Unsworth made up for Academy graduates

Friday 7 April 2017  35 Comments  [Jump to last]

David Unsworth is full of pride at the number of Academy products who have come through his Under-23s team to feature in important roles at first-team level this season.

The former Blues defender's team currently lead Premier League 2 despite the likes of Tom Davies, Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin having made the step up to the senior side under Ronald Koeman in recent weeks.

And with Matthew Pennington making his first start of the season in last Saturday's Merseyside derby and Jonjoe Kenny and Joe Williams named among the substitutes in the past two games, the importance and success of Everton's youth system has been very much evidence of late.

“It's been a wonderful couple of weeks for the Academy,” Unsworth told evertontv, “and the feeling is so strong, so together, and it really is brilliant when you see the end product of these lads getting the opportunity to play in our first team.

“It's brilliant to see, not just for the Under-23s but the whole Academy as well. The Academy produces great players and this is the right club for young Premier League footballers to come and develop and enjoy their journey with us. We produce these young footballers and there's no better place to play.

“We've got a manager at the moment who is not afraid to play the young lads and not afraid to put them in in threes and fours and fives, and it's just so refreshing.

“It also says everything about them as individuals, it says everything about the programme that we have in place from very, very young age groups up to Under-23 level.

“It's very much a team here. We have a group of coaches who are so passionate, who love this Club and we all strive for the same thing, which is to sit in the stands on a Saturday and see our homegrown players develop, play, be successful and win in our first team.”


Reader Comments (35)

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Kieran Fitzgerald
1 Posted 07/04/2017 at 07:06:50
It is nice to see. However the real proof for me is the team sheet for the start of next season. Of the likes of Holgate, Pennington and Lewin, how many will be playing with the first team come August. You can add Browning and Galloway to that list as well.

I know I sound harsh but that is the real proof for me that these players are good enough. At this stage of any season, injuries and dead rubber games give younger players their chance. The question is whether they will do enough in these games, and pre-season in July, to warrant being kept in the team for August.

Darren Hind
2 Posted 07/04/2017 at 07:14:47
The more I hear from Rhino the more I like him.

He's gathering experience and by the time the latest hired hand rides off into the sunset with his saddle bags bursting. Our boy could well be ready to make the step up.

We have historically done better when "one of our own" is at the helm. I want to believe our academy is not just for the players

Robert Leigh
3 Posted 07/04/2017 at 07:31:46
Great for the Academy - though we have been unlucky with injuries. Perhaps for the first time we are regretting letting some out on loan; when you consider our back line for the weekend will most likely be:

Holgate - Pennington - Jagielka - Baines

When it could have been:

Browning - Holgate - Jagielka - Baines, or;
Holgate - Jagielka - Galloway - Baines

No doubt we would have been better off with some of them, as well as Geri sat on the bench. I won't count McGeady or Niasse as some others would as they were never in our plans for the year. Add Grant in to the midfield options (Barry one booking short of another suspension) we could be short in a couple of weeks!

James Stewart
4 Posted 07/04/2017 at 08:13:26
I certainly agree on Browning and Galloway Robert. They should be in our squad.
Liam Reilly
5 Posted 07/04/2017 at 08:21:54
Isn't Browning injured or just recovering?

The litmus test will be where Koeman spends his funds close season, because that's were he's still to be convinced by the graduates.

Gary Russell
6 Posted 07/04/2017 at 08:42:07
Galloway was a joy to watch last season, but then his glow dimmed. I looked him up last week as I thought he had returned from Pulis. Still at WBA, not getting a game it seems.
Mark Andersson
7 Posted 07/04/2017 at 09:15:24
Good point made by Darren Hind. Our current manager has done okay for his first season. Let's see who he targets in the summer and who he gets shut of. The whole Lukaku debate will a bore fest so the sooner he leaves the better.

Have the team got any pride to go and finish the season with a bang, I certainly hope so, Ronnie should be telling every one of them your fighting for you shirt for next season now – not in the summer pre-season games.

We need more quality signings to boost the squad as no doubt Ronnie will have already have an idea who he will let go.

