Dolan talks during Academy weekWith today being the final day of #AcademyWeek, the man at the helm, Eamonn Dolan, concludes by talking in-depth about the Royals Academy and the club itself. Join in with the discussion by hashtagging #AcademyWeek and click here to read this week's dedicated content on the Royals Academy.
"Youth development is very hard to understand unless you've worked in it. The idea of football is to win the game, but we're living in a world where image is very important. Barcelona haven't just set the bar for top clubs to win, they've increased the pressure to win with style.
"We're very much under the radar here at our Academy, with no huge amount of history compared with the likes of Aston Villa and Chelsea. But especially over these last five years, we have had great history.
"We have a mission statement here and that's to produce brilliantly technical players who work tremendously hard. That's not easy - but you can argue that Gylfi Sigurdsson is exactly that, and that's only because he works incredibly hard. The likes of Jem Karacan, Alex Pearce, Hal Robson-Kanu, Simon Church, Alex McCarthy have all done fantastically and have done us proud.
"When I came here, some people said Steve Coppell might not give our young players much of a chance - but that was absolutely wrong. In his final game, a huge play-off semi-final against Burnley, he played Alex Pearce and gave Simon Church his debut, both just 20 years of age. Jem Karacan, Gylfi Sigurdsson, James Henry, Julian Kelly were also given a first team opportunity that season. Brendan Rodgers and Brian McDermott carried that philosophy on, and Nigel Adkins is certainly very passionate about our young players.
"And it's all about the individual. We have three buzz words. One is control; we teach the boys how to control their minds, be independent, and be good decision makers on and off the pitch. Another is reaction. When you lose, the crest of your wave comes crashing down - and that happened when we lost in the final against Fulham. But it's always about how you react, and react positively. The third is organisation - organising your life as an individual but also on the pitch, pressurising the ball and knowing where to show your opponent.
"I'm jealous of our young players, because it's a great time to be a Academy player at Reading. I remember seeing Craig Tanner and Jack Stacey (under-18s) playing in the under-9s and under-10s. That's what's exciting.
"It's terrific that we've had such fantastic support for the Academy. We've got a passionate owner in Anton, Sir John Madejski has always been positive, Nick Hammond, Nigel Howe...the list goes on. And it's great that we now have Nigel Adkins. He's obviously a top manager and having got to know him over the last couple of months, I know he's a great person - as is Andy Crosby. The two of them couldn't be more encouraging about the Academy.
"We have huge challenges, but because of what we're competing against - but we have some outstanding people at this football club and, because of that, the future is looking very good."
We'll have more from Eamonn in the coming weeks here onreadingfc.co.uk