Mark Jackson hails collective Thorp Arch effort after Leeds United's Under-23s storm to Premier League 2 title
Mark Jackson hailed a collective effort from all involved at Thorp Arch after Leeds United's Under-23s sealed promotion.
The Whites claimed the Premier League 2 Division Two title on Friday night with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at Bodymoor Heath training complex.
United have taken the second tier of category one academy football by storm this season, winning 17 out of their 22 matches - including a nine-game winning streak from November until early March.
Jackson is in his first year as development head coach after replacing the outgoing Carlos Corberan and has guided the club to the top flight of England's academy pyramid at the first time of asking.
Leeds were upgraded to category one status last summer and have made light work of the second division of the Premier League 2 - earning promotion with two games to spare in impressive fashion.
“You can probably still hear in the changing rooms there that the boys are made up. They are celebrating and quite rightly so," Jackson reflected post-match.
“It’s a fantastic achievement from a group of players who have played all season, set their targets, and have achieved them with games to spare as well.
"I am made up for the players throughout the season and for the club as well because it’s important, it is a massive team effort from the players in the squad and also the staff as well.
“Not just the coaching staff, but the recruitment staff as well and everyone who is associated with the team have done really, really well.
“We all sat together on Monday to watch the Palace and Stoke game, we didn’t get the result which meant we won the league then.
“Deep down we wanted to win it on our own terms, in this game. We knew it was going to be tough, I thought we controlled the game for long periods.
“The focus of the players going into the game was fantastic and we came out the traps really sharp and on the front foot.”
Leeds will now face the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea at development level next season in the top division alongside a highly-anticipated renewing of rivalries with Manchester United.
“That’s what we wanted," Jackson continued.
"The club achieved category one status and progressed into the league we are in now, so that is the next step.
“As a club, at every level we want to grow and play against the best opposition. Ultimately, when players play against better opposition and the best in the country, they are going to get better.
“Those challenges are what we are striving for as a club, we will look forward to those challenges next season in the league above.”