Graeme Murty got the response he was looking for as his side delivered a solid defensive display in a goalless draw against third-place Norwich City to claim a well-earned point and a clean sheet.
U21 Lead Coach Graeme Murty reflected on his team's performance
“They showed good tenacity in making sure we had a better shape about us and a better desire to protect the goal. It’s a vast extreme, I think that shows you what youth and development football is like as you can go from those extremes.
“Even though it was 0-0 I thought there were opportunities in the game for both teams. We were much more satisfied with the way we defended our 18-yard box.”
Murty spoke about his main focus ahead of Norwich following the defeat against neighbours Middlesbrough
“We had an in-depth analysis of the goals and we talked about how easy their goals looked to score in comparison to the goals we scored.
“We seem to score outstanding goals that have a high technical level, and we concede really basic goals that are compounding one mistake onto another. I said to the players at the very start that if you make one mistake at this level you might get away with it but you can’t get away with three, four or five and we were making consistent mistakes.
“It’s a really good lesson for the players, the higher up you go the less mistakes you can make before you get punished and their feedback was if our structure behind the attack is not right, and our shape and press is not right you are going to get punished.
“As painful as it is and as tough as it is to take, and it was a tough day the learning they got from it and the understanding they have from it hopefully will stand them in good stead and I think they did better for the experience today.”
Murty was pleased with his team’s performance but acknowledged there are areas to improve on
“While we want them to be difficult to play against, we were far too rushed in the game, and we didn’t have enough control consistently.
“We seem to get really excited when there is an opportunity to break a line and that then lead to a decrease in our technique which is understandable in young players, but we need to understand it’s not always appropriate to go from end to end.
“We need to have a period of control; Norwich’s shape made it difficult to press and they kept the ball for a period, and we would go and try to score from one pass.
“Particularly with the wind as it was blowing down the pitch, we asked them not to play in straight lines and they did, and the wind took the ball straight to the goalkeeper consistently.
“We need to understand there are periods in the game where we are going to have the ball and you need to maximise those times to get control of the game and try and impose your style and formation on your opponent instead of having it done to you.
“I thought for far too long in the game we were reactive and then give them the ball back, then a period of defending then we give them the ball back.
“When we played consistent and competent passes, simply and smoothly we were quite good, and we had good passages of play.”