Robert Leigh
8 Posted 07/04/2017 at 09:22:39
Liam (#5)
Browning is on loan at Preston, gather he was playing well until getting a knock. So much so he was being linked with Swansea in some (rags) papers.

Also nothing about Garbutt anywhere, he is back at EFC but not getting a look in anywhere it seems.

Ajay Gopal
9 Posted 07/04/2017 at 09:28:28
With Liverpool FC being banned for 2 years from recruiting for their academy, it probably means more talent from the local area will play for Everton, and that can only be more good news for the club.
Ray Robinson
10 Posted 07/04/2017 at 09:49:46
Ajay, I think you'll find that the two-year ban, which may only turn out to be one in fact, only relates to signing players from other academies.
Frank Crewe
11 Posted 07/04/2017 at 11:28:27
Davies is certainly an Academy product but the likes of Calvert-Lewin, Holgate, Lookman, were players we bought.

Pennington is only playing because of Coleman's and Funes Mori's injuries. We don't have another CB Koeman can pick. Personally if there are any experienced CB's out of contract I would sign them on a short contract till the end of the season.

What I want to know is why 㾷 million Lookman is sitting on the bench instead of running around on the pitch.

Kevin Gillen
12 Posted 07/04/2017 at 11:47:27
What has happened to Dowell? One start, two assists last year. Surely with a misfiring Barkley he should at least be on the bench from time to time?

I think Barkley was brilliant before he went off on the International Break by the way.

Peter Gorman
13 Posted 07/04/2017 at 11:57:59
One start, two assists??

I would love to see Dowell develop but he blows hot and cold like Barkley so I doubt Koeman or the fans could stomach both.

I have been more surprised at Holgate and Pennington playing outside their normal position at right-back when we have Jonjoe Kenny about ready to step up.

We also have Gethin Jones, who I didn't rate as highly, doing a pretty decent job in the Championship with Barnsley. Recalling him is another option.

Sam Hoare
14 Posted 07/04/2017 at 12:10:09
My worry is that Unsworth's U23s are a good 'team' but not filled with individuals blessed with unique talent which is what you often need in order to make it into a Premier League team with top 4 aspirations.

I hope I'm wrong but I suspect many of these vaunted youngsters will find themselves in championship teams or lower Premier League teams (which is still quite the achievement).

I'm pleased the U23s are doing so well but in some ways i'd rather see them struggling in their league but with one or two exceptional talents in the Rooney, Barkley mold. Those talents don't come around very often though there are high hopes I believe for Liam Walsh.

Brian Furey
16 Posted 07/04/2017 at 12:36:00
It's great to see the U23s doing so well and it will be great for their confidence if they can win the Premier League 2.

Koeman has shown a huge turnaround from not wanting to play any of the young lads earlier in the season to almost playing too many of them at any one time.

It's always a huge step up and whilst Davis and Lookman did well when they initially came into the team, it was only natural that their impact would diminish. Actually, have we seen Lookman in the last month?

Whilst most of us would like to see our young players develop well and get into the first team, I think we also would like to see us bring in some great summer signings if we are going to be realistic about competing with the top 6 with an aim to break into the top 4.

Dean Cooper
17 Posted 07/04/2017 at 13:41:08
We pretty much have seventh place on lock, which will secure a return to European football.

We are now able to see whether our academy graduates can cut it at this level, if they can't, they'll be shipped off to their appropriate levels and replaced by new prospects.

With the number of players coming through the academy, whether forced through injury or not, it would only increase the appeal of our club to players in that 16-20-year-old range with Premier League aspirations.

I am loving the way the club is being run under Farhad Moshiri, big things are coming.

Alexander Murphy
18 Posted 07/04/2017 at 13:50:28
Introducing our youngsters is a tightrope-walking exercise, isn't it ?

If we don't play them, they can't gain experience. Play them too much and they are Darren Gibson's at the age of 25.

I'm still very encouraged by Barkley's progress this season. As I've said before, he's leaner, he's meaner and he's keener.

