Crofts providing vital link between academy and first team

Former midfielder made step-up to first-team coach in September.

By Charlie Hanson • 04 November 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Andrew Crofts joined Roberto De Zerbi's first team coaching staff.

Andrew Crofts’s knowledge of the academy and its players is proving incredibly fruitful according to under-18s coach Arthur Brammer, with young players continuing to get their opportunity under Roberto De Zerbi.

Previous head coach Graham Potter gave 20 academy players their opportunity in the first team, and Brammer envisages the focus on youth will continue under Albion’s new head coach.

“Just having three boys from the academy on the bench against Chelsea says everything,” Brammer said. “The boys are in a really good place with Andrew Crofts involved in the first team coaching staff.

By Paul Hazlewood
Roberto De Zerbi on the training pitch with Andrew Crofts.

“Crofty knows all of the academy players by their first name, he knows who they are and is willing to put his trust in them, whether it’s for training or for the under-21s to be involved in a Premier League game. Having him there makes the link between the academy and the first team even stronger.

“He knows them inside out and that they’re good enough to be stretched and challenged in that environment and he’s willing to give them that opportunity.”

Despite this year’s crop of under-18s being relatively young, Brammer says that players have still had the opportunity to train with the first team.

“It’s a young group, there’s a lot of first years in there who have come through from the under-16s together. There are some good personalities that have gelled well together.

“It’s been really positive having a few boys going across to train with the first team and getting a real idea of what the new head coach wants.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Arthur Brammer.

The under-18s will be looking to bounce back from a 5-0 defeat to West Ham United last weekend when they take on Sheffield United this Saturday.

“There were actions that we were happy with against West Ham and we did have a lot of the ball. We want to improve in both boxes, we need to defend better individually. In the opponents’ half we were quite wasteful so er spoke to boys about patience and not forcing things.

“It’s been a week of focussing on the basics, we’ve called it a ‘socks up’ mentality where everything we’re doing has to be spot on. It’s been a really good week.”