Swans Under-18s: Season review
It might have been a difficult season for Swansea City at Premier League level, but when it comes to the next generation of Swans players, the future is looking bright.
Nine wins helped Swansea City’s under-18s secure a top-half finish in Premier League South for the first time since the club achieved category one status three years ago.
The academy Swans sealed victories over Reading, West Ham and Norwich for the first time in the league.
An under-19 side also retained the FAW Youth Cup for a record ninth successive year thanks to a penalty shootout win over Cardiff City at the Liberty Stadium earlier this month.
“Overall it has been a positive campaign and we have made a lot of progress this season,” said under-18s coach Jon Grey.
“Performances in our games have been very good and that has shown with some fantastic results both at home and away.
“Anthony (Wright) and I were delighted to see the lads defend the FAW Youth Cup.
“The character they showed in extra time and during the penalty shootout was excellent.
“It is testament to the work they have put in that they have finished where they have.”
The young Swans have struggled a little in the past two seasons, finishing just one place off the bottom of the Premier League South table in each campaign.
But a four-game unbeaten run at the start of this season set the tone and they eventually finished sixth, just three points off the top four.
“We set ourselves targets each season,” said coach Anthony Wright.
“We reached those targets this season but were still disappointed to finish where we did.
“That just shows our ambition. It has been fantastic this season and the players wanted to break the mould of previous campaigns and compete with top-level academies in category one football.”
On top of impressive results on the pitch, five academy players from the under-18s group, including Brandon Cooper, Ben Cabango, Joe Lewis, Kees de Boer and Matthew Blake, have all progressed to play with the under-23s this season.
Meanwhile, six under-16 players have appeared for the under-18s this season.
“Seeing the progression of players and helping that pathway is the biggest achievement for us as coaches,” Wright continued.
“We want to compete and win games but the bigger picture for us is to get our academy youngsters progressing towards the first team.
“There is more to come from the academy and this group of young players.
“We have some very good players coming through the system and they are more than capable of playing at a higher level.
“Helping five under-18s players progress into the under-23s this season is a big achievement.”
Grey and Wright are two long-serving members of the academy coaching set-up, and are already focusing on helping a fresh set of players make it to the next level while continuing to get results on the pitch.
“We are proud to be leading the team,” Grey said. “Over the past six years we have seen players progress through the system.
“It is brilliant to see players we have worked with for a number of years progress through the academy structure.
“Our aim is to get more prospects into the first team like a Ben Davies or Connor Roberts.
“A lot of work goes into developing these players at all age ranges. Numerous coaches also must take credit for what is being achieved.
“Next season the focus of developing players and giving them that pathway to go and play in the under-23s continues.
“Producing players for the first team is a long process - it does not happen overnight - but it is something we are all working towards.
“We will aim to continue to improve the results on the pitch and compete week-in, week-out for more wins.”