Development team manager, Richard Shaw, saw his side get off to a winning start at Beckenham Training Ground as a 2-0 victory was recorded in the under 23’s opening game of the season against Burnley.
“I am delighted to win the first game of the season, last year we did the same thing when we beat Nottingham Forest 1-0, it's always good to start the season with a victory and even better when you get a clean sheet.
“The boys did terrifically well; it was a game that we got more into as it went on. The first ten minutes Burnley were started very well, they were really energetic and pressed us well and struggled to get into the game. We didn’t panic though and got ourselves into the game and after a chat with lads at half time we can be really pleased with our second half performance.”
Eighteen year-old Sam Woods signed a new contract in the summer and celebrated extending his career with the Eagles by giving the side an advantage in the match just past the hour mark. Shaw was pleased to see the youngster convert the chance and is one of his squad that he believes has more to offer as time goes on.
“I am really pleased with his development and I believe there is a lot more to come from him. He’s a lad who we are working with and I'm sure he will continue to progress, he has some physical work to do but can pass the ball well and is going to be a good player.He is always working on his game and shows a good attitude and as a coach if one of your group has those qualities then you will always be prepared to help them.”
The new system of play that Frank de Boer has introduced into the club’s first team squad is also one that Shaw and his coaches at development level are integrating into their youngsters as the whole group learn together.
“We have worked hard during pre-season on the formation and each session we will touch on how we want to play using the system. We have watched some presentations with the first team management on how they want the teams playing here and we have also looked at DVDs of other teams playing the system to see how it is operated and it’s been an education for the coaches and the lads.
“I have enjoyed working on it and as coaches both myself and Dave Reddington spend a lot of time discussing the 3-4-3 formation. We want to learn it and make sure the lads play it in the right way because ultimately our job is to get boys into the first team environment so if they know the system they will have an awareness of what is required of them.”
Having been at the club’s academy since eleven years of age Aaron Wan-Bissaka has continued his progression during pre-season with a chance to catch the eye of the first team manager after being part of the squad that took part in the Asia Trophy.
His defensive duties which he took on at the end of last season have now seen him move within the new system to right wing back, a position that the now 19 year old should feel at home in according to the former Eagles defender.
“The role is made for him really and we are working on him getting the defensive side of his game right which he is learning about as he only started playing at right back towards the end of last season. The right wing back position though also gives him the licence to get forward and with things still to learn he can look back on his pre-season as a terrific one and he is another who will just be willing to keep learning with a great work ethic and long may that continue.”
Returning from injury midfielder James McArthur extended the lead with an excellent individual goal and Shaw was delighted to see the midfielder round off a good few days spent with the development squad.
“I cannot speak highly enough of James, along with the other first team squad members involved in this game, they have all had a great attitude training with us in the build up to the game. James sat on the bench in the first half, I think seeing how frustrated we all get has probably put him off being a coach and then when he came on he did ever so well, he played his part out there, being vocal with the others to say what was needed and I was delighted with his presence during the second half.
“When first team players are involved in these games they need to lead by example and the guys that took part in this win certainly did that.”