• TJ

We need to talk about Cole Palmer – Week In the Academy 5

Cole Palmer was the star of the show this week for Manchester City’s Academy with a PL2 hat-trick sandwiched in between two substitute appearances for the first team. More injuries and fitness concerns inside the academy resulted in some very youthful starting XIs for the EDS and the U18s.

Manchester City EDS 5 – 0 Leicester City U23s


It was another emphatic victory for Brian Barry-Murphy’s blues against Leicester on Saturday evening to continue their remarkable home record in the Premier League 2 of 19 unbeaten matches in succession across the last 3 seasons. Depleted by injuries to Liam Delap, Tai Sodje, Carlos Borges, Jayden Braaf and Micah Hamilton with James McAtee, Sam Edozie, Juan Larios and Kayky all deemed not yet fit to play, Dire Mebude and Luca Barrington stepped up from the Under 18s to feature. Both Cieran Slicker and Cole Palmer had earlier been on the bench for the first team, with Palmer playing the final few minutes as a substitute, and still made the journey across the bridge to join the rest of the EDS team for the evening kick-off.

City totally dominated the game early on, mirroring the first team with their control in possession and their off the ball work to prevent Leicester stringing many passes together. It took only 19 minutes for Palmer to get himself on the scoresheet after he took the ball down from Romeo Lavia’s inch-perfect outside of the boot pass and lifted it over the keeper.


The blues maintained their dominance in the half with the only real scare coming when Mikki Van Sas ventured out of his goal and seemed to forget which team he was playing for presenting the opposition forward with an open net. Thankfully the shot wasn’t accurate enough and sailed over the bar.


On the brink of halftime, City worked the ball well down the left-hand side with the impressive Oscar Bobb combining with Luca Barrington whose dangerous cross was cleared out to Palmer on the edge of the box. The attacking midfielder needed one touch to set himself before he fired the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

Very shortly after the beginning of the second half City had their third of the evening. Lavia won the ball back in midfield and laid it off to Bobb who then played a perfectly weighted pass to the impressive Barrington. The 16-year-old drove at the defence and, in quite a Leroy Sane esque way, carried out a few stepovers and body feints to shift the ball onto his left foot and drive it home.


Changes were made as Barry-Murphy became comfortable with the result, Sammy Robinson and Oscar Tarensi came on in place of Lavia and Wilson-Esbrand, but the most eye-catching substitution was the introduction of 15-year-old Joel Ndala, making his PL2 and U-23 Debut while still being an U16.


Sammy Robinson made an instant impact as a long ball in search of his run bobbled around the box and fell kindly for him to slot past the keeper.


By the 85th minute the game was done and dusted but there was one man in search of another goal. Cole Palmer. The 19-year-old deftly controlled Robinson’s pass on his back foot before swivelling around and shifting the ball onto his left foot before unleashing a rocket into the top corner from 25-yards out.


Cole Palmer once more displayed how he is beyond this level now. Playing two games in the same day for the first team and the youth team is a rarity in itself but scoring a hat-trick to go with it and taking home the match ball is possibly unheard of. This achievement obviously wasn’t enough for the Wythenshawe winger. On Tuesday evening he became the 10th youngest English goalscorer in Champions League history with a trademark finish curling in from the edge of the box. He is simply a star in the making.

Photo courtesy of Julian Finney/Getty Images

Luca Barrington, who was recently named in the Guardian’s top 20 Premier League talents, capped off a fine EDS debut with a goal and assist. He demonstrated his ability to go both ways with his two-goal contributions coming off his weaker left foot. Dire Mebude on the opposite wing also showed a glimpse of his quality. A lightning-quick winger from Scotland who was brought in from Rangers in the summer of 2020 has been starring for the U18s which resulted in this callup for the EDS. Several times he showed his agility and sharpness on the ball in one versus one situations.


Romeo Lavia was outstanding in the centre of the park constantly breaking up play and showing his great passing ability. Another stellar performance from the Belgian midfielder who, along with Liam Delap, Sam Edozie, Luke Mbete, James McAtee and Josh Wilson-Esbrand, has been namechecked by Pep Guardiola as a player who could have an important future at City.


Club Brugge U19s 1 – 1 Manchester City U19s


The return of the UEFA Youth League after the international break put the blues up against the young Belgians who had an equal record with City after also beating Leipzig and drawing with PSG. Although James McAtee and Sam Edozie returned to the side, it was still a very youthful side, hampered by the suspension of Finley Burns and Shea Charles. In the 18-man squad, there were only 8 official EDS players, with the rest of the squad made up of U18s, or even younger.


The inexperience and nerves showed in the early stages, although it wasn’t necessarily the young players' fault, you could tell that the team was slightly more uncomfortable in the circumstances. Brugge capitalised on this by creating chances as a result of errors from Lewis, Mbete and Lavia. Although, thanks to the heroics of Van Sas in between the sticks, they were unable to convert these chances into goals.

City had their moments, mainly down the left-hand side of Edozie, Wilson Esbrand and McAtee, and it was through these players they created the best chance of the half. Edozie was played in on the left-hand side and whipped in a delightful cross to the back post where Barrington was attacking but a last-ditch tackle from the Brugge defender prevented it from crossing the line.


The Belgian opposition took the lead on the stroke of halftime courtesy of an unstoppable effort from Sabbe. A cross into the area was mis-hit by Lavia and Oduroh also failed to clear it properly which meant the ball fell to Sabbe just outside the box whose effort was out of reach for Van Sas.


City grew into the game in the second half and ironed out their earlier mistakes and rustiness. Edozie came close after working a shot inside the area 20 minutes after the interval. The goal did come, and it came through a rather unlikely scorer. Josh Wilson-Esbrand popped up in attack to score a well-taken solo effort. He picked the ball up out wide and after a couple of fake shots to open up the opportunity directed his shot at goal on his right foot. Granted, it did take a deflection, but an impressive goal from the young left-back.


The game finished up and the points were shared. City will be a bit disappointed with the performance, but it was a good learning curve for plenty of the young players.


McAtee and Edozie returned after missing the Leicester game due to fitness concerns and did show their quality in glimpses but looked a little bit rusty. They were both taken off 70 minutes in to ensure they were kept fit.


Joel Ndala came on to make his UEFA Youth League debut and he is certainly a player to look out for in the coming years. 15 years old and already participating in EDS games shows how highly he is rated by the club.

Crystal Palace U18s 2 – 2 Manchester City U18s


City’s U18s also had quite a changed side due to players playing elsewhere on Saturday. Mebude, Barrington and Ndala were with the first time, while Nico O’Reilly, who was captain, Kane Taylor and Isaac Smith were all with England. 16-year-old CF Will Dickson got his first two goals of the season to grab a draw for the blues which brings them to second place in Group C of the U18 Premier League Cup, 2 points behind leaders Liverpool.

Written by: @_TJ9320


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