Comment: Man City’s youth team dominance has put Man Utd in the shade

It is less than a year on from the classically highbrow opening of Manchester City’s gleaming, new academy campus in December 2014, yet already the rhythmic effects of the tip in power from west Manchester to east is being felt.

A cursory glace at the England youth squads speaks volumes about Mancunian dominance which is now firmly settled in what was formerly the dilapidated Clayton Aniline, now the most advanced football academy on the planet.

Based on AC Milan’s Milanello complex, the City Football Academy offers nothing short of the very best in the hope that such pristine facilities will cultivate a physical superiority, a stylistic prestige: the end-game in the Abu Dhabi Group’s vision for Manchester City. And the first shoots of promise are budding.

From the Under 16s to the U20s, in the latest national squads, City have ten representatives, with seven hailing from Manchester. And in the cases of Brandon Barker and Patrick Roberts – recently involved in matchday squads against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup and Sevilla in the Champions League – such promising youngsters are far from mere trophy-statistical boasts, they are a substantial tip of the cap to the vision the club has.

Contrastingly, across the city, Manchester United’s Carrington training complex offered just two England youth internationals in Ro-Shaun Williams with the U18s and Angel Gomes with the U16s.

While United have two representatives in total, City have at least two members in each age category (apart from the U17s, in which they have one), with the Etihad club providing three members of the England U16s, one being Uwe Rösler’s son, Colin, named after the legendary Colin Bell.

From Ashley Smith-Brown and Barker in the U20s to Jadon Sancho, Rösler, and Curtis Anderson in the U16s, including the likes of Tosin Adarabioyo and Patrick Roberts in the U19s, City have cultivated a mantra of ruthless perfectionism with regards to emphatically proving that they can forge an academy worthy of continent-wide praise.

Nonetheless, the biggest leap is yet to be made. The gorge of quality between youth team football and the otherworldly universe of first-team competition at the very pinnacle of the game is one rarely cleared in a single confident leap.

But with the sheer volume of quality amassing and happily threatening to burst through onto the floodplains of the first-team with every passing year, it will not be long before more and more Mancunian representation is seen in the Manchester City side.

The process of growth at the club has been, in defiance of the archetype of the fake development engendered by financial steroid injections, wholly organic. The mulch has been set, the seeds have been planted and watered, the sprouts have begun to show themselves, and in time, the yield will be considerable.

It is the club’s hope to one day turn out a team consisting entirely of locally born and bred superstars, and while this may be a pipedream-ambition given leviathan superpowers with the status of Barcelona, Munich, and even United never had an entire first-team of wunderkind prodigies, it remains the remit.

While this remains as such, the byproducts of such lofty ambition can only prove healthy.

Full list of Manchester City representatives in England youth squads:

Ashley Smith-Brown, U20s – left-back; Brandon Barker, U20s – left-winger; Tosin Adarabioyo, U19s – centre-back; Patrick Roberts, U19s – right-winger; Marcus Wood, U18s – midfielder; Will Patching, U18s – midfielder; Edward Francis, U17s – centre-back; Curtis Anderson, U16s – goalkeeper; Colin Rösler, U16s – midfielder; Jadon Sancho, U16s – attacking midfielder.

List of recently selected City representatives in England youth squads:

Angus Gunn, U21s – goalkeeper; Kean Bryan, U20s – defensive midfielder; Diego Lattie, U17s – centre-back; Sadou Diallo, U17s – midfielder; Tyrese Campbell, U17s – striker; Adao Manuel – centre-back; Lukas Nmetcha, U16s – striker; Phil Foden, U16s – midfielder. 

Image courtesy of MCFC via YouTube, with thanks.

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