Dec 13

Mann: I owe it all to Gloucester’s youth set up

As Gloucester City’s Adam Mann celebrates his first year with the first team his former under 18s teammate Sam Hill has spoken to the winger about his ambitions for the future.

Adam Mann in action against Harrogate Town

Adam Mann in action against Harrogate Town

It’s been nearly a year since Adam Mann scored the volley that every Tigers fan talks about, a 35 yard screamer against AFC Telford.

Now one year into his two year contract, the 21-year-old, known to his team mates as- ‘Manny’ says-he owes it all to the youth system.

‘‘If it wasn’t for Ken Blackburn I wouldn’t be at the club today’ explained the talented youngster, ‘Ken always said to me you’re welcome here’’.

However it wasn’t always Gloucester City in the forefront of Adams mind.

‘‘I had a spell when I was at college where I wasn’t playing any other football locally and the amount of ‘sweet talking’ coaches that would come along, promising you the world and as soon as they’ve signed you up you realise it was all a lie’’

‘‘I learned the hard way when I chose Forest Green Rovers instead of City for a couple of years- when I came back Ken had every right to turn me away, but he didn’t; instead he drove to my house to get me signed on’’

Mann’s short career has stints playing at Cheltenham Town, FGR and- Hartpury College before he found his feet in Ken Blackburn’s U18 City side. With Adam at the centre of the team’s strike-force the team came second in the league and were runners up in the County Cup. Adam scored a total of 12 goals in the team’s successful season.

However manager Ken Blackburn and first team boss Dave Mehew knew Adams strongest position was on the left. He started at left-back in his first team debut against Mangotsfield United last autumn and eventually made his name as an ‘attacking wing back’ type defender after a stunning performance against Luton in the FA Trophy in his first full appearance; this season however Adam has established himself playing left midfield for the Blue Square North side.

He said-‘‘I always used to play defence when I was young, it was only when Ken needed a striker I decided to give it a go, It was a nice change to score goals because I know I’m capable of it but now I’ll play wherever the gaffer needs me’’

Long serving director of youth football at Gloucester Ken Blackburn knew Adam was destined for big things from day one, ‘‘I knew Adam had exceptional talent, that’s the reason I tried my hardest to get him to the club’’

‘‘He’s had to adapt to men’s football, but he’s done it well-the lad is always improving, with the right guidance he can achieve great things’’

Adam recently made his 50th appearance for the Tigers, scoring two goals and with many at the club under the impression he can play at a higher level he may not make 100. Mann admitted he had ambitions to play at the highest level he could.

‘‘It’s hard to pin-point where you want to go with your career because everyone wants to play the highest level possible, But I do want the opportunity to train full-time’’

‘‘I owe a lot to the older players, they’ve taught me so much, but if I have come this far on two training sessions a week, imagine where I could be with four or five’’

In terms of this season, he is the only City player to not be booked and Adam says, according to the manager it’s got nothing to do with being sensible.

‘‘If you ask the gaffer he’ll say it’s because I don’t tackle! It’s an area of my game I’m working on; he wants me to be ‘an uglier player’ to win more headers and more tackles, but I’m working on it and it will come’’

City are currently 12th in the table after 18 games and we can certainly expect to see a lot more from Mann in the remaining 23 fixtures.

Maybe he’ll score another 25 yard screamer?

Or make a tackle!

We live in hope.

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