The Man City first team message that inspired U23s to win title in front of hostile Leeds crowd



Manchester City’s youngsters compared Elland Road to the Wanda Metropolitano as they put themselves in the shoes of the first team to win the Premier League 2 title on Friday.

It looked like City’s coronation would have to be delayed as Leeds took an early lead front of a PL2-record crowd of 21,000 at Elland Road. But Cole Palmer inspired a comeback that had the young Blues ahead within the next six minutes, and Liam Delap sealed a hard-fought win at the clock ticked over 90 minutes.

The home fans were loud and passionate in getting behind their team, as well as booing any City player they felt had done wrong in the game. And EDS manager Brian Barry-Murphy said after the game that the youngsters had compared the atmosphere to the senior team’s trip to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League recently.

ALSO READ: Pep Guardiola praises Man City U23s after clinching Premier League 2 title

He told MEN Sport: “I think the occasion felt as if it was the perfect combination of a season. We went though all kinds of tests, in Europe, in the EFL Trophy, players being injured. To come here with such a home following was brilliant.

“I was watching really closely to see how we reacted to different decisions, phases of the game, all those aspects. They’re priceless in terms of watching the players’ behavior in different situations.

“It was a tough game, Leeds were strong, buoyed by that sense within the stadium. It’s hard to compare but our lads were saying what it must have been like for the first team at Atletico Madrid, that swell of emotion in the stadium. It does influence the flow of the game so to come through that and manage the game.

“Some of our play was good and dangerous, more on the counter than normal. We didn’t have many sustained spells of possession but that can be down to the nature of the game and the opposition. There’s loads I’ll take away from the game and feed back to the players when it dies down.”

From a players’ perspective, influential midfielder Romeo Lavia said he could see their opponents react to the backing of the crowd, right up until Delap’s late clincher.

“It’s crazy, you can really see the influence of the crowd,” he said.

“They weren’t giving up because of the crowd. It was good for us to know how to deal with it and it’ll definitely help in the future.”

And of the under-23 integration with the City first team, Lavia revealed to CityTV that the senior squad were giving him advice for the big game — but also putting pressure on them ahead of the next first team training session on Sunday.

“I’ve learned a lot from first team players,” I explained.

“I’ve asked advice from them if they’ve been in the same situations to see if they can help me to know how to deal with the fact I come down [to the U23s], but it’s not coming down, it’s still my age. It’s easier with their help to deal with it.

“They all were after us, saying we had to win otherwise it would have been tough for us on Sunday! They’re happy for us.”

And defend Shea Charles said the Blues will only learn from such a hostile atmosphere at Elland Road.

He said: “It was really enjoyable to play that game. Especially coming out with a win. The atmosphere is new for us as a team but it only helps us, pushes us to do our thing and play more.”




www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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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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