The exuberance of youth

by   |   17/05/2018  26 Comments  [Jump to last]

After the dust has settled on what has been an important few days in Everton's history — finally getting rid of Sam Allardyce from our club — we as Evertonians have the opportunity to look forward with optimism about our future under a new manager, with a new Director of Football already in place, and a new board at the helm.

With this in mind, it got me thinking about the future and the generation of kids that we seem have been buying over the last few years and whether folks had a view on who would be the next breakout star into the first team? I was never a fan of the recruitment policy of Steve Walsh (if 'policy' was even the right word!) but some very vaunted youngsters were acquired by Everton over the last couple of years and I'd love to know what's happened to a number of them and what everyone's view is on their potential to make it into the first team in the next season or two.

We have been crying out for years for a decent replacement for Leighton Baines to challenge him and eventually take over from him — and he isn't getting any younger. We bought that Lewis Gibson kid from Newcastle who I've not heard about since — how is he doing? Why has he never been mentioned as a potential replacement for Baines? Garbutt was mentioned loads, but we never hear about Gibson.

There was also Josh Bowler (QPR) and Dennis Adeniran (Fulham) who were bought in the last 12 months, among many others. Does anyone have a view on how these kids are doing and whether any of them may make the grade?

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Michael Kenrick
1 Posted 17/05/2018 at 23:23:08
FWIW, here are the appearances (sub) and goals stats for the upper tier of Under-23 players last season, from 22 Premier League 2 games and 13 various cup games played at that level:

 Bassala Sambou	15 (5)	 3	8 (3)	2
Lewis Gibson 15 (2) 0 8 (1) 0
Morgan Feeney 15 (1) 0 6 (1) 1
Anthony Evans 14 (2) 4 8 (4) 1
Matthew Foulds 14 (1) 1 7 (1) 0
Nathan Markelo 12 (2) 0 10 (1) 0
Mateusz Hewelt 11 (0) 0 6 (0) 0
Beni Baningime 11 (0) 1 4 (0) 0
Josh Bowler 10 (3) 0 6 (2) 0
Harry Charsley 10 (2) 1 6 (0) 0
Luke Garbutt 10 (0) 3 9 (0) 0
Denny Adeniran 10 (0) 0 7 (0) 1
Fraser Hornby 9 (4) 3 6 (1) 0
Conor Grant 7 (2) 0 5 (0) 0
Nate Broadhead 6 (5) 0 6 (0) 2
Alex Denny 6 (3) 0 6 (0) 1
Gethin Jones 6 (1) 0 2 (0) 0
Jose Baxter 5 (4) 0 3 (4) 0
Con Ouzounidis 5 (1) 2 5 (0) 0

Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 18/05/2018 at 00:32:43

Gibson is not yet 18 and is therefore is some distance away.

Adeniran is 19 and Rhino says he trained impressively with the senior side last fall, but was injured in December and lost the rest of the U-23 season.

Bowler just turned 19 and Rhino says he came into his own during the second half of the season.

TW contributors who watched the U-23s this year were particularly complimentary about attacking mid Antony Evans, also 19, who captained the side before he too was halted by an injury.

Alan J Thompson
3 Posted 18/05/2018 at 05:17:30
Michael (#1);

Leaving Baxter out as a special case having previously been with Everton, is it 8 of the players you mention for whom Everton have paid another club a transfer fee?
Jon Withey
4 Posted 18/05/2018 at 12:28:43
Seems to be the loan players that are generally closer to the first team – Onyekuru, Lookman, Dowell, Robinson, Connolly, Williams.

Although Baningime is obviously close and I thought Feeney played well when I saw him.

I was curious which scout got Stones – Tony Henry, who we lost to West Ham a few years ago, and then he was done for racism.

Our scouting has been pretty poor since then really.

Michael Kenrick
5 Posted 18/05/2018 at 15:58:35
Alan, I think you're right: eight or nine of that list are (from memory) imports rather than locals; fees paid often "undisclosed".

A distant cry from recent years when they would almost all be homegrown locals. Sign of the times???

Lyndon Lloyd
6 Posted 18/05/2018 at 17:53:02
Andrew, although Lewis Gibson can fill in at left back, he is naturally a centre-half and appears to have cemented a place alongside Morgan Feeney in the U23s team. Antonee Robinson is said to be a potential replacement for Baines long-term if we don't sign someone else more experienced this summer.

After a slow start that was disrupted by injury, Josh Bowler seemed to really come into his own towards the end of the season so that's really encouraging. Adeniran has been solid from what I can gather without grabbing many headlines. Then, as Mike (2) points out, Antony Evans has, by all accounts, also been making really good progress.

Danny Broderick
7 Posted 18/05/2018 at 19:26:01
There's too much of a gap between academy level and the Premier League. The reserve league is not what it was, and very few players go into the first team directly from the academy now.

