PAUL FAIRCLOUGH knew his Bermuda Babes had potential – but even he didn’t realise they would be this good.
Fairclough’s 16-man squad was made up of 13 new faces with just goalkeeper Preston Edwards, Luton striker Andre Gray and full-back Ryan Jackson previously capped.
The International Challenge Trophy kicks off again in October and this was the perfect opportunity to run the rule over a fresh selection.
A thrilling performance was the ideal way to get in the manager’s plans and Fairclough is happy to return home with plenty to ponder.
Fairclough said: “I’ve gone through it and looked at each individual performance. I gauged them on what they achieved compared to what I expected – and they achieved more.
“I knew they were good but I didn’t know they’re as good as they are now I’ve been up close to them. It was a really good performance.”
The transition of ideas from training to match day was clear to see – and Fairclough saluted how quickly the squad soaked up the information that helped secure a resounding victory.
“It’s an incredible thing that they always just do what we ask them to. We go in and set the atmosphere and then we go straight into the football we’re going to play,” Fairclough said.
“From the very first day here on Sunday we were forcing them to play through the thirds with a conditioned game. They had to go through the midfield.
“We developed that and you could see on the night they were doing that. Because we were playing through the thirds Bermuda began to get a little bit of joy because they were outnumbering us in midfield.
“In the second half they thought they’d squeeze up but they didn’t bank on the pace of the two substitutes, James Norwood and Andre Gray, so at that stage we were able to play balls in behind them.
“In the first half it was the midfield who broke the backline, as Sarcevic did for the first goal. After the break our forwards could do that.”
But with a pat on the back for playing easy on the eye football comes the warning – keep on top of your game or the chance won’t come again.
“I’m not knocking what they do at club level but what we do here is say, ‘Go and be as audacious as you want to be, provided it’s in the context of what we’re doing as a team’. “
So all those things they’d like to do on a Saturday but aren’t allowed, they can do. In this country we don’t play enough football, it’s all results orientated.
“While I want to get results I want to do it this way. They relished it because good footballers want to play. I think it gets the best out of them.
“I hope it’s made them want more but I made the point, ‘Well done, but keep performing or you will not be playing’.
“My scouts will be out there, bang, in pre-season. Other young players will be recommended to me straightaway. The must keep performing.”