Gary Brazil says there is a feeling of ‘real momentum’ behind the Nottingham Forest academy as they head into the new season.
Following a successful 2014-15 campaign which saw the Under 21s and Under 18s both reach the play-offs in their respective divisions, actions have been taken this summer to further strengthen the academy’s foundations.
The club have recently made a number of appointments to the academy staff including the arrival of Jamie Fullarton as Under 21s’ manager, Gareth Holmes as Under 18s’ assistant manager and Ian Bennett as academy goalkeeping coach.
And speaking on the academy’s pre-season tour of Portugal, the Forest academy manager believes much progress has been made across all departments over the last year.
Brazil said: “We’re in a lot stronger position than 12 months ago and I think we have real momentum. We are confident that these appointments will enable us to move forward because the guys all set very high standards.
“We had a productive season last time around and we were pleased with the performances of both the Under 18s and the Under 21s. To reach the play-offs in both age groups and have a strong display in the FA Youth Cup was great for us.”
Despite last season’s success, Brazil maintains that there will be no complacency within the academy and that the new campaign will be even more vital than the last.
He said: “Make no mistake, we are not resting on our laurels and patting each other on the back. Now is the time for us to push on and make sure that we continue to improve on what we’ve already built.
“Identifying and recruiting the correct type of player and ensuring we provide them with a programme that will develop them technically, tactically and physically to be able to impact on the first-team squad is vital. I believe we have the right staff and programme in place to provide exactly that.
“The new coaching appointments with the older age groups will have a big impact on this and we’ve also had a major overhaul of staff in all other departments. In the last 12 months we have made substantial gains in both the Sports Science and Medicine and Recruitment departments. The new staff have settled in very well with a great work ethic.”
The recent trip to Portugal has seen the academy’s senior teams travel on a pre-season tour together for the first time with the Under 18s winning both of their matches and the Under 21s victorious in their most recent game before heading back to the UK.
Both sets of coaching staff were delighted by the performances of their players and Brazil says the club’s backing was fundamental in allowing the trip to take place.
He said: “Being able to bring the 21s and 18s away together has been good, it’s not been done before. I’m pleased that the chairman and the people he employs to run the club have backed our decision to do that.
“It is a great way to start the new season because a 24/7 training camp allows the staff to spend time together and gets the players to bond as well.
“We’ve brought in a number of new first-year scholars to the club and this trip lets us concentrate on building fitness ahead of the new season while teaching the boys what it means to be a Nottingham Forest academy footballer.
“The backing we’ve had from the club has been excellent and our job now is to give the chairman a return on his faith by ensuring that we correctly identify, recruit and develop young players with a view to them reaching the first team in the future.”