Coach aims to restore a Dons tradition
New Under-21s coach Alan Reeves says he’s convinced talent is still out there to restore Wimbledon’s tradition of bringing young players through the ranks.
Alan, who played for the Dons between 1994 and 1998, recently returned to Wimbledon as Shaun North’s replacement.
And speaking to Dons Player ahead of tonight’s Under-21 fixture at Canvey Island, Alan (pictured centre with Neil Cox and Neal Ardley) talked passionately about improving the current crop and discovering new talent.
“The Under-21 players here are the best talents that have come through our youth system and my job is to coach them through the transition towards the first-team. “But I’ve got to trust them before I can say to Neal Ardley that they are good enough to be in the first-team. If not, then I would be letting the player and the club down. The quicker I can bring players through the better, but it may have to be done gradually.
“Wimbledon had a great record of bringing through young players in the 1990s. The current manager was one of those players who came through when I was here. They were all local lads and they went onto have careers in the Premier League. Surely, the talent must still be out there. It’s my job to work with the players we have now, along with a few acquisitions, and get them ready for the first-team.”
Alan, who holds the UEFA A licence qualification, says he has already spotted ways that he can improve individual players in the Under-21 squad. As a defender who played over 500 Football League games, he believes that Will Nightingale can make the step-up with a few adjustments to his game.
“I’ve had a chat with the Under-18s because they will be playing in games for the Under-21s from time to time,” added Reeves. “I’ve stressed to all of them and the Under-21s that they have great opportunities. The players have done so well to get where they are, but I told them that they don’t want to look back in 10 years and have regrets. They must give it their best shot. Players have different attributes, but all I’m asking is that they give everything. I will give everything to get the best out of them, but they must do the same in return.
“Will has all the attributes; he’s a good size, one of the fittest lads at the club and is quick. But he needs to channel his talents in the right direction. At times, he’s been like a bull in a china shop. He’s not played that many games at centre back – I played over 500 games as a professional at centre-back – and he is a player I can definitely help out.
“After the Chelsea game I showed him the DVD and pointed out improvements he could make with his positioning. He was following the striker and letting him dictate to him, but Will needs to be dictating the game to the striker. That will come with more training sessions and games. I will also identify stuff that the other lads are doing wrong and I’ll coach them how to do it correctly.”
.Under-21s focusIf you missed our preview of tonight’s match at Canvey Island, click on
Dons Player subscribers can watch the full eight-minute video interview with Alan on our premium channel, along with an interview with Tom Beere.