MANCHESTER, England | Manchester City Elite Development Squad defender Shay Facey is loving every minute as he makes history with New York City FC.
The England youth international has been handed the chance to train with Jason Kreis’ men, and seized it in style, adjusting seamlessly to the stringent demands and high standards expected in a competitive first-team environment.
Facey won a starting place in the team’s first preseason friendly against St Mirren, and was part of history as the Club recorded a first ever win on Tuesday night at City Football Academy.
However, he insists the main focus from the coaches has been improving and developing as a team, and the youngster is hugely enjoying the experience – which he believes has been key to producing his best form.
“It's a strange feeling,” Facey said. “People were tweeting me after the game, telling me I'd made history and I wasn't really aware of it. But I know it’s a big thing for the club and I’m really happy to be a part of that. I’ve felt really happy in the training sessions and playing against St Mirren, and that's the main thing -- to be happy when you're playing because that's when you play at your best.
“There's a lot going on and there's a lot of media attention around New York. The players are focused though because it’s not long before the season starts and Jason wants everyone to be ready.”
The center back spoke with great enthusiasm about working with and learning from Kreis, who he first met in 2014. However, Facey is quick to add that the entire coaching and technical staff, as well as the players, have made the experience what it is.
“Jason is great,” he said. “I met him when he first came over last year. He spent some time with us and I spoke with him then so I already knew who he was and we already had a relationship. That made things a lot easier for me when I went over to America and it was just like being back here really. He, the coaches and the players have made me feel really welcome.
“My best friends in the squad are probably Josh Saunders, and Kwame (Watson-Siriboe), who plays in the center of defense like I do. They came and did a small spell over here, training with us, around a month ago so I already knew them. There's Khiry Shelton, too, who's a similar age to me and we have similar interests. But I get on with everyone to be honest, it’s a great group.”
A nominee for the 2013-14 EDS Player of the Year award for his assured and confident displays at the heart of defense, Facey was keen to bolster his footballing resume with a spell of preseason training with New York – a move that was quick to receive EDS coach Patrick Vieira’s seal of approval.
Vieira recommended the high standard of training and attractive playing style already evident in the embryonic stages of New York City FC’s development could be the ideal platform for Facey to further his development.
“Patrick and I spoke about it with my representative and we discussed how it could be a good step for me to progress onwards,” Facey said. “Everyone's different and everyone needs different things in different times for their progression but for me, it’s been great to train with players who are quite physical and of a high standard.
“The style is very similar to what I’m used to at City too, because Jason likes to have lots of possession and pass out from the back a lot – which is really helpful for me. What Jason asks us to do is not too alien to anybody so everyone's catching on to it and I think it’s working well, playing that style of football.”
Facey played the first 45 minutes of New York City FC’s historic first win on Tuesday night against their Scottish Premiership opponents, and is hoping to log more minutes in Sunday’s friendly against Brondby.
The center back has his sights firmly set on two clean sheets in two games to end the Manchester leg of preseason on a high, but he admits the performance takes precedence over results at this stage.
“We're looking for another good team display -- the same as against St Mirren,” Facey said. “We will set out to keep the ball and have a lot of possession because that's the way we want to play. We'd like a clean sheet too if possible but the performance is the main thing rather than the result. The boys are looking to improve as a team all the time."