Manager delighted with work done at development level
Neal Ardley has singled out the work of Alan Reeves for special praise after a highly successful season at development level.
With players including Alfie Egan and Toby Sibbick having stepped up to the first-team in recent weeks, Alan has continued to play a vital role in bringing through players produced by our academy.
And Neal says that winning the Central League South West and South East League has shown that Alan has successfully instilled the competitive edge required.
“It is a really hard transition from the Under-18s to first-team football,” Neal told Dons Player. “A lot of academy football is about technical ability and game understanding, but sometimes the win and lose mentality can go. One of the remits I gave Alan was to try and marry the two up; they have to dig out a 0-0 draw sometimes when the opposition are on top, see their jobs through, and win ugly if they can. They also have to track runners, do their one-on-one defending and set pieces. Alan really pushes them on that and to end up being Champions in a tough league shows what a good job Alan has done. He has got that team working exactly how I want it.
“I need to be able to trust the players and see them being put through their paces by Alan. I need to see them coming into training knowing what it takes to win games of football. Alan has done a wonderful job and he deserves a big pat on the back, as do all the players. They have given everything. Sometimes in that group it is difficult because you have players coming in and out, but they have all done a tremendous job and we should all be proud of them.
“If you look at the players who have come through, including Will Nightingale, Alfie Egan, and Ryan Sweeney, it is such a crucial phase. Alan almost did a man to man job on Ryan Sweeney, working on his heading and aggression, and you look at how well he has done. Alan has to take the work that Mark Robinson and Jeremy Sauer have done, including getting the players to express themselves, play with both feet, understanding the game, and get that steel into their games. It is a combination that is massively needed because the biggest challenge for any young lad is when they leave the Under-18s and step-up to first-team football.”
Neal’s full interview ahead of Oldham tomorrow, with WDON’S Rob Cornell posing the questions, is on Dons Player.
Look out in tomorrow’s match day programme for an extensive two-page interview with Alan Reeves.