Do we remember the days of Walter Smith and Gascoigne, Ginola, Blomqvist? The days when experience was what we were buying, even if in the opinion of many a supporter we thought some of them could have done with a motorised Zimmer frame to help them get around the pitch.
How times have changed!
A bit of history
Walter had tried youth and it had not worked. In his first season he regularly played three teenagers but slowly the old guard came in and in one match where we started with seven players over 30. Moyes continued with the “experienced” policy and the team which took of us to a debatable decision away from the Champions League group stages averaged almost 29. But then the new blood came in and by the end of the 08/09 season, the average age of the team that season was under 27 even with Howard, Cahill and Phil Neville who were all over 30. He had even managed to send out a team with an average age of under 25 at Newcastle (the game when Nolan did Anichebe and Arteta did his cruciate).
But then he let stood by the old guard and they all got older and by the time he left four years later, the average age was over 29. The oldest Everton team since, well, since before my records began.
Martinez and Koeman did try to replace with a younger set of players but the team inherited by Marco Silva, and more importantly in this respect Marcel Brands, was an average of 27⅓.
Last season was noticeable for the change of policy to bringing in exciting younger talent.
For the first time since the 1989-90 season we did not send out a team which had 3 or more players who were aged over 30. And 4 of the 6 times we did send out more than one 30-year-old was because Digne was banned or Keane was injured.
Apart from one match in 2008-09, we have never sent out a team which did not contain someone over 30. We did it 9 times last season when Seamus Coleman, who is now our only regular starter aged over 30, was replaced by Kenny.
The average age of the team sent out last season was under 26¼, the lowest since Walter Smith’s kids experiment 20 years ago.
The team at Arsenal and home to Fulham had an average age of under 25, again the youngest since that 1998-99 team.
Perhaps the most obvious of statements is that a lot of the team are one year older today than they were this time last year, but they are also one year more experienced.
Coleman is the father of the team and turns 31 in a couple of months while Sigurdsson will be 30 before the end of the year. Digne, Bernard, André Gomes and Keane are all still just 26. Pickford is 25 and Mina soon to be while Gbamin will soon be 24. And our two most exciting forwards in Richarlison and Kean are 22 and 19½. Yes, Kean will be the first player born this millennium to play for the Everton first team.
Our most likely first selection is aged just 25 years 8 months.
Taking the most played (by minutes) players in the 2017-18 season, gone from the defence are Jagielka, Baines, Williams and Martina as well as Schneiderlin and Rooney as we headed back to the days of an old “experienced” team but without probably the stamina and speed needed for today’s Premier League. Without the teenage Tom Davies, the average age of the 9 outfield players most used in the season before last was a staggering 30 years 8 months. We are likely to send out a team which is 5 years younger on Saturday – and that assume DCL plays rather than Kean.
It is a remarkable turnaround and if this team can stay together for at least 2 years the future looks very bright.
I think we need to refer to him as Marcel “Hannibal Smith” Brands. I love it when a plan comes together and he certainly seems to have given us an “A Team”
Reader Comments (7)
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1 Posted 05/08/2019 at 19:23:10
Certainly took a long time to replace the defence. Not helped that Garbutt, Galloway and Browning didn't live up to expectations of course. I'm guessing Kenny has this year to prove what his future plans will be but hopefully that's another young player for the foreseeable future.
Ginola and Gazza... what I'd give to have them at Everton in their prime.
2 Posted 06/08/2019 at 02:37:44
Poccichino does it, Klopp does it, I think Lampard (done it last year at derby and wont have as much of a choice as most Chelsea bosses due to transfer ban)and Ole (looking at his 3 signings plus his usage of the younger players last season) will look to do it too.
Pep may not use as many youngsters but imo his squad is a different level to everyone else's, almost every player is a top top international and was acquired when at the peak of there powers.
I know he failed, but Martinez tried to follow this strategy in terms of getting his squad age down, I know he brought in Barry also to be the pro of the squad, but at a stage he was doing great things with a team which included Rom, Del boy, Galloway, Stones, McCarthy and Barkley aswel as adding Holgate and Besic to the squad.
Long may this strategy continue, it's basically a must especially for a club like ours where we don't have that top tier financial structure to buy the very best players at the peak of the powers.
Only dinosaurs like Sam Allardyce bring aging players to a club like us, Jose Mourinho has often done it also but he's often buying for instant success.
Silva and Brands must be allowed the next two seasons at least to keep improving us, no matter what the results (excluding relegation of course), they have to be allowed to bear the fruits of there players, they have to see out the transition were players like Richalison amongst others reach there full potential, even if it means being sold for a huge huge profit, and reinvesting there money into the squad to push us onto a new level. This is how Liverpool have done it (player wise more so than just management) players like Suarez, Courtinho, Sterling all leaving as there best player only for there money to be used wisely to purchase a better squad rather than just a few star players. Add that to then getting a truly world class manager (yep that hurt), and now look at them, they are right there on the cusp of being in and around Europes elite.
Spurs have done it a little differently, they have had a similar philosophy under Levy (Carrick, Berbatov, Bale) but also touched lucky imo with getting Harry kane on a plate, and then getting Poccichino who for me is a gem of a signing who brought in Deli Ali, son, Trippier, and so on to push spurs on.
Let's hope Marcel and Silva are our dream team, let's hope Kean is as good as Richalison, Gbamin can fill Gana's big shoes, Delph can become a big part player instead of a bit part player, let's keep our fingers crossed that players like Bernard, Keane, Digne, Pickford and Siggy will go up another level this season, and others who our manager has put faith in like Gomes, DCL, Mina, and Davies, can repay that faith. Lastly let's hope our final few days of this transfer market can be fruitful, all the talk is we have another big deal in us (Dacoure, Zaha, Neres linked), plus we are lead to believe we will get another 2 players to go with our big one in a centre half plus a right back (even if there on a loan deal).
Get the above in order and right and who knows what we could achieve, parts of me think it will be a battle to sneak top 6, maybe just miss out to 7th or 8th but I have a bit of hope again that we could snatch that elusive top 4 slot that catapults a team into big money, if we done that then just imagine what Brands and Silva might go onto do next.
A new season upon us, here's to hoping.
3 Posted 06/08/2019 at 09:47:42
Memory may serve me incorrectly here but before his knee injury (vs Villa?) Gazza showed flashes of his brilliance while with us and wasn't a dreadful signing.
Ginola sadly was a desperation signing, played one game and within 2 weeks Moyes was hired and swiftly got rid of him. Shame because, as you said, in his prime, he was a marvellous player; what we could do with someone like him now on the left wing...
4 Posted 06/08/2019 at 20:59:56
Yes Gazza definitely had his moments at Everton.
5 Posted 07/08/2019 at 00:22:39
6 Posted 07/08/2019 at 21:45:28
Kean looks sensational!!
8 Posted 08/08/2019 at 23:31:36
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