Micciche believes in Lions

Head coach Dan Micciche is encouraged by the development of his youngsters during the Nordic Tournament – and believes that the philosophy The FA is instilling in them will reap rewards for England in the future.

The Young Lions have finished second in their group out in Denmark after suffering a cruel 3-0 defeat against Sweden on Thursday, but the signs are there that a bright future is not too far away.

The Swedes raced into an early two-goal lead, courtesy of an unfortunate bounce over the head of Reece Oxford from a goal-kick for the first goal and a freak second direct from a corner inside the opening 13 minutes.

England 0-3 Sweden

Nordic U17 Tournament
Thursday 31 July 2014
Mosevej Stadium, Kolding, Denmark

But England stuck to their beliefs, and controlled the game from then on, producing some fine creative possession play and attacking football that left the man in charge proud.

“I’ve said it all week, I’m just really proud once again of the players and how they are taking the playing philosophy on board,” Micciche told TheFA.com. “We totally dominated possession again against Sweden, around the 70 per cent mark.

“We created a lot of openings, but it is the final ball or the goalkeeper producing some great saves that has denied us – but that can happen. We conceded two ‘freak’ goals that the players may probably never concede again in their lives.

“Other than at the beginning of the match, we limited them to very few opportunities and we had the more creative players on the pitch. We played with a lot of imagination, through the thirds, and with some excellent movement at times.

“We just need to keep believing in what we are doing and we’ll be fine.”

The former MK Dons head of academy has been working a lot with the players on the training pitch, trying to implement an expressive and fluid playing style that they can carry forward through the age groups of the national side.

‘The kids want to play this way, and they just need the licence to do it’

Dan Micciche

Setbacks are always likely to happen along the way according to Micciche, but he is prepared to stick to his beliefs and continue to provide English youngsters with a licence to play.

He explained: “We did a video session before the game to look at game management from the World Cup and how to cope against teams that are more physical and how not to turn it into a physical encounter.

“We did a lot of work on that against Sweden – emphasising to the players to keep believing in what they are doing and keeping the ball on the floor and keep the opposition running, which we did.

“The kids want to play this way, and they just need the licence to do it and it will not go right straight away and all the time. The key is sticking to your guns, and backing them because we have some really talented players throughout this group – including the one’s who we left back home for various reasons.

“We have to be careful that we don’t let two freak goals change our philosophy. We have to stick with it, develop it and believe in it. And if we can do that for the next 10 years then that will stand us in fantastic stead for the future.”