Guardiola on Gladstone Road? Not quite - but Man City visit Stenny

Manchester City were in town to play the Forth Valley football academy teams at ochilview following the winter break.

Players, parents and coaches enjoyed a well-deserved four week break over the festive period. Players were encouraged to take a break from football and enjoy the time away from Stirling University with Academy staff very aware of the huge commitment required during the season by each and everyone involved.

Forth Valley Football Academy v Manchester City Academy at Ochilview, Stenhousemuir. Picture by Michael Gillen.

Forth Valley Football Academy v Manchester City Academy at Ochilview, Stenhousemuir. Picture by Michael Gillen.

The first games of the re-start pitted the Academy Under 10s, Under 11s and Under 12s into matches with the Academy sides of English Premiership giants Manchester City.

The Manchester City Academy is a level 1 Academy within the FA’s Elite Player Performance Plan introduced in 2012 and is regarded as one of the very best in England. The games offered the Children’s Academy players an opportunity to play against one of the strongest Academies in Europe before re-starting the Club Academy Scotland fixtures.

The games took place over two weekends with the first set of fixtures taking place at the Falkirk Stadium, all U10 and U11 matches were the seven-a-side format that both associations play. The games were competitive with a high degree of technical quality and game intelligence on show.

The Man City squads included Darren Fletcher’s twin boys and Sergio Aguero’s son with a healthy crowd in the main stand. The second set of fixtures involved the Under 12 squad playing 9 a-side matches at Ochilview Park, Stenhousemuir FC. The games were once again closely competitive and exciting with Forth Valley providing the young City players with a tough test.

Manchester City were looked after by the Academy partners the Macdonald Inchyra Hotel during their stay and also travelled to play Celtic during their visit.

Feedback from the Manchester City staff, players and parents was overwhelmingly positive with the likelihood of future games taking place.

Manchester City were the third English Premiership Academy side Forth Valley have faced within the last nine months following on from successful visits and games vs Swansea City and Burnley FC, both sides are due to travel with a few age groups to Scotland for games in 2017.

Games such as the ones against Manchester City are important so the players are exposed to different levels and styles of opposition to aid their overall education and development within the game. Games against sides outwith Scotland are now an integral part of the Academy calendar. The Under 13 and Under 15 squads will also be travelling to France during the Easter holidays to participate in invitational tournaments providing the players with further new experiences.

FVFA would like to thank its partners Macdonald Inchyra Hotel and Spa for providing outstanding accommodation, food and service to the Manchester City party throughout their trip