Home Swansea City

The Under-23s

Shocked to see that our U-23s are bottom of their group in League 2, with only 2 wins out of 11 so far this season. I knew we'd lost a few games but I didn't realise things were that bad. And that's despite starting against Charlton with Rushesha, Dan Williams, Brandon Cooper, Obafemi and Whittaker.



  • So, thoughts on what's happening with the U23s? It appears that RM wants them to play the same way as the first team, although he doesn't necessarily have the players to make that work.

    If one of our talented young players was sent out on loan to a club that played him out of position and was clearly knocking his confidence, we'd be up in arms and demanding a recall.

    Surely it's better for them to be playing the system they are familiar with and good at, than to be forced into playing a system that doesn't work for them?

  • I see the posters who believe RM can do no right are perpepuating this discussion.

  • I am trying to get a discussion going, you are trying to shut it down. Wonder why that is?

    Straight question - would you rather see the U23s play a style they are not suited to, lose and see their confidence drain, or play a way that uses their strengths, win and develop as footballers?

    Some might say that if the manager only has a use for players who can cope with 3 CBs and a pair of wingbacks, the U23s need to get with the project or ship out.

    But as discussed previously, many clubs ensure their U23s play a different formation from the senior team.

    If, as a result, we develop the odd FB or winger who the 1st XI have no use for, we can sell them at a profit. The CBs, midfielders and strikers will be fine whatever happens.

  • Strange post, did you think this observation added any value to the discussion? Try adding a counter view or engaging in discussion, rather than dropping into the thread to add nothing.

    The point about the change in style for the u23s is a good one, they are having an awful season and it's hard to see how these prospects will develop in a losing side.

    I wonder if the top clubs with a clear identity also have their youth teams play in an identical style to the first team, I believe Jong Ajax do but further than that I don't know.

  • Hadn't seen this new thread so I will repeat my question in here:

    Do the top clubs with a clear identity also have their youth teams play in an identical style to the first team, I believe Jong Ajax do but further than that I don't know.

  • I suggest you ask @niallo11 or @RGD who watch them play regularly.

    From what I have heard we have always played a passing game where players are comfortable with the ball .

    Past players who have played in the first team after coming through the system , Joe Rodon , Connor Roberts , Oli Mcburnie , Dan James , Josh Sheehan Brandon Cooper , Dan Williams all like to get the ball down and play , there are others I haven't mentioned.

  • Not shutting anything down just reflecting your own negative comment on another thread back to you.

    Anyway happy to engage in a conversation about the u23s

    Your first question

    Straight question - would you rather see the U23s play a style they are not suited to, lose and see their confidence drain, or play a way that uses their strengths, win and develop as footballers?

    As an side, before I reply, its not a straight question its a loaded question. for example who says its a style they arent suited to, who says their confidence is draining, and if not the current way which way suits their strengths, who says if they play to their strengths they will win and if they dont learn a new way to play because it is hard, how exactly are they developing?

    If as an u23 you come to Swansea and expect to not play a possession style, then I would suggest someone has made a mistake, and its probably the player, as its one of the things we are known for. Rarely is not doing something becuase it is hard, the right long term reponse. It didnt take our u23s very long under GP to learn to play his possession style, because possession football is how they had been taught over many years and it took them years to be successful as an u23 team

    So the question is, is the new RM way of playing too difficult for the u23s to learn to play? Is it suited to the players, well if they have come to Swansea they should have some aptitude for playing possession football so perhaps perserverance if required. There is the possibility that it isnt being implemented well by the Academy.

    Giving up on something a few weeks after it has started to be implemented, doesnt appear to be a recipe for success for any approach. Give them a season at it and see.

  • There you go again.

    No one is saying the U-23s should not play possession football. It's what they have done for years. Free-flowing, passing, possession football. With full backs and wingers. It's the FORMATION that has them confused as hell.

    Read @niallo11's excellent match report above. We tried to play out from the back three and got caught in possession. Our wide players were frequently isolated. Exactly what happens when the opposition take the game to the senior team.

    I repeat, this is not about possession football. Endlessly repeating that will not make it true.

  • Just to be clear what you are saying is you dont like the formation and you want RM to change it to something you prefer.

    Just to be clear it is 4-2-3-1 or something else you advise RM to change to?

  • edited November 2021

    Personally I think it makes perfect sense to get the Under 23s to play in the same style as the first team, as ultimately you'd want those youngsters to step up to the first team at some point and fit in as seamlessly as possible.

    It also makes prudent financial sense, why buy players when you can mould your own so to speak.

    Regardless of the type of players that are in the Academy, we have seen at a first team level what some time and coaching can do to change a teams style and subsequent adaptation by the players involved. Ryan Bennett epitomises this adaptation IMO.

    I'd imagine, younger players may well respond and adapt just as much as the first team players have, given the time and correct coaching of course.

