Derby County Under-18s manager Justin Walker has highlighted that his players must learn from their 5-1 defeat against Liverpool on Saturday afternoon.
His side were a goal up at half time but failed to maintain the intensity in the second, allowing Liverpool to come from behind to secure all three points at Moor Farm Training Centre.
The Young Rams head coach was very honest in his assessment of the match, citing a lack of game management as the main downfall.
“We deserved to take the lead at the end of a close first half and then I have no idea what happened,” he said. “We just didn’t start the second half with the expectations and standards that we’ve set and found ourselves 3-1 down within five minutes. And we didn’t manage the game well enough through that period.”
“The players drive performances and I know they’ll be hurting tonight. They need to look themselves and we’ll all review the performance on Monday but I think it’s important that they learn from the second-half performance.
“We didn’t show enough character, enough personality and didn’t have enough fight. The game is over 90 minutes and not just 45 so we need to look at that, review it and come back stronger.”
Derby were without a handful of the players that helped them win the Under-18 Premier League title last season as Louie Sibley, Archie Brown and Festy Ebosele were all selected for the Under-23s trip to Chelsea. But Walker was keen to emphasise that despite not having them at his disposal, the development of those players is his main priority.
He said: “That’s where those players deserve to be based on their performances so that’s progress and that’s what we’re here for; developing players to the next level.
“Clearly we’ve been doing that over a consistent period of time. Knighty [Jason Knight] and Morgs [Morgan Whittaker] are on the bench for the first team so there’s progress in place and what that ultimately does is provides opportunity for the players behind them.”
His side are not in action now for over a month but Walker’s routine will stay very much the same as consistency remains a key feature of his management.
“We’ll do exactly what we do when we’ve won a game,” he said. “We go through the same processes. We’ll have some honest conversations about what’s needed and what’s expected going forward and I know that if the lads are made of the right stuff that they’ll come back on Monday morning ready to work.”
Words: Ed Mackey