Fan reflects on Academy players' impact during pre-season.
Before the Lads head to Portugal, I thought it was important to look at the last three preseason matches.
The first thing the "driven-results-oriented-must-win" coach sees is obvious: three matches, three wins. Sunderland 5 Darlington 1883 1.
Sunderland 1 Carlisle 0. Sunderland 3 Hartlepool 0. Two clean sheets and a runaway match. That coach obviously checks in and feels happy going to Portugal. The forwards are firing, Fletcher is back in with two goals, Giaccherini got on the score sheet as did big Connor and new boy Jordi Gomez.
The defence seems to be coming along, both goalies have taken turns with our Italian boss Vito between the sticks and new boy Costel Pantilimon taking his turn as well.
But there's this other coach who wants to bring along the young players and develop them as well, I am a youth coach after all! Looking at SAFC.com's reports of the past three matches, the youngsters are playing their part in the wins, it shows in the reports of the games.
Here are a few samplings of just a few of the names: Agnew (2 games played), Cartwright (2), Gooch (2), Honeyman (3), and Mandron (2). Again, it's just a sampling, the U-21s have played a big part in the games, they've played huge parts in the Carlisle and Hartlepool games.
They've contributed right away in these matches when they've come in, even in the Darlington match. George Honeyman made his first team appearance in this game (as well as David Ferguson). Honeyman set up Steven Fletcher's second goal in the match, later Fletcher said "I've always admired George. It was fantastic that he's getting a chance to play. He did very well."
In the Carlisle game, Honeyman teamed up with Mikael Mandron to create the only goal of the match. Mandron was coming off of a great performance against the Southampton U21 team where he also had a nice finish. "I think the way we celebrated showed exactly what we are like as a team, we are very close and we have a great team spirit," Mandron said later.
Against Hartlepool where the team ran out an entire starting XI made up of Academy products our man Gus said: "They're young, show plenty of ability and know how to play together and it was nice for them to enjoy playing in front of so many people."
I think Gus is right, there is a wealth of talent coming out of the Academy that needs to be looked at, and I think Steven Fletcher is right too.
There's some great youth talent waiting in the wings at Sunderland, Lynden Gooch, George Honeyman, Mika Mandron, Andrew Cartwright, Joel Dixon and many others. Gus said it perfectly: "I think it's important we look at the youth in the Academy and give those players the opportunity to perform."
You are right about that, sir, there's a lot of great talent to pick from.