    No doubt the guys on here such as @niallo11 @RGD @PAJ , etc., will have a better idea of the overall state of the Under 23s, but I'm sure any change in style is going to take time..... and patience.

  • I am saying that the current attempt to force the U23s to play the same formation as the senior team is not working, I suspect because we don't have players who can do the wing-back role. @Webmaster makes some good points, but I'd ask this question: if we have a naturally gifted winger or full-back in the academy - someone with the ability to be genuinely world class - are we going to say to them 'sorry son, we are going to let you go, you don't have what it takes to be a wing-back'? How many of the full-backs we have had over the past decade would have made the grade on that basis?

    I don't want Martin to change the formation to something I prefer, I want him to change it to something that the young players we have can work with.

    Also, I'd prefer it if the first team manager concentrated on his day job of managing the first team and allowed the U23s coaching staff to get on with their job. And what the hell are we paying Mark Allen for if Russell Martin is running everything?

  • Then ask the young players if they like it as the first team squad certainly do

  • I bet they loved losing so many games this season. What footballer wouldn't?

  • Just to add to the topic, prior to my house move I saw enough U23 matches to have the impression that Graham Potter didn’t impose his passing style on to the U23’s as much as his assistant Billy Reid watched the team, and even during the Toshack and Waggy days there was no comparison in the way they played to the way RM wants his teams to play. No back three in those days just a flat back four with at least one wide man and sometimes two.

    Is it imperative that the U18’s and U23’s play the same way as the first team, I don’t think so, especially the U18’s. At that level, I believe it is vital young scholars, most of them living away from home for the first time, get a broad coaching experience of what the game is all about, and as much as one can compare young apprentices / trainees entering any workplace, would you honestly train young academics in just one role in any varied workplace during the term of their scholarship?

    Is the system right for the U23’s? If one has the opinion that there should be a progression curve from that level to the first team then the answer is yes. At this moment in time with poor performances, results and matches ridden with mistakes perhaps its more of a problem with the coaching the youngsters are getting in between matches that really needs addressing. 

  • Norwich's Sporting director Stuart Webber said he wanted his development sides playing 4-4-2 as that maximised the number of strikers and left-sided players on the pitch, which are the hardest positions to buy.

    There's very little point in mirroring the first team's system in the u23s. By the time some of these lads get to senior football it will in all likelihood be another manager they're playing for (either here or elsewhere). They're different players with different strengths and weaknesses to what our first team has available. Particularly with such a unique system you've got to wonder how useful it will be to the development of these young players. Jacob Jones won't be asked to play centre half anywhere else at his height.

    You're also asking coaches to teach someone else's system, which is going to leave a lot of things lost in translation.

  • I see O'Leary has been given a load of space on the Official Site to explain why it's OK for the Under 23s to be doing so badly. The defensive comms strategy is kicking in and the line people have been told to take is, 'we are all backing Martin 100%'

    Phil Sumbler wrote this three days ago:

    "From what I have been told there is – thankfully – no discussions around the departure of Martin.  It is not even a point that has been raised and dismissed which tells you how far it is from the agenda.  All the talk over the past two months has been the budgets, the targets and the strategy for the new window and that is what is occupying the bulk of the time of those who are paid to make those things happen for us."

    Phil will of course be close to the Trust reps on the board, but to the best of my knowledge there hasn't been a board meeting for a few months so this is presumably coming from Winter (whose P45 must surely be next on the printer if Martin goes) and possibly Silverstein?

  • There's very little point in mirroring the first team's system in the u23s. By the time some of these lads get to senior football it will in all likelihood be another manager they're playing for (either here or elsewhere).

    I just want to flag this statement @jasper_T because it really does sum up the parlous state that we find ourselves in when we lose our identity.

    Absolutely 100% the academy teams should tactically and style wise mirror the first team - and when a manager moves on we should be recruiting a replacement that we have identified to provide continuity of the club identity.

    With the history of Monk, Clement,Cooper et al the very mention of the term PLAN B makes me want to put my fist through the drywall.

  • Cadleigh,

    another attack this time from a different angle, this time via KoL's article in the OS.

    At this moment in time, and for some months, the Trust have become an almost invisible shareholder of the football club, such is their lack of direction and inability to make a decision to challenge the club's former directors and no doubt goes hand in hand when even a 21% holding has no leverage whatsoever in real decision making within an organisation.

    Gone are the days when Trevor Birch challenged our owners and decisions were made that was best for the club while the appointment of Julian Winter gave supporters the suspicions all along where his loyalty lay.

  • I think it has been established beyond doubt on here that some football teams play the same style at both senior and under-23 level and some don’t as a matter of policy. Both can be done successfully. What is much more unusual is for a club to deliberately force a playing style on a group of young players that does not work for them and to persist with it regardless of the consequences.

