• TJ

James McAtee bags hat-trick... again – Week in the Academy 7

Another difficult and important week for Manchester City’s EDS sides was on the calendar with games against two strong opponents in Brighton and Club Brugge facing the blues. After a disappointing few weeks, the pattern continued as Barry-Murphy’s side dropped points thanks to late goals in each game.

Brighton & Hove Albion U23 1-1 Manchester City EDS


Once more, City were missing key players due to injury. Liam Delap, who has once again suffered an injury that will sideline him for some time, was replaced by U17 Nico O’Reilly. CJ Egan Riley was replaced by Shea Charles and Finley Burns was replaced by U18 Jadel Katongo at CB. Luke Mbete captained the side and Kayky made his first start since moving to Manchester. Sam Edozie was also ruled out after he revealed on his Instagram that he has suffered an injury to his left knee that will keep him out until 2022 at least.


It was through good work from Kayky that the first goal came. Oscar Bobb got to the byline and crossed to the back post for Kayky to meet with a header. His effort was saved but from the rebound, he set O’Reilly up with the chance to poke into an open goal to give the blues the lead.


Kayky then came close to scoring himself. Twisting and turning on the edge of the box he created an opening for a strike with his left foot, but the keeper got down well to stop it hitting the back of the net. Oscar Bobb also had his chance to score when James McAtee played him in on the edge of the box. McAtee received the ball with no option to pass to but expertly displayed his ‘pausa’ trait to wait and allow Bobb to get into a position to get a shot off.


O’Reilly could’ve had his second of the game if not for a miraculous block from the retreating Brighton defender. Played through one on one by Bobb, O’Reilly unleashed a strike headed for the top corner, but the defender slid in to heroically stop the shot.

City dominated the game for nearly the whole 90 minutes and had the lion’s share of chances. But it was through their errors that they blew the 3 minutes right at the death. Mikki Van Sas tried to clear the ball up the pitch with a kick from his hands but instead hooked the ball only 25 yards from his goal and gave Brighton back possession of the ball. The home side crossed the ball to the back post and Eneme-Ella was unmarked at the back post to slot in to salvage a draw.


City played well for most of the game but throwing away the victory like that will annoy them, especially after facing defeat in a few games quite recently. There are clearly some issues within the team right now, particularly in the makeup of the midfield and defence that Barry-Murphy will want to sort out to progress the development of the youngsters.


Nico O’Reilly is one player who has impressed and did so against Brighton getting on the scoresheet. He is a unique player, still only 17 years old, and already becoming a starter in the EDS team. The England U17 international can operate as an 8, a 10 or as in recent weeks, an out and out number 9. This versatility might prove useful for him if he’s looking to break into the first-team setup at City, as Cole Palmer and Phil Foden have proven.

Manchester City EDS 3-5 Club Brugge


After drawing away to Brugge in matchday 3, the Blues hosted them trying to claim top spot in the group. CJ Egan Riley and Finley Burns returned to the starting XI while Nico O’Reilly kept his place up top. Cieran Slicker was preferred in between the sticks to Mikki Van Sas after both keepers have had some shaky performances recently.


City started well and went ahead through, you guessed it, James McAtee. A perfectly weighted layoff from O’Reilly was met by ‘The Salford Silva’ who powerfully struck into the top left-hand corner of the net leaving the keeper no chance.

O’Reilly came close himself with a long-range effort that clipped the post and flashed wide. Kayky and Bobb caused problems on the wing, and it was thanks to Bobb that City doubled their lead. The Norwegian winger pressed high and forced the Brugge centre half into an error and gifted him the ball. Bobb duly slipped McAtee in to claim yet another assist and give his captain yet another opportunity to find the back of the net. The number 10 scuffed his shot which in turn wrongfooted the opposing goalkeeper and trickled over the line.

All game City’s backline were shaky on the ball, and they had a scare when goalkeeper Cieran Slicker granted Brugge possession on the edge of the area, but the shot was miraculously cleared off the line by Burns.

Brugge had threatened through set pieces from early in the game with City, and Slicker, in particular, struggling to look confident and controlled in clearing them. It was then through a long throw-in that Brugge managed to pull a goal back. The ball was flicked on and evaded everyone and fell to an unmarked Sandra in the box who fired home.


The Blues extended their lead again to go 3-1 up thanks to their standout performer on the day, James McAtee, again. This time it was an incredible solo effort to claim his hat-trick. The 19-year-old jinked past one man in his half with a Cruyff turn before driving forward 30 yards and arrowing a strike into the bottom corner of the net from around 25 yards out. A simply superb goal to cap off his hat-trick.


Sandra followed that up with a solo goal of his own, gifted the ball on the edge of the box by a poor Rico Lewis clearance, he slalomed through the City side and stroked the ball past Slicker. Brugge had been threatening goals for quite some time, and if not for the heroics of McAtee in attack, City could’ve been out of sight.


Brugge made it all square with a penalty that Micah Hamilton conceded after losing possession and trying too hard to win it back.

And the Belgian opposition completed their comeback less than 20 minutes after City went 3-1 ahead. A total capitulation from the Blues with numerous mistakes at the back resulted in Brugge piling on the pressure and taking advantage. Again, they scored through a set-piece, something that Barry-Murphy will absolutely need to work on.


Just to rub salt further into the wound, with the last kick of the game Club Brugge launched a counterattack after a poor corner from the home side and scored their 5th of the game and their 4th in half an hour.


The EDS side will have so many lessons to learn from this game. From start to finish the defence looked shaky, with experienced and quality players such as Mbete, Burns and Lavia struggling in possession and making error after error. Brugge were almost always the better side and totally deserved their win, but from 3-1 up with half an hour to, it’s quite remarkable how City threw that game.


Despite scoring a third hat-trick of the season, and continuing to make a name for himself, even James McAtee has lessons to take from that performance. The Brugge comeback began partly because of McAtee attempting a roulette near his own corner flag, losing the ball, winning it back again and then failing to get it clear resulting in Lewis conceding possession for the 2nd Brugge goal. He will know this himself, but the most important quality needed for a midfielder at this club is ball retention. Pep’s teams are built on players who don’t give the ball away in stupid areas. Kayky, Hamilton and Lavia fell victim to this as well, despite showing glimpses of their quality throughout the game.


However of course, despite the shambolic final third of the match, there were some promising aspects of the game.


With the ever-changing nature of this EDS team this season, Kayky looks to have settled in quite well. Only a couple of games in and he’s already showing some of that samba flair that excited Man City fans when he was making his way to the club. McAtee as we know scored his 16th goal of the season for the youth teams and his third hat-trick. Oscar Bobb also carried on some of his good form. But big lessons will be learnt from Wednesday’s game and hopefully, it can become a vital game in the long-term development of these stars.

Elsewhere


Liam Delap has suffered yet another injury setback which will see him on the sidelines for quite some time. It is said to be a different injury from his prior ankle injury.


Various reports have suggested that the top clubs in Europe, namely Barcelona, Ajax, Liverpool and Manchester United have been keeping a keen eye on the contract situation of James McAtee who is yet to agree a new long-term deal with the club. It is rumoured that McAtee’s camp would like a better offer while City are desperate to get the player tied down.

Photo courtesy of George Wood/Getty Images

Written by: @_TJ9320


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