Ferguson Encouraged By Under-18s
Academy coach reflects on the recent Gothia Cup win in Sweden.
Everton’s Gothia Cup triumph has left Duncan Ferguson feeling enthusiastic about what the Club’s Under-18s team can achieve this forthcoming season.
The scholars’ preparations for the new campaign started in the best possible fashion last weekend when they lifted silverware in the prestigious international youth tournament, held in Sweden.
The young Blues battled through six games in as many days to emerge victors – a clear indication that the squad are ready to build on last season’s progress.
Under the guidance of coach Kevin Sheedy and his assistant Ferguson, Everton reached the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup in 2012/13, brushing aside Southampton, Port Vale and Arsenal before falling to Norwich City.
Their third place league finish also resulted in qualification to the play-off stages of the competition where they were eliminated in the semi-finals by Reading.
From what Ferguson has seen so far this pre-season, the Scot is confident that another promising year lies ahead.
“We are delighted and the boys did fantastic. It [Gothia Cup] was a good tournament to be involved in and good for their development,” Ferguson told evertontv. “You enter tournament football to win. It’s good for their development because there is a bit of pressure on them.
“The boys are picking it up; we are in the fourth week of pre-season. We played six games in six days – it was only 30 minutes each way but it was a heavy schedule getting to the final.
“It was warm as well, so they are increasing the tempo as the weeks go on. There are still a number of weeks away from the start of the season but they are picking it up.
“The kids have come back in good shape. They got a [summer] programme from the physios and they all came back in good nick.
“They are very professional and knew how hard it was going to be when they got back, so the lads have been different class.”
Ferguson, 41, is about to start his third season with the Everton academy after re-joining the Club in a coaching capacity in the autumn of 2011.
In that time he has been working in tandem with former Republic of Ireland international Sheedy – someone he is soaking up as much knowledge from as possible.
Ferguson added: “I’m enjoying pre-season. I loved it last year – me and Sheeds [Kevin Sheedy] are working great together.
“Going back to last year, it was very close to a fantastic season. We got to the quarter-final [of the FA Youth Cup] and semi-final [of the league season], and now we have won this.
“The team has got to gel and the staff have got to gel as well. I get on well with Sheeds. He’s an experienced man and I’ve been learning a lot from him.”