2018 was the first year at the helm of the Junior team for Gary McAlister and we asked his reflections on the tournament following the last game.
“It was great to sign off with a win – that’ll be the last memory the lads have of the tournament. It was great to come away with a comfortable 3-0 win. If I’m honest, and I told the lads after the last game – we really had ups and downs this week, and that’s what the SuperCup is about. We’ve been in there testing ourselves against top teams and some days you’re going to be at 100%, other days the boys will be tired and things aren’t going to go your way.
“But it you look at things all together; we’ve kept two clean sheets, only conceded four goals while scoring seven – all from different scorers. The team have played with a lot of confidence and I’m really proud of them. I’ll always remember this group as the first team I’ve managed at the SuperCup.
“It’s always going to be difficult at this tournament. We played three games against opposition that you don’t really know much about and all you can manage is your own team. We went out on the Monday and were absolutely outstanding. Tuesday had us trying and trying to break down a really stubborn team and on Wednesday tiredness had set in and got the better of us.
“But by the semi-final against Chivas the boys had lifted it again and it was heart-breaking to lose the way we did, but I couldn’t have asked for a drop more effort than we got. In our last game, the boys went out and showed what they could do again. By Friday both teams were tired but we showed that we had the quality to go and finish the game off and get a comfortable win.”
Thoughts on the team he assembled:
“I was delighted to see our senior team make the final. I spent three years with that side and enjoyed it but managing this junior team is still where I would want to be. I’ve been able to watch these lads come in and enjoy themselves this week, generate interest from scouts and built rapport with each other. Some of these boys wouldn’t have played at this level before. We rolled the dice with some of the players we picked, but they’ve all done us proud and it’s been a really great week for us all. I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Highlight of the week:
“The highlight for me came on Monday when we beat Charlton. To go up against a pro team and see the lads execute everything we asked them to was outstanding. To start the week like that was fantastic. For a group of players that we only have for eight weeks and we’re trying to teach them a style that we want to play and to see them get it and execute it – as a coach and a manager, I can’t ask for any more than that.”
Nobody does it alone:
“The team behind me have been outstanding. I’ve not had to worry about the kit and equipment because Sean has been everywhere, two hours early usually. Nigel our physio has worked back and forth across both teams, making sure the boys are in the best shape they could be in.
“The coaches, Lewis and Michael, and John on the side-lines with me giving a different viewpoint, have been invaluable. They’ve all been great and they’ve all helped keep me sane! A manager needs people like that around him and these guys have been the perfect team.”