeccably in this particular match, but also showed great composure on the ball – seemingly always picking the right pass and generally looking unbelievably comfortable on the ball. Moreover, he used his tall frame to his advantage; dominating any Everton attacker who fancied joining him in a duel.
As captain, he led his team commendably; constantly communicating with his teammates – something that tends to go under the radar in today’s game. He capped off a fantastic performance with a remarkable solo goal, which epitomised everything about his game – combining strength and power with a deft finish; one which you wouldn’t expect from a centre-back!
Aside from his new contract, he has also been selected for the U19 side in the UEFA Youth League, meaning he is already playing well above his age group. If he continues his development, he could well make up the step up to the first-team in the future.
Son of former City midfielder Kevin Glendon, George is without a doubt one of my favourite players in the EDS setup at the moment. As a regular watcher of Vieira’s side, I have seen the 19-year old establish himself as a vital cog in the side – something which has culminated in him being given the captaincy on a number of occasions this season.
I was fortunate to be at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford last season to see Vieira’s men defeat rivals United, with Glendon grabbing the winning goal in a 2-1 win. He played in an advanced role in midfield, with Emyr Huws and Seko Fofana completing the midfield trio. But it was when Huws’ loan move to Wigan came about that I began to notice a strong improvement in the Cheadle-born midfielder. Glendon took on the role of the deepest player in the midfield three and played a key part as City reached the UEFA Youth League Quarter Finals, BU21PL Play-offs and the U21 Premier League Cup final.
In terms of his qualities, Glendon is a great passer of the ball and rarely gives the ball away. A very tidy player, he is incredibly careful in possession; an attribute which is paramount to the way that City play at all levels. Whilst he is at his best on the ball, he doesn’t shy away from putting in a shift for the team, which is clearly important.
I believe he has what it takes to make the grade at City, but may need a loan move to begin with.
Finally, Ian Lawlor is the other player to sign a new deal; a deal that is well warranted. I’ve been able to watch Lawlor quite frequently over the last couple of seasons and he has all the qualities you look for in a goal. With an imposing 6ft 4 frame, the Irishman commands his area admirably and is just the sort of character you need for the backbone of the team. The 19-year old is extremely vocal in goal; endlessly instructing and organising his defence.
As well as boasting great communication skills, he is in fact a very reliable and talented goalkeeper. You always get the impression that he has a great save in his locker, and though Vieira sets his side to be up the opposite end of the pitch for large spells, Lawlor is capable of producing a match-winning save when called upon.
Something which I find quite striking with the shot-stopper is that he is exceptionally handy with his feet; a quality which is assuring for the outfielders. We have seen that in the modern game goalkeepers need to be comfortable on the ball; that is a skill which Lawlor has in abundance.
He is a permanent fixture in the Republic of Ireland U21 squad, and has even earned a call-up to Martin O’Neill’s first-team squad.
Although City have two great goalkeepers in Joe Hart and Willy Caballero, I deem Lawlor to be good enough to challenge them, after all he has already trained with them on a number of occasions.