U21s boss reviews Royals' season...Royals Under-21s coach, Martin Kuhl, spoke about Reading’s season following the youngsters’ final game of the season with Manchester City.
The Royals have consolidated their position in the Barclays U21 Premier League this season competing against England’s finest clubs in youth football’s top tier.
“Over the season we’ve performed pretty well,” reflected Kuhl.
“We’ve stood our ground in a league full of top clubs. We have lost the odd game by a mistake, but those are a learning curve for the lads. The resources that we’ve got are not the same as some of the teams in the division, but we’ve given every team a good game and picked up some great results.”
Some of the standout results for the Royals this season have included wins over Liverpool and Tottenham, as well as an exciting 3-3 draw Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
It has not all been about results for Kuhl however, with the U21s’ boss believing some of the best experiences have come in defeats against high-calibre opposition.
“Playing against the big clubs like the Manchester United and Manchester City has been a great experience for the boys this year,” said Kuhl.
“If you look at the team that United had out against us, five or six of them have made it into the first team, maybe more than that now. At times even a few first-teamers have played against us which is great for our lads.”
The Royals got off to a flying start to their campaign, finding themselves top of the table in the early stages of the season. With several members of the squad heading out on loan and some youngsters coming through from Under-18 and even Under-16 level, Reading slipped down the table as the season progressed and currently sit in sixth position, with other teams around them still with games in hand.
“We’ve not got any fear in the group and started the season really strongly, getting to the top of the league in the early stages," Kuhl continued.
“We had a few go out on loan so we’ve also brought through some younger players, to put them in the next step in the ladder towards the first team so it’s been a good development throughout the season. Despite players going out on loan, we try to build a team based on the philosophy of the football club.
“It was great to have a few of the Under-18s in the squad for the game against Manchester City which gave them a real experience.
Kuhl’s biggest target for the season was to help supply his team with the tools they need to go on and play for the Royals. The coach also underlined the importance with which the Reading youth set-up focus on producing rounded players, not just on the pitch, but as people too.
“In the Under-21s we try and teach them everything from tiki-taka, passing and movement, to long ball so it’s a real learning process to allow them to go on and be able to play any type of football under any manager," said the U21s coach.
“We want to give them the tools to technically, tactically and physically come in and be involved in the first team.
“That’s why loans can also be important,” Kuhl continued. “It gives them a chance to move away from home and try and survive standing on their own two feet away from their families, as well as giving them playing experience.
“It helps round them as individuals, which is something we try to do in the Academy at Reading.”