These players need to be sent out on loan to learn their trade. Even the likes of Kenny, Calvert-Lewin and Davies would benefit from a season in the Championship. Look at the progress reportedly made by Lookman – he's learnt a new culture, has broken into the first team at Leipzig and made several assists and scored several goals.

These lads need to develop away from the pressures that come from playing for a team in the top 8 in the Premier League.

Kevin Prytherch
8 Posted 30/05/2018 at 20:24:14
From various reports,

Under-23s on loan...

Browning – kept out Lamina alone, our 㾾 million former target, for parts of the season. Rated very highly by Sunderland fans. Might just make it as a back up.

Galloway – polar opposite. Barely played and surely chance has gone now.

Pennington – surprised he got a new deal, very hit and miss for a poor Leeds side and struggled to get in the team for large parts of the season. Did finish the season strongly at right back.

Robinson – played around 40 times after a slow start and broke into the USA team. Definitely one to watch out for.

Williams – regular for Barnsley, either as a holding midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 or on his own in a 4-1-4-1. Model of consistency. Didn't make a name, but didn't make mistakes to get dropped. We turned down a ٟmillion bid for him.

Connolly – played midfield for Wigan last year so was surprised to see him at left back for the Under-20s. Grew and grew at Ipswich, he also expressed concerns about the lack of contact from Everton.

Dowell – 10 goals and 5 assists would be a pleasing return for a number 10, he did this in the first few months then tailed off. Got a glowing report from Karanka.


We know about Baningime, Kenny, Holgate, Vlasic, Lookman and Calvert-Lewin...

Gibson - only 17 and ended the season captaining the Under-23s, give him at least 3 years and we might have a gem.

Feeney – Unsworth can't speak highly enough of him, opposite to Keane in the fact that he is a talker and organises the defence around him.

Markelo – young right back I think who, like Gibson, stepped up for the Under-23s towards the end of the season.

Bowler - again I think he's only 17, started with the Under-18s, ended with the Under-23s. A little exuberant at times by some reports but tricky, fast and can beat a man. Maybe Lookman but 3 years younger.

Evans – captained the Under-23s between Feeney and Gibson. Didn't get many reviews on loan but was promising by all accounts when he came back. At 20 (I think) he's now one of the more senior Under-23 players so could do with an impact soon.

Don't know much about Adeniran, Sambou is a handful but you would expect more goals at this level, and Hornby seems to have impressed after being promoted from the Under-18s.

Steve Ferns
9 Posted 30/05/2018 at 20:42:18
What about Anthony Gordon, Kevin? Bit harsh to build the lad up too much, but I really, really liked what I saw. He missed the end of the season with injury (I think).
Victor Yu
10 Posted 28/06/2018 at 08:45:27
9 youngsters out of 10 will not come through.

I personally believe developing youngsters is a waste of time. You lose more than you gain.

I would rather spend the resource buying players who have a proven track record.

Tommy Carter
11 Posted 28/06/2018 at 09:28:42
The same people who want Dowell to play are probably the same Evertonians who were convinced that Besic was going to be this amazing player.

I like Dowell and the qualities he has, but he'll not have the career some believe he will. He's of an age now where he really needed to kick in and I'm afraid despite some of the brilliant things he is capable of, he has some massive shortcomings and inadequacies. He'll be a decent Championship player and nothing more. If there is a transfer fee on offer, we should take it and go and let him play.

The Premier League is unforgiving and it will be too much for Dowell.

Of all the prospects on our books over the last few years, Galloway had the most potential. However, his progression has stalled badly so again, cash in but with a buy-back clause.

Holgate and Davies are the only two we have who can become regular Premier League players.

Michael Nisbet
12 Posted 28/06/2018 at 09:40:49
Yes Victor, it was a waste of time developing John Stones, Ross Barkley, Wayne Rooney etc. It was also a waste of time buying unproven guys like Seamus Coleman. Let's just pay over the odds for players who other teams have developed.

Or maybe all teams should just stop developing youngsters. Let's see where football would be in 10 years with no youngsters coming through. :-)

Michael Nisbet
13 Posted 28/06/2018 at 10:00:09
It's funny how we all have different ideas on players. For example Tommy (11), I pretty much disagree with you on all players mentioned.

I think of all our youngsters, Dowell is the one who has what it takes to make it. In my opinion he has skill, speed, eye for a pass, eye for a goal, is very direct and causes problems for opposing defenses. Sure he's nowhere near the finished article, but that will come. He will learn the things which are missing, like consistency and timing and decision making. Young players generally don't have this anyway.

I have never thought Galloway would make it. I didn't see anything from him when he had a run in our team which suggested he would. I always cringed when I saw his name on the teamsheet.

Holgate has yet to impress me either. His marking and positional is not up to scratch for me, though I admit he is fast and hard working. Maybe in a year or two with some decent coaching he will become a great centre-half, but I wouldn't be keen on him being one of our starting 11 for a while yet.

