Cork's Brian Barry-Murphy has key role developing youngsters at Man City 

Former Cork City player has experience as a manager in the lower tiers
Cork's Brian Barry-Murphy has key role developing youngsters at Man City 

Brian Barry-Murphy at Old Trafford as Rochdale manager. Picture: PA

IT’S no secret that Manchester City want to rewrite the meaning of success in football.

In 2019 they won the first-ever domestic treble in England and this year, barring big drama yesterday, they lifted their fourth Premier League title in five seasons. Their parent company; the City Football Group, also had clubs winning leagues in Australia, India, and the United States last year.

That organisation works like a pyramid with Manchester City at the top. Pep Guardiola leads this group and under him, the Sky Blues have won 11 trophies in six years.

They also reached the final of the Champions League in 2021 and there they were surprisingly beaten by Chelsea. It’s a high-pressure group that knows the currency of success in football is silverware.

Everything is geared towards the first team at the Etihad and deep inside this organisation is Cork-man Brian Barry-Murphy. The 43-year-old is currently in charge of City’s Elite Development Squad and he is central to Guardiola’s plans.

Barry-Murphy is tasked with nurturing young talent while they get ready for life with the first team at the Etihad. Barry-Murphy recently won Premier League 2 with his squad and in the wake of their title triumph, he gave a revealing interview about life at the Etihad.

Cork City's Ollie Cahill celebrates scoring with team-mate Brian Barry Murphy against Waterford in 1998 at Turner's Cross. Picture: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE.
Cork City's Ollie Cahill celebrates scoring with team-mate Brian Barry Murphy against Waterford in 1998 at Turner's Cross. Picture: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE.

“I have always had an exceptionally strong belief that development can go hand in hand with winning and if we are developing players, people and staff then we’re winning anyway,” he told the club media team.

“To see the results of that come to fruition is very satisfying and rewarding and gives the players that extra boost.

“They know that if they’re continually focusing on improving every aspect of their game and themselves, then the results will be inevitable.

It’s given me a great lift to be involved with the whole group really.”

Every member in Barry-Murphy’s squad is looking for opportunities in Guardiola’s squad.

To help them make the breakthrough, Barry-Murphy and his team sit on the sidelines studying every move the first team makes. They watched on as their Premier League title success was tainted by a loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.

The bruising clash with Los Blancos ended a journey that saw memorable wins against Sporting Lisbon and Atlético Madrid. During the Premier League 2 season, Barry Murphy and his team used the lessons learned from the first team.

“Some of the players were referencing what it was like for the first team to go to Atletico Madrid and play that game,” Barry-Murphy said.

“All of these things that can bear some resemblance to what the first team guys do is priceless learning to our players.

“To see them come through in flying colours and perform so well in a different way and be so resilient was testament to the character they’ve shown all season.”

Brian Barry-Murphy. Picture: Alex Broadway/Getty Images
Brian Barry-Murphy. Picture: Alex Broadway/Getty Images

Watching young players develop before promoting them is a hallmark of Guardiola’s managerial career.

The former Barcelona B coach is known for promoting youth players who have excelled with development squads.

The most recent high-profile example of this is Phil Foden at City. The forward joined the club as a child and he progressed through their youth academy before joining up with senior team in 2017.

After making his debut against Celtic in the Champions League; Foden went on to win four Premier Leagues, four Carabao Cups, one FA Cup, and two Community Shields.

He also has runner-up medals for the FA Youth Cup and the Champions League.

At Barcelona, Guardiola regularly cherry-picked the best young players from the underage squads. Famous examples include Sergi Roberto, who made his Barcelona debut as a teenager against Ceuta in the Copa del Rey.

This was the start of the Catalan’s story at the Camp Nou and over the last 14 years, he has won nineteen trophies with Barcelona. 

Thiago Alcântara was another player promoted by Guardiola and he first put on the famous red and blue jersey against RCD Mallorca in 2009. He stayed with the club for four seasons and during that time he won a clean sweep of honours.

Thiago later played for Bayern Munich, where he won seven consecutive Bundesliga titles and a Champions League in 2020. The midfielder is currently with Liverpool and he will play in the Champions League final at the end of the month.

Barry-Murphy works closely with Guardiola to develop players for Man City’s first team. This year, players like Romeo Lavia, Cole Palmer, Joshua Wilson-Esbrand, Conrad Egan-Riley, and James McAtee have trained with the club’s first team while playing under Barry-Murphy.

Three of that group; Lavia, Egan-Eiley and Wilson-Esbrand, all made their first-team debuts last September in the Carabao Cup against Wycombe Wanderers.

Guardiola also filled his bench for a Champions League game in December 2021 with players from Barry Murphy’s squad.

Egan-Riley, McAtee, Lavia, and Wilson-Esbrand were all brought to Germany and they even trained with the first team before a 2-1 loss to RB Leipzig.

Barry-Murphy is well aware of the influence Guardiola has on the players in his development squad.

“Sometimes I go away from games and I’m a little bit embarrassed over how much influence I have,” he explained.

It’s easy to forget that our players are getting this unique opportunity to train with one of the best managers who has ever managed.

“The amount of access they have to him and his training sessions is beyond belief.

“We’re in a very important period of the players' development and it’s important that we don’t take that for granted.

“We want the players to appreciate what they are experiencing. There’s not many clubs that involve some many of their young players.

“It’s given me a great lift to be involved with the whole group.”

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