Tour 2012: Bailey Blog 5 – Academy ace takes the eye
- 11 July 2012 16:00
- Posted by Chris Bailey
In one capacity or another I have now worked alongside six Manchester City managers and their coaches.
Every one of them has expressed the belief that Summer is time for what some football folk call a ‘springer’.
That is to say a young player who grows up quickly, both physically and mentally, and suddenly pushes his way into the manager’s thinking and planning.
There a host of young Blues out here in Austria this summer and one in particular has caught the eye.
Maybe it is because at 16-years-old he is the baby of the bunch, but Marcos Lopes has got players and staff nodding knowingly in each other’s direction.
Of course he is still a long way from the finished article and the power and pace and cut and thrust of the Premier League may be a step too far right now but the teenaged Portuguese midfielder has set down a marker.
So much so that coach David Platt was happy to talk to about the young man whose chance to be part of the pre-season trip only came around because Gareth Barry has had an abdominal operation from which he is now home and recovering.
"We have not brought Marcos out just to make the numbers up but because everything we have seen and be told from within the club suggested he could cope at this level," Platt told me.
"He has had a couple of days on the training pitch and he has coped well - though at 16 we would not push him along in the same way as we push the seniors along."
"Marcos is an attacking midfielder with a strong left foot. We have our eye on the ball with him and he has impressed the other players. He is comfortable on the ball he doesn’t look 16.
"The boy has taken well to the work and he wouldn't be at our club now if we didn’t think there is the opportunity for him to develop into a first team player and to do that here at City you have to be talented. But we will take it slowly with him.”
Nicknamed Ronny, Lopes was signed from Benfica in 2011, and can play left wing, central attacking midfield and second striker.
Ordinarily he would still be at the Academy where boss Mark Allen is another admirer.
"Marcos has a great opportunity now to train with some of the world’s best players," he pointed out.
"He's there for experience and the coaching staff there will ascertain what kind of role he plays but I’m positive that it will be invaluable for his development.
"Everybody realises that Marco is a talent and his progress is being monitored very closely - he’s just 16 so it’s great for him to be involved with the first team at such a young age."
That 'involvement' took on a whole new meaning today with the most intense session of the week so far.
The morning began with a ‘switch on’ stretch for the seniors whilst most of the young players worked with Brian Kidd.
There were four groups operating at any one time.
They played a two-touch game with no 'keepers before moving on to a 15-yard squad pitch that contained four tiny goals at North, South, East and West and slalom polls. Each of the two squads took it in turns at drills within the polls before some running and finally a ‘proper’ game in which tackles flew in thick and fast, Kolo hauled Kompany (no damage) to the ground and Tevez scored a spectacular goal.
Manager Mancini was moved to clap at the end of the contest and so were the villagers who had again been let in to watch the action.