  • Sounds to me like we are in agreement - just when we need someone to speak truth to Martin and Winter, the Trust is in no shape to do it and all the other adults have left.

  • There is a difference between adopting the same broad philosophical approach, and directly mirroring the specific system of a particular manager. When Martin leaves are we supposed to pick another manager who uses a 5-2-2-1 in the same way in order to "preserve the club identity"? Or is Martin the poor choice because he doesn't use the same shape that Martinez, Rodgers, Laudrup did?

    Football is constantly evolving. Different tactics become more and less popular over time. Will the 16 and 17 year olds now getting games in the u23s be playing in the Russel Martin 2021 system when they make their mark at senior level here or elsewhere? Should Harry Jones be taught to play middle centre half given Russell doesn't utilise a conventional right back? Or maybe getting rid of him is the way to go?

    The u23s have always tried to play "the right way". Most academy teams do now, there's not many coaching smashing it into the channels as plan a, b or c. And there's a lot to be said for winning games at that level. When we were relegated Potter inherited a strong group who were used to winning games and trophies with each other. They'd developed a mentality and expectation in themselves and their teammates. They hadn't been mirroring Ostersunds style of play, but made the transition very effectively nonetheless. Strange that.

  • I'd be very interested to get the views of @RGD , @niallo11 , @jasper_T and any others that watch the U23s in relation to this recent article on the official website. How do your perceptions marry up with KOL's?


  • U23's have been a route to riches with Dan, Joe Connor and Oli producing fees of £50m between them

    That has kept the club solvent

    So the style of play is secondary to player development into the first team

    2 years and RM will be gone after all

    What we want is for the manager to talent spot from the U23's instead of signing other clubs' youngsters

  • Don't forget that besides having a seam of talent come through the academy at the same time, money was paid out for Dan and Oli to add to the existing squad.

  • edited January 3

    Up to a point. Would it not be better to have an 18 year old amazing the scouts with their skills in a successful under-23s but unable to get into the first XI because of the difference in playing style than to have them lose game after game, unwatched by other clubs, just so they can learn the system of a manager passing through?

    It is nice if we can get a couple of years of senior team performances along the way, but being able to sell at a profit is key, no?

    At the current rate I don’t see many making the step up (Martin seems hell bent on recruiting externally) or going for any serious money

  • We don't have the same pull that a PL academy did so we aren't going to produce so many for the first team or that we can sell on for big fees

    Dan Williams and Brandon C should be thereabouts for the first team but have been mishandled and now need game time

    Steve Benda should have been but has been mishandled and now has the yips until he gets another club

    None of that reflects well on RM

    The regime feels very temporary to me

  • "That’s what the club has done for many years. We’ve always had a core of players within the first-team squad that have come through the system. It’s our job to continue that.”

    That's nonsense quite frankly. We produced sod all in the PL years, and had a single crop come through after relegation. McBurnie was 19 and had senior experience elsewhere when we signed him for a few hundred thousand pounds, he spent more time out on loan than in our system. Fulton the same, six figure fee, product of another academy. Reality is we're a below-average academy producer dining out on one successful year, and if Carvalhal hadn't bottled his last 10 games we might have never seen half those lads make their breakthroughs with us. Plenty of Cat 2 academies are churning out 1 or 2 names a year for the first team environment, we ain't special.

    We've got good young players on the books, and play at a level where we should be able to give them opportunities. Cabango has had to fight tooth and nail to get games over a series of PL loanees, all while the club pats itself on the back for its supposed academy success.

  • Yes it's simple really

    For a player to develop they need opportunities to play, on loan or at home

    For whatever reason no opportunity has been offered to speak of to Brandon C, Dan W and insufficient opportunity to a number of others like Cabango where he is barely playing enough to stay tuned up and most recently has played out of position

    Kyle Joseph Jordan G and Ollie C have at least been getting games and getting tuned up to the men's game

  • I wouldn't say that there hasn't been any opportunities / enquiries for some of our young pros to go out on loan, over the years there were instances when one or two of our youngsters refused to take that opportunity.

    What also needs to be considered is balancing the squad by allowing players to go out on loan when new recruits arrive at the club. It's just five days since the window has been opened and what with the lack of numbers in recent 1st team training sessions whatever opportunities lined up are no doubt on hold.

    Saturday's Cup tie which allows 5 substitutes to be used from the 9 selected should hopefully see the likes of Congreve, Cotterill, Lloyd, McFayden and possibly Dylan Morgan.

  • What little I have seen of McFayden he seems a player of interest. he seems physically more mature than some of the other youngsters, looks to have decent quality and most importantly (as a wing back) is in a position with a clear route to the first team - especially if we cash in on Bidwell.

    Any thoughts from our U23 correspondents?

Sign In or Register to comment.