Harris: Bar has been raised by Pompey success

Wes Thomas gave Oxford the lead after a fumble by Pompey keeper Luke McGee Picture; Joe Pepler

Oxford United 3 Pompey 0 – Neil Allen’s match report

0
Have your say

Mikey Harris believes Pompey’s promotion to League One has raised the bar for the club’s fledgling footballers.

The youth team boss has challenged his young talents to strive for success as they embark on a new season at under-18 level.

But he has once again sounded the warning that development is more important than winning at this stage.

The Academy returned to action in a 4-3 loss to Swindon Town in the Youth Alliance League south west campaign.

Pompey finished outside the top 10 last season and missed out on a place in the Merit League.

Although Harris wants to qualify this time around, he is adamant feeding players into the first team is his priority.

And he understands the pressure on the staff – as well as the players – to make that happen.

Harris said: ‘We always set them the challenge of making sure we finish in the top half so we get through to the Merit League in the second half of the season.

‘Last campaign weren’t able to do that – a first in a long time – but it’s about the lads progressing as individuals and in the team environment.

‘We are very much process orientated – making the players the best they can be.

‘While winning a league can be brilliant, it’s not the most important thing at this age group.

‘If lads are playing in the Premier League Cup and the Central League Cup, or involved with the first-team that weakens us.

‘We might lose a game but we are not so concerned because the progression is there to be seen.

‘It’s not as simple as just trying to win the league.

‘We set out to win as many games as we can and if the players didn’t they wouldn’t be here.

‘But the key is winning comes from the process of them developing.’

With Michael Eisner’s takeover and Pompey’s League Two success last season, Harris believes the challenge is great on his players. But he has backed them to rise to it.

‘When the club goes up a division the challenge is harder and the boys have got to embrace that,’ he added.

‘It could be argued it may be better for the lads in League One.

‘When we were in League Two there was pressure to get out of the division.

‘That pressure is now on the club to produce more players and that’s what we want.

‘We need to have that pressure to develop young players are get them into the first team.’