Mehmet Ali has spoken about the beneficial learning experience the UEFA Youth League has provided, following his under-19s’ 2-1 defeat away to Sevilla on Tuesday.
Alberto Collado and Jose Antonio Lopez put the home side 2-0 up in the first half, before Charles Sagoe Jr netted a late consolation.
“You play in these tournaments and it’s an unbelievable learning for our players to experience different cultures, playing against different teams, and again I just said to the lads in there, unfortunately their style was beating our style,” Mehmet said after the game.
“When you play a team like Sevilla you can’t afford to give sloppy goals away and that’s what we did. We had loads of the ball, we were calm, we were patient at times which was good, but they know the dark arts very well, they’re desperate to win and their style beat our style, so it’s frustrating but we’ve got to dust ourselves down and play for pride next time we play them.
“We had one moment with Ayden Heaven where he probably got provoked and lost his head but he’s very young compared to some of the others, but I thought our boys’ attitude and mentality to deal with what they were playing against today, they did that very well and they did keep their composure. Unfortunately when you concede two goals against a team like this it’s always hard to get back into the game.”
Commenting on goalscorer Charles, who recently stepped up to Mikel Arteta’s first-team squad for a Carabao Cup win against Brentford, Mehmet said: “Charles is very level-headed and he’s desperate to improve and get better. He continues to work hard in training.
“Of course, playing with the first team has given him a real confidence boost, but he’s kept his head and continues to work hard and I was really pleased that he got his reward with a goal.”
We’ve now suffered defeats in the group stages to PSV Eindhoven, RC Lens and Sevilla, but Mehmet has taken plenty from the performances, despite being disappointed by the results.
“It’s been brilliant for them,” he said. “Three different games and they’re very fine margins at this level. Unfortunately we’ve been on the losing side in our three fixtures and that’s difficult to swallow. There’s loads to learn from and so many things that these boys will be picking up playing in this competition.
“We’re devastated and disappointed we’ve not done better from the scoreline perspective, but some of the performances the boys have put in have been good, but obviously not good enough and we need to look at ourselves and go again.
“Regardless of whether we’re home or away, knowing this bunch of lads, they’re desperate to do well. We’ve got some real good talent and real good individuals. There’s loads to learn and pick up from and they’re getting that exposure, so we’re looking forward to going again, looking at ourselves, seeing how we can improve and the beauty of this tournament is you get to play every team again, so we’re hoping for a better scoreline and performance.”
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