Rhino? Very impressive coaching. He worked bloody hard at gathering wider experience long before Everton correctly hired him. Wasn't it following a very praiseworthy article in The Times or Telegraph or Guardian that days later saw Everton hiring him?

Charlie Lloyd
19 Posted 07/04/2017 at 14:08:47
Sam @ 14

I reckon you could be right there with the idea they are a team rather than great individuals. I certainly hope they all progress but I'm doubting it from what I've seen.

Davies & Holgate – no doubts.

Browning, Pennington & Galloway - possibly like Shane Duffy will be more suited a level down.

Galloway & Jones – they'll play a decent level though not near the first team at Everton.

Walsh – possible. Decent little player who needs a career defining loan to the championship next season.

Dowell – too much of a luxury player for the first team. He has talent can produce but in his position for the top level he needs to be outstanding. I expect a decent career though. He sort of reminds me of Chris Eagles. Maybe not fully in his play but that ability to produce the sublime with periods of non effectiveness.

Joe Williams – he has some limited qualities but lots of desire and graft. He has a chance but slim.

Henen – sorry no chance.

Garbutt – disappointing how he has stalled. For those wanting him around the first team, this is a player who has barely played for Wigan on loan at 23 due to being behind Stephen Warnock in his mid 30s.

Charlie Lloyd
20 Posted 07/04/2017 at 16:54:44
Galloway & Jones above should have been Connolly (on loan at Wigan) & Jones
Peter Gorman
21 Posted 07/04/2017 at 17:02:05
Charles – what do you make of Jonjoe Kenny and Harry Charsley?

Personally I'd like to see Kenny involved more as Coleman's understudy and Charsley just keeps on developing year after year.

Tony Hill
22 Posted 07/04/2017 at 17:59:57
I'm backing Calvert-Lewin despite his unfortunate appearance on Tuesday. He's a big goalscorer in the making that boy, when he's played in the right place and at the right time.
Lev Vellene
23 Posted 07/04/2017 at 20:46:40
Calvert-Lewin looked very good in his first games. He just needs to understand that he's in a big pond now, and that the opposition will know more about him from their pre-game briefings, and thus will play close and rough so as not to allow him to dance around like he did in his early games!
William Cartwright
24 Posted 07/04/2017 at 21:22:29
Great to see the academy doing so we, and I have great faith in, and respect for Unsy. The reality behind the academy is that only a few will crack the first team, and realistically, that is how it should be. Ledson and McAleney enjoying success at other cubs being cases in point.

Whoever manages to break into the first team is fantastic for the club. However if a better player is available from outside at the right price then that theoretically at least, improves the bottom line. No disrespect for the players, just the facts of life.

But the Academy is a great part of the club and should be encouraged as much as possible.

Charlie Lloyd
28 Posted 07/04/2017 at 21:56:36
Peter @ 21

Kenny – needs to play this season and lets see what he's got. Holgate inside and him at RB. A leader and tenacious but has moved round positions in the academy a bit before settling back at RB. Not the marauding type preferred these days but a steady performer.

Charsley – one who has had a decent U23s season by accounts but I've not really seen him enough. Other players have stood out on the games I've seen.

Calvert-Lewin – amazing season for a lad signed for ٟm in August. If he can keep developing who knows but lets give him time and accept the times he'll be average he could get that improvement and consistency.

Kiern Moran
29 Posted 07/04/2017 at 22:07:11
What I found impressive and staggering about the side we put out in the Derby was the fact Davies was the youngest player, yet he looks so natural in the side. I really think we are building something special here.
Charlie Lloyd
30 Posted 07/04/2017 at 22:08:11
As William mentions not all the lads are going to make it and in all fairness few will stay and play more than a dozen games. What the academy has produced over the last decade is not only a number of lads who have had a handful of games for the first team (Duffy at Brighton and Forshaw at Middlesbrough) but lots of players who play at League 1&2 level. Watch most games at that level and there's an ex blue playing.

The numbers being pushed through and playing league football is as much as any club. It's just unearthing the absolute gems we need which would save us a fortune and could be the answer to get us in that top 4 in time.

