New Sunderland Under-21 boss Andy Welsh is ready for the challenge of developing the club’s hopefuls.
Former Manchester City academy manager Welsh was appointed as Sunderland’s U21 coach last week after predecessor Robbie Stockdale was promoted to first-team coach in Sam Allardyce’s backroom team.
Welsh began his reign with a 1-0 defeat against Manchester United last night, but knows his primary objective is to help Sunderland’s academy products breach the significant gap to the first-team.
“I came in at the end of last season to help Robbie and the lads have performed fantastically well since then, so I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Welsh.
“There’s some really good players in there and my experiences in the past of working both at Manchester United and Manchester City will help me develop these boys as much as we possibly can.
“It’s a challenge throughout the Premier League to bridge the gap between U21 and first-team football, which is a big gulf.
It’s a challenge throughout the Premier League to bridge the gap between U21 and first-team football, which is a big gulf.Sunderland U21 boss Andy Welsh
“All you can do is hope you develop them in the right way and they get the opportunities they deserve, whether it’s here or on loan.”
Sunderland – who included first-teamers Vito Mannone, Adam Matthews and Duncan Watmore – were undone by United substitute Tyler Reid in the second half at Eppleton CW to suffer only their second defeat of the campaign.
The Black Cats paid the price for failing to make the most of a series of first-half chances which came the way of Mikael Mandron, Liam Agnew and Charis Mavrias.
Watmore and Mavrias then went desperately close to levelling after Reid had put United ahead when he latched onto a long ball and dinked it beyond Mannone.
“It was a game of missed chances from our point of view,” said Welsh.
“The first half-hour, we had three or four excellent chances where we didn’t test the goalkeeper enough.
“United only really fashioned one chance in the second half, and the disappointing thing about that was that we’d spoken at half-time about how they were going direct quite early.
“It was just a flick-on that we didn’t get round quick enough to defend, which is really a basic move.”
Sunderland U21s: Mannone, Matthews, Brady, Ledger, T Robson, Agnew, Smith (Greenwood 74), Mavrias, Gooch, Watmore, Mandron. Subs not used: J Robson, Stryjek, E Robson, Blinco. Booked: T Robson (90)
Manchester United U21s: Johnstone, Varela, Tuanzebe, Borthwick-Jackson, Riley, Mensah, El-Fitouri, Redmond, Fletcher, Willock (Reid 66), Weir.. Booked: Tuanzebe (35)