David Unsworth has challenged his Under-21s side to develop a habit of winning silverware after watching them lift the SuperCupNI.
The young Blues stepped up their pre-season preparations by taking part in the four-team tournament in Northern Ireland this week.
Thursday’s 1-0 win over Spanish outfit RCD Espanyol in Coleraine was followed up with a victory by the same scoreline against Celtic in Ballymena on Saturday, resulting in the trophy heading over the Irish Sea to be added to the Academy’s growing collection.
And, with the Under-21s in the latter stages of two regional competitions before the new season even starts, Unsworth says adding more titles can only strengthen the mentality of his troops.
“It’s a lovely habit to get into, winning trophies,” he told evertontv immediately after the presentation at Ballymena Showgrounds. “These guys deserve it because they’re the ones putting in the work, crossing the white line and putting in the performances.
“We said to the players before that if we were getting to a final, then we were winning it - otherwise there’s no point coming here.
“We’ve now got the semi-final of the Liverpool Senior Cup [at Skelmersdale United on Thursday] and the final of the Lancashire Senior Cup [date TBC]. Winning trophies like that can be a great habit for these lads to get involved in.”
As a former defender, Unsworth was naturally as pleased to keep a third clean sheet from as many pre-season games as he was with the victory itself.
The win was no less than the Toffees deserved, too, with Mateusz Hewelt untroubled between the sticks while his teammates tried to add to Harry Charsley’s stunning first-half strike.
It was the midfielder’s second goal of the week, having also netted Thursday’s winner.
“Harry has been doing that for years,” Unsworth added. “He scores goals whether you play him at right-back, midfield or centre-forward. He’s got an eye for goal, great timing for runs and he’s clinical in the box. It was a great finish and well deserved. I thought he played very well.
“We were great again to be honest - I thought we were the better team. We created some good chances and limited a decent Celtic team to one chance that they should have scored from.
"The players’ fitness levels are ridiculous. They really are putting in a great effort, for themselves, the team and the Club. As a coach that pleases me no end.
“I wondered if [this tournament] would be too much too soon for the young players, but it’s been perfect. It’s been a great test - especially with us going down to 10 men on Thursday and having to recover so quicky to go again in a final where there was something on the game.
“I was very proud of them, as always. This new group continues to set the bar.”