Huddersfield Town under-19s competed in the Champions Trophy in Germany last week and coach Mark Hudson believes the experience was “invaluable” for the Young Terriers.
The U19s finished second in Group 1, after two wins and two goalless draws, where they played against the likes of Borussia Mönchengladbach.
They then competed in a semi-final and a third play lay-off before finishing fourth at the prestigious tournament in Düsseldorf.
A “good experience” for all
The tournament took place over three days, and Hudson feels it was a good opportunity to test the Academy against some of the best sides in both Europe and the world, as he said: “It was a good experience for us all. It was hard to know what to expect but the level our players performed at wasn’t a surprise a surprise to us, without being over confident.
“You expect clubs like Salzburg or Werder Bremen to be very good, but some were unknown like the Japanese Select side,” he continued.
It was this Japan side the lifted the trophy at the end of the tournament.
The tournament presented many different challenges for the Young Terriers, as the former Huddersfield skipper explained:
“The tournament had a good mixture of ages, styles, physique. The Japanese XI were small and technical for example, and it was good to play against lots of different styles.”
He then further commented on how his side tried to approach each of the games. “What we tried to do was give the team a plan before each game but not overload them with information,” he said.
“We watched the games between ours so there was a lot going on, and it was very intense to give the players an idea of what they were likely to face.”
Level of Intensity will benefit youngsters
The U19s obviously currently compete in their own domestic league, but the competitive nature of the tournament was something very different for the side.
Hudson believe it is this intensity which will have the biggest impact on the Young Terriers, in what he defined as an “invaluable experience”.
“Unless you’re playing un a First Team environment it’s a struggle to create that level of intensity. A tournament style where you can get knocked out, creates that competitive atmosphere’ losing gives you a problem but winning gives you a buzz,” he further explained.
The players competed in two 50-minute matches per day and involved themselves in everything the tournament had to offer.
“Because there was such a short period of time between matches, there’s highs and lows really quickly, so they had to adapt to that, absorb results and react to them quickly; its difficult to re-create that.”
Beneficial Experience as a Coach too
Town took 19 Academy Players to Germany, including trial youngster Jake Barrett who is one of two new signings this week.
Hudson believed the rotation policy he adopted throughout the tournament helped the players to develop mentally.
“We used everyone while we were out there, and I think it was important for the players not to take things personally and think it was more about them as a team and as a group,” said the 36-year-old.
“The whole set up was great to help me, as a coach, and the rest of the staff learn, but for the players it was invaluable,” explains the man who retired from football just last summer to join Huddersfield’s coaching team.
“They may not learn from it straight away but in a month’s time, when they look back at the tournament, they will know they learned a lot that weekend – which is great for their development,” he continued.
“I believe the players will have learnt miles more during that weekend than what they would’ve done in a month’s worth of football.”
Defensive Success for Edmonds- Green
Another positive from the U19 Champions Trophy was that Young Terrier’s Captain Rarmani Edmonds-Green was named as Defensive Player of the Tournament.
The young centre- back started five of Town’s six games – where they only concede four goals across these matches.
Mark Hudson hailed the youngster’s performances, whilst also prasing the team as a whole: “He was outstanding, but he wasn’t the only player; there was a lot of good performances out there and as a team they stuck together.”
“Rarmani obviously stood out and it wasn’t just us that were praising him; he was given that award by the people from the tournament. It’s testament to him; he was great I every game he played in,” Hudson praised.
The former Huddersfield skipper felt that the 19-year-old “led the team and kept everyone calm in moments when we needed it.”
“It was a good learning curve for him, which was great, and it’s put him on a high. Now we are back home, we hope he can maintain that form from now until the end of the season,” he continued.
“It’s brilliant for the club and the academy to have a stand out player in a tournament with ten good teams and it could’ve been more. We had some really good performances,” added Hudson,
Before concluding: “To see where we are amongst teams from Europe and elsewhere shows us where we are at and the quality we do have.”