Ireland looks ahead to Under 18s’ season-opener

AS the new season gets underway for QPR Under 18s on Saturday, Simon Ireland – the academy’s Head of Coaching and Coach Education – says the fixtures are viewed as an extension of training, such is the level of focus on player development over matchday scorelines.

Following Under 23’s boss Paul Hall’s comments this week that the ‘result isn’t in the scoreline, the result is in the performance,’ Ireland has echoed those views.

“We see the games as an extension of training,” he said. “Can they take what they have been working on into a match-scenario and reproduce it?

“We want to win, but we don’t want to win to the detriment of the development of individuals.

“We have our philosophy which we stick to, and we have seen that come to fruition with the likes of Ryan Manning, through to Ilias Chair being involved at first-team level.

“We stick to that plan. At this stage of a player’s development, we are not going to try to win at all costs. That’s not what we are about.

“It’s very-much a technical-based programme we have in place, and that gives the players the attributes they need to be adaptable to any formation or system they may find themselves in.”

The Under 18s begin their Professional Development League Two South campaign against Sheffield Wednesday at Harlington on Saturday (kick off 10.30am), following a hard but rewarding pre-season.

“It has been good,” Ireland added. “We had an educational trip to Madrid, which was really useful for all the players, experiencing the Spanish equivalent of St George’s Park, staying at their facilities and playing against teams like Real Madrid and Real Vallecano.

The young R’s lost 2-0 to Real Vallecano before drawing 2-2 with Real Madrid.

“We said to the boys beforehand, whatever level you are at, to play against Real Madrid is a fantastic opportunity,” Ireland said.

“We started the game well, Mickel Platt put us 1-0 up and then we conceded what we consider two disappointing goals where they didn’t really have to work too hard to score them.

“But what the lads showed was great determination and durability to come back and equalise in the last minute with a fantastic finish from Jardel Francis-Adeyinka.”

Now the young R’s are getting ready for their first game of the campaign, and Ireland added: “I have been saying to the players that they’ll be coming up against Yorkshiremen like me, who will roll up their sleeves and maybe kick them a little bit! But on a serious note, the lads are really looking forward to the season starting.

“They have shown a great work-ethic throughout pre-season and they’re all trying to take on board what we are introducing to their individual programmes.”

We want to win, but we don’t want to win to the detriment of the development of individuals.

Simon Ireland
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