Man City’s next generation are already eyeing trophies in 2023

Manchester City’s U18 Premier League title-winner Dire Mebude is already looking to make a big step up next season, while his coach says there is a talented group of under-16’s who are looking to replace the current group.

City had already won their U18 Northern league, and were at Southampton on Thursday to contest the national title they had won for the previous two seasons. After falling behind infront of 13,000 home fans, City responded in style with Mebude setting up Tai Sodje and then scoring a fine goal of his own to grab what would turn out to be the winner.

The triumph means City have now won a national league or cup at every age group from under-16 to under-23, with the top two age groups securing back-to-back titles. Speaking after the game, Mebude praised the character of the U18 side, and admitted he is already looking to become a regular in the under-23s side next year.

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Speaking to City TV, he said: “It’s unreal, very good experience in front of these fans! 13,000, always good to win another trophy.

“At 1-0 down, all the [home] fans on their side, it was tough, but we always knew we’re a good enough team to get back in it. We were 1-0 down against United, so I reminded the boys of that situation and it lifted us back up.

“We need to recharge and see what happens next season. EDS hopefully, it will be very good next season, so see what happens.”

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His coach Ben Wilkinson offered a similar analysis of the game, and had particular praise for Mebude and fellow winger Carlos Borges.

“I’m delighted, it’s a great way to finish the league season. I think we’ve served it over the course of the league season, we’ve certainly got better as the season has gone on,” said Wilkinson.

“To come down here tonight and go 1-0 down as well, it was a bit of a test in character. We didn’t start the game that well. (I’m) really proud of the boys and everyone in the academy .

“It’s a great experience, an unbelievable experience. This is what we want the boys to have, get them as many development opportunities that might replicate what they might get. And see how they stand up when they get in these environments. When we conceded we were all quite calm. We stick to the process, whatever happens, positive, negative, if you stick to the process you’ll probably get what we want and deserve. It was a bit of a blow but there was so long left we we were always confident we’d come back.

“We’re blessed with excellent wings, not just [Mebude and Borges], there are more in the squad who are fantastic outlets for us. At this level they’re as good as anyone around. When we get them the ball 1v1, we’re confident they’ll produce for us.”

And with Mebude looking to step up to the U23s, Wilkinson said there is a talented group of under-16s ready to step up to the under-18 squad next season.

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He revealed: “Hopefully, what we’ve done well in recent years is create a winning culture. The younger boys are always looking up, most of these were in the 16s last year looking thinking ‘can we do the same’. The environment’s healthy in that respect. We’ve got another good group coming up next year so that will be the challenge.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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