Manchester City’s youth teams had their ups and downs in September, with an injury-depleted Under-23s side often borrowing the U18s’ better players.
The club do not have high hopes for the Elite Development Squad this season; with a number of players out on loan, surviving in the Premier League 2 is said to be the aim behind the scenes. However, the EDS are actually third in the table, just one point off the top.
To sum up their somewhat strange predicament, they are the division’s top scorers with 20 goals, but they have also conceded 20 goals, more than any other team.
There was also a big victory in the Checkatrade Trophy, but the U19s were well beaten in the Uefa Youth League, the priority competition for City this season.
The U18s showed that there is plenty of talent coming through the ranks at the Etihad Stadium, with several youngsters starring after stepping up to the U23s, although the team itself only won one of four games in September.
Elite Development Squad (Under-23s)
Rabbi Matondo (Credit: Manchester City)
Rabbi Matondo, who scored three times for the EDS in August, bagged a hat-trick in September in what was an up-and-down month for Paul Harsley’s side.
City made strides forward in the Checkatrade Trophy but were resoundingly beaten in the Uefa Youth League, a competition that the club had hoped to do well in having reached the semi-finals last season.
After starting September with a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham, despite dominating possession, shots, shots on target and corners, City’s U19s were then beaten 4-1 by Lyon.
The Blues were chasing the game throughout and they were unable to build on Felix Nmecha’s goal, which had cut the French side’s advantage to just one.
A young EDS side, with several players borrowed from the U18s to cover for injuries, then bounced back with a 3-2 victory against Derby. Felix Nmecha, 17, and 18-year-olds Lorenzo Gonzales and Benjamin Garre bagged City’s goals. Nmecha opened the scoring with a fine curling effort and also set up Gonzalez, while Garre finished off a fine assist by Adrian Bernabe, who made his debut for Pep Guardiola’s senior side against Oxford in the Carabao Cup.
City then beat Crewe 4-1 in the Checkatrade Trophy, with Tom Dele-Bashiru, Gonzalez, Taylor Richards (penalty) and 17-year-old Henri Ogunby getting the goals.
They rounded off the month with another 4-1 victory, at Swansea, where Matondo grabbed his hat-trick. The 18-year-old proved deadly when put through on goal, with Tom Dele-Bashiru and Ian Carlo Poveda (twice) providing fine through balls. Jeremie Frimpong, 17, also got on the scoresheet.
(Credit: Manchester City)
Keke Simmonds was the stand-out performer for City’s U18s in September, although it was a poor month results-wise for the team.
Simmonds scored four of City’s six goals last month, although only one of those came in victory.
City began the month with a 2-2 draw against Derby, with Simmonds scoring both, and were unfortunate to draw 1-1 with Sunderland in their next game, as the 17-year-old again got on the scoresheet.
Simmonds has been at City since he was eight and has proven to be a dangerous option whether playing on the left or through the middle of a front three as he has come up through the ranks.
The Blues slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Everton – with several players called up to the U23s to cover for injuries – before bouncing back to beat Leicester by the same scoreline in the Premier League Cup. Simmonds opened the scoring before Lewis Fiorini, who had scored in each of City’s first three games, added a double.
D’Margio Wright-Phillips and highly rated Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, who both trained with Guardiola’s senior side last month, also showed flashes of their potential.
Henri Ogunby, who hit a hat-trick in August, did not get on the scoresheet for the U18s but did when coming on as a substitute for the U23s.
Manu Garcia was named in L’Equipe’s team of the week following his performance in Toulouse’s 2-1 victory over Guingamp at the start of September. The 20-year-old Spanish playmaker picked up his first assist for the club in a 66-minute appearance. He played regularly in Ligue 1 last month, featuring in every game and completing the full 90 minutes for the first time, albeit in defeat to Saint-Etienne.
Brandon Barker, 22, also kicked off the month with an assist for Preston, but he sat out the next game and was restricted to late appearances off the bench for the club’s two following Championship games, before being reinstated, in a central striker role, for defeat at West Brom.
Girona, City’s sister club, won their first match of September and grabbed an impressive 2-2 draw at Barcelona in September, before losing to Betis and drawing with Huesca. Douglas Luiz was named on the bench for the draw at Camp Nou but started Girona’s other three games last month, while Aleix Garcia started against Barca and Huesca, though he was withdrawn at half-time against Messi & Co. Patrick Roberts came off the bench for 17 minutes in the win against Celta and draw with Betis.
Tosin Adarabioyo started five games for West Brom in August, but of the Baggies’ five league games in September he played just two minutes. He did play 90 minutes in the Carabao Cup, though that was a 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace.