With the first international break of the season upon us, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the month of August. Many new signings have settled well into NR1 and have contributed some wonderful performances. Some of the new signings are included in my team of the month.
I have integrated my selections into the 4-3-1-2 system – the natural formation across the Under-18s and Under-21s.
@norwichyouth’s August Team of the Month, including new signings Ellis Craven, Guilherme Montoia, Emmanuel Adegboyega, Adian Manning & Errol Mundle-Smith.
GOALKEEPER: Ellis Craven
He has been competing with Vicente Reyes for a U21s spot, and the competition between the two is fierce due to Craven’s performances as of late.
Craven is a profile of goalkeeper that the club currently doesn’t have in that he’s left-footed, has a tendency to play the sweeper-keeper role, and sets standards from the back line. He has made some important saves in the matches he has played so far, as well as showing a huge proactiveness in possession.
Craven creates space and angles in his box for his defenders to pass back if there are no forward options on, which demonstrates his levels of concentration and intelligence.
Ellis has made no errors leading to goals and has been a reliable option at the start of this campaign. His performance against Nottingham Forest, in particular, was hugely encouraging and he’ll need to maintain those standards as the games increase across the winter months.
A magnificently talented centre-back, who has had a tremendous month in the heart of the U18s defence despite the team having a difficult month.
Across this month Ofori-Manteaw has demonstrated his intelligence in reading the game, his ability to intercept, and cover multiple forward runs. Due to him being physically light, his understanding of the game has to be sharp in order for him to win important defensive duels.
In the opening games this season, he has shown his ability to win fouls for the team, which aligns with his defensive intelligence and has also shown an eagerness to effectively progress the ball into midfield – one of the main principles in the academy.
Lloyd is an exceptionally mature defender who will only get better as he plays more matches. I believe in two years’ time, he will be thriving at U21s level.
Otherwise known as ‘Manny’, he has been absolutely incredible in the U21s back line.
The U21s have played with a back-three for the majority of the season, meaning Adegboyega has played as the central centre-back. This formation change has highlighted and accommodated Emmanuel’s ability to step up high and win the defensive duel, while also allowing him to step into midfield and create an extra man.
As well as winning his duels, he is also being aggressive in the middle third of the pitch and his recovery tackles in the first month of the season have been brilliant.
Adegboyega has also had a massive influence on his other centre-back partners, especially Waylon Renecke and Charlie Wilson who are both playing their maiden seasons at under-21 level. His communication and guidance to those two, in particular, have been outstanding, as both have made smooth transitions from U18s football.
If Emmanuel continues with this outstanding form, the first team will soon come calling. He has also scored twice this season.
With the help of Adegboyega’s support and guidance, Renecke has made a highly encouraging start to the season. The left-footed defender played every minute in PL2 during August, establishing himself in the team in the process.
He has improved in every PL2 game he has played, highlighting an increased level of confidence. Over the opening two games, Renecke was decent and held his position well but since then he’s elevated his performances to a new level. Against Chelsea, he demonstrated his exquisite passing range, as well as a determination to be aggressive, which helped him win more interceptions.
He has consistently shown his aerial presence from set pieces, persistently heading corners away, although this has not been as apparent from attacking set pieces. But I’m confident it will follow.
It’s safe to say that Renecke saved his best performance for the fans at Carrow Road against Chelsea – the first time he had played there in front of supporters.
When Guilherme arrived here I requested information on him from some Portuguese outlets and was told ‘he’s a consistent up-and-down threat who is accomplished both defensively and attacking’. From the evidence so far, they were right. hat.
He has been in my team of the week for two weeks running and has showcased his consistency since his arrival. The most pleasing element of his game is his link-up play with the midfielders and attackers on the left-hand side.
He now needs to show more composure in the final third but his attacking intent is clear for all spectators to see, and he has demonstrated his superb stamina levels at the start of this season too, completing numerous intense runs.
In summary, Montoia has settled into Norwich brilliantly and will want to take this forward momentum into September.
The new U21s captain has been utilised in two different positions so far this season and has played well in both. He also contributed two assists against Chelsea at Carrow Road and showed two key moments of composure to help City win that game.
Not only has he contributed from a technical perspective this month, but his tenacity in defence and midfield has also been remarkable. He has been excellent at collecting loose balls and overcoming midfield duels.
Despite needing to do more from a technical perspective, such as elevating his passing to a new level, he’s had a positive month.
He has simply been the best Under-18s player during August. His positional intelligence matched with his excellent tackling quality makes him one of the best defensive midfielders in the U18s league.
He has played as a central defensive midfielder as well as a box-to-box midfielder this season with the majority of his minutes in the deeper role.
An aspect of his game that has elevated this season is his passing accuracy in forward areas. Due to Norwich being forced to play on the counterattack at times, as well as playing a shape that neglects width, it places extra emphasis on players like Djedje to find the first forward pass. He has excelled at this during August and has shown more consistency with his progressive passes – a step up on last season.
It’s a massive bonus that Uriah has started the season brightly as he’s a player who could reach the first team.
He has started the season off in a positive manner with an assist to his name. Since the start of 2023, Pinyoun has been one of the most improved players across the entire academy. It was never a case of him being a bad player, but the management team just neglected his best qualities. He wasn’t given the opportunity to venture forward at the start of last season, which meant he was unable to demonstrate his best attribute – his crossing.
He has been deployed as a central midfielder as well as right back at the start of this season. At right-back, he has been steady and he’s cleared his lines well while providing an attacking threat on the right. When he has played central midfield he’s shown a tendency to drive with the ball and has attempted to be the link between defence and attack.
Adian has been a revelation in the U21s midfield, scoring twice in August, as well as winning our Player of the Month vote.
He has played as an attacking midfielder as well as a deep-lying playmaker so far this season, illustrating his versatility across the midfield.
One reason why Manning has been so successful during August is because of the quality he has showcased especially with his left foot. He scored a lovely goal with his left foot from just outside the box against Nottingham Forest, which was a statement of intent. In addition to that, he has demonstrated his effectiveness at completing long-range passes, with numerous left-footed diagonals reaching their intended targets.
Adian Manning was @norwichyouth’s August POTM
Errol is the only player who is currently on trial between the U18s and U21s squads and has made a handful of promising appearances for the U18s, scoring twice already this season.
He has been used as one of the two strikers in Gregg Crane’s system, but the formation allows the strikers to drift out wide, which Mundle-Smith appears to enjoy. He has high levels of agility, meaning he’s super effective against tired legs, a good example being against West Brom where he continually tested the opposition centre-backs, something the starting XI failed to do often enough.
He has made our team of the week selections twice and could be an exciting prospect for Norwich if they decide to sign him.
After performing to an exceptional standard last season, it was always going to be a challenge for Welch to further improve but he has made a promising start.
With Norwich looking to play through balls behind the opposition’s central defence, there has been more focus on Fin’s work off the ball as he looks to latch onto those through balls fed through by the midfield. He has been exceptional at this. Despite him not having as much of the ball as last season, his ability to win fouls in the attacking third is vital for the U21s as there are confident free-kick takers in the side.
In addition, Fin has won turnovers in advanced areas for the U21s, meaning the opposition’s defensive lines are constantly under pressure.
He is a wonderfully elegant player to watch, with his recent performances catching the eye of the first team as he was part of the EFL Cup matchday squad at Bristol City.