'Season judged on whether players have improved'
Scott Parker on his first season in charge of the Under-18s
Wed 25 April 2018, 10:06|Tottenham Hotspur
Scott Parker has paid tribute to our young starlets after completing his first domestic season in charge of the Under-18s.
A popular, all-action former midfielder who gave his all for us between 2011 and 2013, Scott retired as a player last summer after four years at Fulham and swiftly made the move into coaching, taking up his new role within our Academy at Hotspur Way.
Immersing himself in the job, he presided over a 4-0 home win against Norwich City in our first Under-18 Premier League game of the season on 12 August and has since been on a rollercoaster ride with our young players as they’ve progressed with their development and done battle on a number of fronts.
“I’m really pleased with the way it’s gone,” said the 37-year-old former England international after the league season was wrapped up with a stunning 9-0 home win against a young Arsenal side on Tuesday.
“We all know what football is like – there’s always ups and downs and at times it can seem like there are more downs than ups, but I’ve enjoyed the season massively and the boys have been a credit.
“They’ve listened and taken things on, it’s been a really good group and for me, obviously with it being my first season and in terms of learning the coaching side of the game, it’s been massive.”
In November, just a week after winning 5-2 at Swansea City, the players crashed 6-0 at Arsenal, but lessons were clearly learned as they subsequently embarked on a lengthy unbeaten run in the league that lasted all the way up until a 2-0 defeat at West Ham at the end of March.
Reaching the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup, a run that included an impressive 3-0 victory at AFC Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium in January, Scott’s troops defeated Steven Gerrard’s previously-unbeaten Liverpool Under-18s 4-0 and then won 4-1 at home to Arsenal en route to reaching the inaugural Under-18 Premier League Cup Final on 18 March, where they also came up short against the Blues.
But they took revenge by inflicting Chelsea’s first home defeat in three years in the penultimate game of the league season last week, winning 3-0 at Cobham after a great team performance, and then rounding things off with that high-scoring triumph against the Gunners.
“We were a little bit up and down leading up to Arsenal in November,” reflected Scott. “We got comfortably beaten there but after that, we went 12 unbeaten and really pushed on. We had a couple of sticky patches along the way but, in saying that, we got to the final of the League Cup and also had a run in the FA Youth Cup, so I think overall we can look back and say it’s been a successful season.”
Scott also took charge of our Under-19s during an excellent UEFA Youth League campaign, where the fixtures mirrored those of the first team in the UEFA Champions League during the group stage.
A 4-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund and 3-2 win over Real Madrid, both at home, during the first few months of the season were particular highlights, while we also saw off AS Monaco on penalties in the round of 16 before slipping out of the competition in disappointing fashion with a 2-0 loss to FC Porto in March’s quarter-finals.
“The UEFA Youth League games were very good,” said Scott. “It was a really useful tournament, it was just a shame that we fell at the quarter-final hurdle. They were massive tests against European styles, a good experience for the boys and a good experience for me too because obviously I’m new to this at times as well. We went through it and learned all together.
“Ultimately now we’ll be judged on whether the boys have improved, so in the next few weeks we’ll all sit down and work out where we need to go for next year.”
While the Under-18 Premier League programme has now concluded for 2017-18, the competitive season isn’t over yet. Combining our Under-23 and Under-18 squads, the Academy returns to Stemwede, Germany, between 9 and 13 May before again heading to Terborg in the Netherlands between 24 and 27 May for two challenging overseas tournaments.
“Obviously we’ve got two competitions now in May and we’re looking forward to them,” added Scott. “It’s been a long season for the boys but we’ve tried to manage them with injury, overloads and things like that.
“That’s going to be crucial in the coming weeks because we’ve got two big tournaments coming up, but coming off the back of the last month or so with the Under-23s as well, hopefully we go there with confidence and we can do well.”