Under 23s

Collins | ‘I was proud with the way the boys stuck together’

5 min read

James Collins was delighted with the performance of his Wolves players in their victory over Birmingham City at St Andrew’s on Friday evening but reiterated the importance of development over results at under-23 level.

Having seen their opposition go down to 10-men within the opening nine minutes, the young Wolves side dominated much of the match, but had to fight back after going behind to claim their first win in four, and the head coach insisted he always had the belief in his players to turn the game around.

On getting back to winning ways

“I’m really delighted for the boys. I think we’ve had quite a few games this season where we’ve played well and not got the result we deserved. We had that gut feeling tonight when we were one down that maybe it’s going to be another one of those nights.

“But they stuck at it and played really well. I thought we dominated from start to finish. I know people will look at it and say, ‘They had a man sent off’, but I thought we earnt them having a man sent off with the way we started the game.

“I thought our football was excellent and then we had most of the possession once they were down to 10-men. They got a penalty from nothing and they had something to hang onto. I thought they worked extremely hard, but I always felt we were going to do it.

“The longer it goes on, you’re not so sure, but I felt we deserved it.”

On adapting to facing 10-men

“The first thing you think is ‘do we need to change the shape’? They went 4-4-1 without the ball but went almost 4-2-3 with the ball, so we felt still having the back three defensively was the right thing to at that point, especially when there was still 80 minutes to go.

“The centre-backs can always step in and drive forward, so we felt keeping the shape the same was the right thing to do.

“But it is just that patience of switching and playing through, and if you get a goal early in those moments, you normally go on and win those games well, but if they hang for a bit and get one, it can be difficult.

“So, I was proud with the way the boys stuck together and got what they deserved.”

On a first win in five

“We needed a win. People talk about promotions and winning leagues, but that isn’t what under-23s football is about. It’s about developing players, and we should never get away from that.

“But everybody wants to win, and everybody wants to get to the play-offs at the end of the season, you want to be in those moments. But in the end, it’s about making sure the Cundle’s come through, the Richards’ come through, and all the others, so they have a career and play at the highest level they can possibly play at.

“I thought it was a really good development game for them, playing against 10-men, can they adapt to playing against 10-men?

“Like last week was a good learning experience against Crewe, so was this game, and that’s what it’s all about.”

On getting back among the goals

“We haven’t scored enough goals this year, and internally is something we talk about. But they’re the first to admit that they should score more goals.

“When you miss chances, you start to doubt yourselves and think, ‘Are you going to get one?’ But if you keep doing the right things, keep getting the ball in the box, keep playing yourself in, eventually the quality will show through and you’ll get one. And we did.

“We got a bit of a break for the penalty, and then Cundle scored a brilliant goal. I thought he was magnificent all night, showed his quality tonight and ran the game.”

On the performance of captain Cundle

“I was delighted to have him back because he’s ready for that step up. Whether that’s with our first-team or whether that’s a loan, because watching him out there, I thought he was magnificent.

“He’s got an outstanding brain and drives the game, he runs the game and dictates it which is a great skill. He’s intelligent, makes good decisions, can attack and defend and when you first see him, you wonder whether he could be a Premier League player because he’s slight and small.

“But once you’ve worked with him for a bit you can see how much of a good player he is. I’m delighted for him to get his goal because his performance deserved that. I thought everyone did well, but he was a real stand-out.”


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