Academy Director Terry Westley said the outstanding performances of four young professionals in Wednesday’s 8-0 Carabao Cup third-round win over Macclesfield Town was the result of a ‘collective effort’.
Grady Diangana scored twice on his debut, with substitute Joe Powell assisting both goals, while Declan Rice and Conor Coventry both produced assured performances in the centre of midfield.
Westley thanked manager Manuel Pellegrini for giving the quartet opportunities to impress in front of a 25,000-strong crowd at London Stadium and praised the youngsters for taking their chances to shine.
The four who played really buy into that individual player ownership concept, meaning that if you take ownership and work at your game, you will get your reward
“To have four on the pitch at the same time was quite remarkable and a great achievement, not just for Academy but for the whole club,” he said. “I looked at all the Carabao Cup ties played this week and, although other clubs gave some youngsters a chance, we were the only Premier League club with four Academy products in our team at the same time.
“It’s a collective effort from everyone, not just the players themselves or the Academy coaches, as they have been here since they were schoolboys and so many people have played a part in their development.
“The four who played really buy into that individual player ownership concept, meaning that if you take ownership and work at your game, you will get your reward. It’s a holistic thing; behave the right way, show the right work ethic, listen to your coaches and you will get out what you put in. Those four really stand out in that field.”
Westley said the quartet’s performances had already caught the eye of their teammates arriving at Rush Green on Thursday morning.
“Players come in and see their friends and teammates on Sky Sports News scoring and setting goals up and all of them see that and it gives them belief that they can do the same,” he observed.
“When you think of Nathan Holland, Toni Martinez, Martin Samuelsen and Marcus Browne too, we have got some good players at the Academy.
“We are thankful to the manager for giving the four who played the opportunity and we are delighted they took that opportunity.
“Manuel said the one thing he insists upon is that the young player he selects has to have the nerve to take his chance and all four of them did that and showed everybody they are capable of playing, that they can take the ball, make passes and effect the game.”
As for Westley himself, he arrived at the training ground with a smile on his face on Thursday morning, happy in the knowledge that the Academy of Football conveyor belt is still rolling smoothly.
“You feel vindicated,” he confirmed. “When you think of all the work you and the staff are doing all week and every Saturday and Sunday and all the hours and miles you put in and the bad results you have to contend with, this is why you do it.
“Working in the development field gives you this feeling of pride, seeing the fruits of that labour with every player who makes their first-team debut.
“It was an ideal night all-round.”