Andy Jones takes a look back on a successful 2016 for the AcademyIt has been a positive year for Shrewsbury Town’s academy, with many systematic and personnel changes looking to shape the club for a positive future.
Andy Jones came in over the summer and has implemented many of the new methods being used by the club, and he has been talking to us about the steps that the academy has taken in 2016.
“It’s definitely been a transitional year for the club and the academy, I think it’s been a good year, we made progress on and off the field.
“It’s been challenging to come into the environment, but it’s something I’ve really enjoyed and something I’ll look to continue in 2017.”
Town’s U18s are into the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup, a fantastic achievement and they will look to go one further when they take on Premier League club Sunderland in the New Year.
Jones expressed his delight at the cup run, which has come at a difficult period in the season with many changes, especially from a staff perspective, with Ian Dawes and Matt Rains both leaving the club.
“It was a good draw for us, we’re going to go over the video of the Sunderland games to get the lads prepared and it’s a great occasion for them.
“It’s probably the biggest game of their careers, and to get into the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup is a great achievement.
“To get into the fifth round would be even better but we’ll take one game at a time and we’ll be confident but we appreciate how difficult it will be up at Sunderland.”
Away from the field, Jones has been overseeing a number of changes, including the introduction of the PMA system, and strength and conditioning programs for the youngsters, among others.
“We’ve made some small but significant changes, the strength and conditioning which is slowly coming into place as the season goes on.
“We’ve introduced the new online system PMA, we’ve had loads of new coaches coming in so it’s just taking a little bit of time, but the feedback we’ve been getting from it is definitely something that’s improved.”
Jones continued: “Our relationships with schools and the community is just getting us out there in a better light.
“The MJPL seems to be running really well, we’re giving opportunities to the best talent locally with the shadow squad system as well.
“It’s about making sure we get the foundations in place all the way through and making sure that the club philosophy is running through the whole set up within the club.”
The academy has been trying to build a culture and philosophy from which the club can build for many years, especially with trying to set the players up for a professional career.
“Our motto is that if you’re good enough, you’re going to play.
“So we try to play up as much as we can, we’ve had a number of our U16s squad with the U18s last weekend which is good for their development as well.
“It’s about opportunities but also just to ease the transition through the different age groups. And it’s about looking after them and making sure that they get a feel of what it’s like to be a scholar.”
To follow up the positive steps taken in 2016, Jones has also been speaking about his ambitions for the club going into the New Year.
“First and foremost to get as many of the lads professional contracts as we can.
“I feel we’re in a great position now where we can really stamp our authority on it and move it forwards.”
Jones went on: “I think we’re developing a really good reputation, we’re constantly getting a lot of category one clubs coming to our games to look at our boys, which is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time.
“But it’s a compliment to the staff that we’ve got and the way we play and it’s something I aspired to when I first started, to make sure we get the reputation of building young players.”