Darren Way

Way's Mid Season Report

First-team success at Home Park is being mirrored by tremendous results and performances throughout the age groups of the Argyle Academy. 

Under the guidance of Darren Way, the Greens' under-18s enjoyed a fine run in the FA Youth Cup and have produced some superb results in the EFL Youth Alliance. 

It all stems from a coherent football philosophy for the Greens and the winning culture every successful club needs. 

“I’ve now been at the club for two years and I think, every year, there has been a gradual improvement in terms of the objective, the goals and the environment we’ve created,” said Darren. 

“It’s not just me, there is a knock-on impact from the 16s and age groups below that with the type of player we are inheriting in the under-18s. I’m getting players that understand the philosophy of the club. 

“It’s up to as a group, the staff and the players, to create the right environment. There is a winning culture at the club, we train like we play, and that has been reflected in our performances.” 

The structure at Home Park is built to give young players an opportunity and we have seen an amazing conveyor belt of talent producing on the pitch at first-team level. 

EFL Trophy games against the likes of Arsenal, Swindon Town and Newport County saw the team packed with Academy players, while the under-18s demonstrated their progress with an outstanding display against Premier League Brighton in the FA Youth Cup. 

“Through the course of a very hard season, we all want to see our young players get a chance if they’re good enough,” said Darren. “The recent Arsenal game at Home Park showed that some of those players coming in to support the first-team are a bit more robust. 

“We have players with a bit more resilience and it’s up to them to take the opportunity. I don’t think any of the young players have let the first-team down when called upon, and that gives the first-team staff the confidence to play them. 

“They’ve witnessed the games with MK Dons and Brighton in the FA Youth Cup, a good environment for the first-team to judge the under-18s, which is very difficult during the course of the season because fixtures often clash. 

“There wasn’t much between us and Brighton on the day, and we feel we are moving in the right direction. There is a good feeling and buzz around the place. Parents and players all want to be part of something exciting. 

“The way we played against Brighton was very rewarding, to see our team reflect our club philosophy. Brighton is a team training with Premier League players every week and we performed very well. 

“Being an under-18s coach is a complicated job because you have to look at the four key factors of tactical, technical, physical and psychological, and every player is at a different stage in that development. 

“It can be hard work but to see the team looking as strong as a Premier League Category One team shows that we are doing something right.” 

The development of young players at Home Park comes from a consistent message; a style and philosophy that everybody understands and appreciates. 

“There is a style of football at the club and we are all joined up,” said Darren. “Our Director of Football, Neil Dewsnip, has played a huge role in terms of all the coaches driving that philosophy. 

“We’re all using the same language, so when that transition comes from 14s to 15s to 16s and 18s, the players understand what is expected. When you’ve got that togetherness as coaches at a football club, the players see that. 

“It is the consistency of messaging and the players are well drilled. I know our pressing strategy will be the same for the 16s as it is for the 18s, which allows us to focus on specifics with a player. 

“How many times do you see a football club, when they change the manager, the style of football also changes. Consistent messages over a regular period of time brings better performances throughout the Academy. 

“The first objective for an Academy is to create players who can make that breakthrough into the first-team and can stay there. 

“They have to stay in there consistently. I don’t think you’re a proper Football League player until you’ve reached 100 games and we have to continue that conveyor belt of talented footballers going into the first-team.” 

You can make a massive difference to the Argyle Academy by joining the Big Green Lottery, with your membership helping to raise funds in support of our next generation of Pilgrim talent.  

Membership is just £2.25 per week, and BGL members also benefit from weekly cash prizes, a grand annual prize of £10,000, big match ticket priority and discounts in the Home Park Superstore.               

Click here to join today