But there is also something special about it, away from the pressure and expectations of thousands of screaming fans, and away from bowling green surfaces of the Premier League there exists a more basic brand of the game where hatchet men that will never make it rub their shoulders with silky footballers recovering from injury, but on the fields of reserve team football all are equal.
As some of you may know I am a Manchester City fan and season ticket holder and I have been for many years, and I now find myself watching the reserves as well (or Elite Development Squad as they are ridiculously known), I have always wanted to have a way to keep football fans aware of this less glamourous level and help inform about players that could go on to become house hold names.
The first part of this adventure saw me the other night with 501 other people watching the City reserve side take on the Bolton reserves in Hyde in the Barclays Premier Reserve League North. Rather than a report on the actual match I think it is more interesting to look at players that caught the eye and think about who could potentially make the step forward into the first team.
The game was won by Bolton 3-2, but the major talking point was 2 bad looking injuries. City goalkeeper Gunnar Nielson had to be stretchered off with his leg braced taking oxygen, and to be honest it looked pretty serious, and again in the 2nd half there was another serious looking injury to City player Tom Smith who too was stretchered off.
But what of the rest of the players, I will start with Manchester City:
Firstly I must say it was nice to see Michael Johnson get a full game under his belt, after a long time out injured getting minutes on the clock is vital in getting him back in the first team. He was very neat on the ball and played quite a deep role, he rarely gave the ball away and got round the pitch well.
Certainly the best City player and arguably the best player on the pitch was ex-Barcelona midfielder Gai Assulin. The Israeli looked a constant threat, he looked pacey, carried the ball well, was not afraid to take on his man and beat many of them with relative ease. He pulled all the strings for the side and played in a very similar fashion to David Silva in the first team. I really felt watching him that he looked capable of playing for the first team at some point, maybe not in the next few weeks but at some point.
Donal McDermott also had an interesting game, or should that be frustrating. He has great ability on the ball and is capable of some great runs that would be good enough of the first team squad, but most of the time his product was woeful, he has a definite tendancy to run the ball too far and into blind alleys when there is a simpler pass on. He created many attacks, but also ended a fair few as well.
Someone close to the first team at City already is Alex Nimely, he suffered last night through lack of service, but when he did get a chance in front of goal, he finished well. The striker looked strong and relatively quick he also worked hard and got about the pitch well. I think should the service be better there are good signs for the young striker, and appearances on the substitutes bench for the first team demonstrate the potential in him.
Honourable mentions should also go to Chris Chantler who from left back looked solid and was good coming forward, however a move into midfield hampered his play somewhat. There also should be praise for Frederic Veseli at centreback who is considerably younger than his team mates and more used to playing with the under 18s but yet had a remarkably strong game against a very physical and strong Bolton frontline.
As for the Bolton youngsters, see how it broke down on the next page:
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