Davies is an odd one for me. I am delighted with his progress, and when he broke into the team it was a breath of fresh air. His enthusiasm and grit in midfield was just what we needed. He does need to push on now though, and learn to start scoring more, making better decisions and adding a bit of intelligence to his play. If he fails to progress in the next season or two then he will end up regressing. I'm sure under Silva and his team, he will come ahead though.

Just my opinions anyway, for what it's worth.

Victor Yu
16 Posted 28/06/2018 at 11:01:23
Rooney, Barkley, Osman (average), and Hibbert (below average) are the only three players who came up and have a long career in the PL in the past 15 years.

And the failed list of highly touted prospects?

Cadamerteri, Branch, Chadwick, Baxter, Rodwell, Ball, Jeffers, Galloway, Garbutt, Ledsen, Kissock, Grant, and so on (I probably missed a few). There are tens of youngsters being released every year too.

The success rate of trying to develop youngsters is so low that I don't think it is worth it. It is better to buy someone with proven track record instead.

Michael Nisbet
17 Posted 28/06/2018 at 11:21:43
Yes but somebody has to develop them... proven players were all youngsters somewhere.
Tommy Carter
18 Posted 28/06/2018 at 12:43:08
@ 13 Michael

Galloway performed brilliantly in a few games atvleft back when he was first used by Martinez. Standout game being against Chelsea in 2015.

His natural position is a Centre Back and I do think he could've excelled there with the correct development.

Davies will come good. He's trying to play men's football in a teenagers body. Whilst he won't get any quicker, he'll maintain a good engine and generate good upper body strength that will allow him the split second or two needed to execute the passes that he's capable of

Derek Taylor
19 Posted 28/06/2018 at 13:29:10
I read on here sometime ago that only Ossie had returned from a loan to make anything like a lengthy career with Everton.

For dozens of other academy grads, the 'loan move' was just a euphemism for 'the Bum's Rush' !

Alan J Thompson
20 Posted 28/06/2018 at 13:53:44
Galloway, Browning, Holgate, Pennington, Martina, I know what you mean. Centre halves being played at full back rarely works, really makes you wonder why it happens as often as it does, eh. Still, if it doesn't work for us we can always loan them out for someone else to play them out of position.
Steve Brown
21 Posted 28/06/2018 at 13:54:49
Victor @ 16, thank goodness Alex Ferguson didn't follow your advice on dispensing with a youth policy. He would have got rid of Beckham, Scholes, Butt, the Nevilles and Giggs to buy some expensive players with a proven track record. In fact, of course he did both as the two approaches are not mutually exclusive.

Paul Jones
22 Posted 28/06/2018 at 13:57:26
Hi Derek @19. Don't forget Seamus Coleman who went to Blackpool for a season and came back pushing Hibbert for a starting place!

Not a home grown player of course. But like you say most of our loanees end up out the door.

Steve Brown
23 Posted 28/06/2018 at 13:59:59
Barcelona also brought some raw talent through La Masia. Busquets, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Messi, Valdes, Pique, Ferrer, Sergi. Total transfer value at their peak?
Derek Taylor
24 Posted 28/06/2018 at 14:00:30
But not an academy grad, Paul. Remember we paid huge money to Sligo for his services. Eruuum .
Mike Doyle
25 Posted 28/06/2018 at 14:02:10
Plainly its very difficult for youngsters to break through at any club.
For us . Ozzie and Seamus seem to have benefitted.
For others . Beckham did a year at Preston, while Harry Kane had 4 years of loans at 4 clubs before getting a chance at Spurs.
A couple of spells on loan don't seem to have hindered Lukaku's progress.
Mike Gaynes
26 Posted 28/06/2018 at 14:07:48
Paul #22, no he didn't. Coleman came back from Blackpool a defensive mess, a ballwatching headless chicken who couldn't mark a man or pick an angle. He was 4th choice at RB behind Hibbo, Neville and even Jags. Only got his chance because of a blitz of injuries -- Hibbo and Nev went down and Jags had to shift back to the middle.

Moyes worked with him obsessively -- however you feel about Moyes, the man can teach defensive technique -- and by season's end Seamus was something resembling an adequate defender.

By the middle of the following season, of course, he was a budding star. But he certainly wasn't pushing for a starting place when he first came back from the loan.

John Pierce
27 Posted 28/06/2018 at 14:13:59
Mike your are fairly accurate there. Our utter love for Seamus blinds us sometimes, because he STILL watches the ball too much and often forgets the guy behind him. Obviously his pace gets him out of trouble and he is a better defender now.

Remember Moyes wouldn't play him at RB, didn't trust him, he had a number of appearances at RM if I remember correctly.

But fook that!

“Sixty grand, sixty grand .Seamus Coleman!”

Victor Yu
29 Posted 29/06/2018 at 09:17:33
Yes someone has to develop them. Let someone else develop them and we buy the ones that turn out to be good.

Don't even try to compare the Man Utd era. It is totally different now. Money was not as much a factor as it is now. Nowadays money is the king. Without money you are going nowhere. I agree that it is not healthy but that's the way it is. Either you go with the norm or you are left behind.

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