Tony Abrahams
31 Posted 07/04/2017 at 22:17:43
The absolute gems are there Charlie, and have possibly saved Everton, from going into administration during "The Kenwright Years".

Also agree that young Jonjoe Kenny needs to be given a chance, because I'm sure he's ready to play, and it's really the only way, we are ever going to find out if he's good enough for Everton's first team?

Michael Connelly
32 Posted 07/04/2017 at 22:19:42
Was seeing double there for a minute William; now I'm seeing double double. Knew I shouldn't have had that last whiskey
Bill Griffiths
33 Posted 07/04/2017 at 22:33:53
Watched EFC X1 play Wrexham in the 2015-16 pre-season. Initial thoughts were that Liam Walsh & Antonee Robinson were stand out players ability wise.

Tom Davies stood out regarding fitness & attitude rather than footballing ability. Tom Davieshas obviously progressed significantly since then.
Haven't seen Wash since.

I have seen Robinson once since against Blackpool this season in that obscure cup (can't remember it's name) when he again was a stand out performer

I can't believe Robinson is not closer to the first teammates this team. While I think Leighton is good for now, I think to Robinson would be a more than adequate replacement..

Jay Harris
34 Posted 07/04/2017 at 23:01:59
Talking about the kids, am I right in saying they are now 2 points clear of City with a game in hand but the last 3 fixtures are Spurs at home, Chelsea, away and the RS at home.

I can't seem to find any info out on the OS and the net is a bit sparse with info.

Charlie Lloyd
35 Posted 08/04/2017 at 00:51:39

Go to Everton U23 soccerway from google.

It's a very comprehensive site for the club and league.

Puts the OS to shame.

Eric Myles
36 Posted 08/04/2017 at 01:04:46
It's a bit of a double-edged sword, while it's great to see the academy players progress, it shows our lack of squad depth.

So nothing has really changed from the days when Moyes was forced to have teenagers on the bench.

Ian Riley
37 Posted 08/04/2017 at 01:09:49
Well done, David Unsworth! One thing to develop youngsters. It's another to see them develop enough to play in the first team.
Denis Richardson
38 Posted 08/04/2017 at 11:51:34
Unsy's doing a great job so far but I wouldn't be holding my breath hoping for the academy to be producing large numbers of players for the first team. It's incredibly hard to bring one player through to be a first-team regular, let alone a number.

Many players look great in the early years but won't have what it takes to be a first team regular, hence loads ending up in leagues 1 & 2, some in the championship.

If Unsworth manages to deliver one regular first team member every two years, he would have done a great job imo.

Davies has been a real success so far so full credit there. He can only take a little credit for the likes of Calvert-Lewin, Holgate and Lookman as we bought them so didn't exactly bring them through ourselves. Personally I don't think Calvert-Lewin has what it takes to be a regular (yet anyway) and would hope Holgate will be in the first team squad next year as he did a decent job last season. Lookman needs a bit of time too.

I also have my doubts on Pennington, he looked like a fish out of water in the derby (harsh first league start admittedly) and at 22, you have to wonder why it's taken so long for him to make his first league start, he's got 50 odd appearances on loan in League 1 already. Can only tell once he gets more games under his belt, maybe he'll be a late bloomer. I think he has another year on his contract so would seem next year is make or break for him at Everton. If we buy another centre-back (or two) then I don't see him getting regular game time, especially with Holgate and Browning both available as well. He'll be at best 5th, if not 6th, in the centre-back pecking order.

Hope to be proven wrong but I don't think Calvert-Lewin and Pennington will be playing regularly in blue in the coming years.

Jay Harris
39 Posted 09/04/2017 at 03:44:18
Thanks Charlie.

That is a much more informative site. CAnt understand why the OS is not giving the lads more coverage.

It looks like we are 2 points clear with Spurs(H) Chelsea (a) and the other lot (H) to come while City have The RS (A) and Southampton (H).

We need at least 4 points from 3 games to be sure if City win their last 2.

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