BURNLEY manager Sean Dyche revealed Sir Alex Ferguson was one of the first to congratulate the Clarets on their youth team triumph over Manchester United.
Both managers watched Friday night’s FA Youth Cup third round fixture from the directors’ box at Old Trafford, where Terry Pashley’s under-18s caused a cup shock.
Having reached the semi-finals of last season’s competition, for the first time in 33 years, few gave Burnley hope of even progressing beyond the third round this year, given the draw.
But the young Clarets rocked the Premier League proteges by taking the lead through Cameron Howieson and then showing tremendous character to twice come back from behind to win it with a Jason Gilchrist hat-trick.
For Dyche, Friday was his first opportunity to see the youth team at first hand following his appointment in late October.
And he was delighted with the performance.
“It’s not an easy ask to go to Manchester United at any level, and at that level they have some very good players, but some of our boys more than matched them, and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said.
“I went into the dressing room afterwards and congratulated them. It’s not just about the first team at this club – there’s more than that going on behind the scenes, we’re putting things in place that we believe are important going forward.
“I’m delighted for Pash, his staff and his players, the parents and the fans who travelled – and Sir Alex was very gracious afterwards and commended us on our good players.”
And Dyche felt the result was even more impressive given that only three second year scholars were included in the starting line-up, while 15-year-old Bradley Jackson made the winning goal.
“If that’s not an advert for good things coming through...,” said the Burnley boss.
“One swallow doesn’t make a summer obviously, but to go to Old Trafford, deal with the occasion – Gilly (Jason Gilchrist) got a hat-trick, fantastic! He won’t forget that.
“Cammy Howieson played a captain’s role, and to respond to going behind – one of the things we’re trying to build is the ability to respond to setbacks, and we didn’t quite do that as a first team on Saturday, but we certainly did it on Friday and I can’t congratulate them enough, they were fantastic. I couldn’t take my eyes off the game.”
But while the Burnley boss champions the development of young players, having brought a number through the ranks at his former club, Watford, he will not risk the temptation to fast-track them.
“It’s important they have a pathway into the first team, they understand the culture of the first team and also the technical and tactical and the physical demands of it.
“That’s a big part of their development,” he said.
“Like anything, it’s time appropriate with young players - when do you put them in and give them a chance?
“Some of them have already trained with the first team, and I definitely believe in exposing them to the first team – it’s very important to get a feel for what it is like, tempo, the demands, the way they go about it.
“It’s part of the transition into the first team.
“There are several good signs at the club at the moment, and that’s what I’m focusing on.
“Three points on a Saturday or a Tuesday is the main thing for me as the manager, but we are focusing on putting things in place behind that to support that, and there were some great signs on Friday.”