Do we really have an Academy?

by   |   06/01/2020  42 Comments  [Jump to last]

Whilst we all angry as hell following that non-performance, just take a minute out to wonder why we are continuing to have to play the likes of Sigurdsson, Schneiderlin, Coleman, Walcott, etc. Why aren’t they looking over their shoulders at new talent coming through – but, wait, what talent ?

I have been rabbiting on all last season and most of this in trying to get to the bottom of why we aren’t producing our own talent. What’s happening at the Academy, the U18s, U23s? Where is the homegrown talent, and when are the 16- or 17-year-old purchases also coming through. Where are our equivalents to :

(i) Liverpool - Alexander Arnold , Gomes, Jones, Philips

(ii) Man Utd – Rashford, Lingard, Greenwood, McTominay,

(iii) Spurs - Rose, Kane, Wicks, Alli

(iv) Chelsea – Abrahams, Hudson –Odoi, Mount,

(v) Arsenal – Maitland Miles, Martinelli, Saka, Willcott

We’ve got Calvert-Lewin, Holgate and on the fringe Davies, and to name a few more just about to come through according to Unsworth – Gibson, Gordon, Adeniran. Of that lot, only Davies and if he ever comes through Gordon, have come through the Academy, not a lot over last 4-5 years. The rest were bought, not for peanuts either. We buy Brendan Galloway from MK Dons, and at same time Spurs buy Alli; one plays for England, one can’t find a club.

People will say Unsworth has won the PL2 for 2 out of last 3 seasons, they have but if you’ve watched it, it's absolute dire defensive football, with NO talent at all being brought through. The likes of Dowell, Robinson, Connolly, Evans, Williams, have all gone out on loan and can’t get game time anywhere, even at Div 1 or 2 level. It’s just not good enough. We have as normal given our ex-pro’s jobs they don’t deserve — Jeffers, Unsworth, Ebbrell, etc.

Brands has to have a massive Academy, U18, U23 clear out – it ain’t working at all!

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Stan Schofield
1 Posted 07/01/2020 at 10:30:08
Of course we have an academy, a very good one.

The youngsters listed above play for Liverpool, Spurs, etc., in the 'top-6' sides. These sides have been well organised and functional. The youngsters listed have entered the 1st team amongst seasoned and well-performing professionals. The likes of Alexander-Arnold and Gomez have benefitted from playimg alongside van Dijk, and similarly for those other youngsters.

In contrast, our youngsters have been brought into dysfunctional Everton sides, with little or no leadership from the experienced professionals. Any youngster being expected to perform in a dysfunctional side is likely to struggle.

If this article has been influenced by the Derby result on Sunday, I should warn against extrapolating from that shit-show. We lost because we were shite, not because the Liverpool youngsters were particularly good. If we'd played half-decently, we would have thrashed them. Hats off to them for exploiting our shite performance, but don't use that result to form hasty conclusions about academies.

Steve Ferns
2 Posted 07/01/2020 at 11:06:59
I looked a couple of years back and since 2000 Everton had produced more internationals from the academy than any other club. This should still be the case, but maybe Spurs have gone past us, but I doubt it as most of their talent is "bought in".

The u23s win trophies, but the issue is that most of the top quality players you named skip the u23 level and go straight into the first team.

Then there is the misconception you make that other clubs are developing players in their academy:

1. Joe Gomez - signed from Charlton
2. Nathaniel Phillips - signed from Bolton

Man Utd: You needed to choose 3 players older than Tom Davies to prove your point there and one of whom is older than Ross Barkley.

1. Delle Alli - bought from MK Dons
2. 29 year old Danny Rose was signed from Leeds
3. Winks is 23, Kane is 26.

Have an excellent bunch, but were held up until Lampard came in as an example of how not to run an academy and who knows if they would have finally brought these players through if not for the transfer ban.

1. Martinelli - signed from Brazil

Our academy has been successful as the following players have played Premier League games for our first team:
Anthony Gordon - 18
Tom Davies - 21
Beni Baningime - 21
Jonjo Kenny - 22
Kieran Dowell - 22

A lot of the players on your list never came through the clubs academies so we could also include Mason Holgate, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ademola Lookman, John Stones and Brendan Galloway as players who played for the academy sides before making the step up. We purchased Lewis Gibson and Dennis Adeniran to boost our quality, but neither have broken through yet.

The academy has stalled this season, but that's because you cannot have a good crop every year. No club does it. Man Utd struggled from the Rashford age-group and only now have Greenwood, Gomes and Chong coming through. But they scout far and wide and their reputation pulls kids in from Holland in the case of Chong, and in the case of Gomes and others they can persuade London boys to come north. We tried to sign Joshua Zirkzee (Dutch) recently, but he turned us down for Bayern and now the 18 year old has made their first team and has 2 in 2.

The u18s have been a problem for the last few years. Anyone who follows them could see the problem coming as there was a drop off and only Gordon and Gibson looked capable of stepping up. However, we now have a brilliant crop of 16 year olds playing in the u18s, players like Lewis Dobbin who are chased by Bayern Munich:
- Lewis Dobbin LF CF
- Tom Cannon CF RF
- Lewis Warrington CM
- Bobby Carroll CM
- Rafael Garcia - Spanish lad bought from Fulham

And best of the lot, Tyler Onyango, a giant 16 year old with a Fellaini afro who is already playing every game for our u23s. Let's also not forget Ellis Simms who is only 18, as well as 20 year old Feeney who I won't write off just yet, but I am thinking time has gone for Antony Evans. Kyle John is an 18 year old winger come right-back who looks exciting, but he needs to learn to defend a bit better.

I think the u23s have gone stale and Brands does need to shake them up, but I understand that Unsworth will leave this summer, so let's see if those rumours are true. Unsworth is Director of Coaching, which in the Brands era of a DoF is ridiculous, and he needs to get rid of that position and assume personal oversight of the various academy sides, and particularly coaching standards.

So yeah, it's been a barren few years for the u18s, but with this crop of 16 and 17 year olds, the future is bright, and we just need to develop them properly, and a shakeup by Brands is on the cards in any event.

Eric Myles
3 Posted 07/01/2020 at 11:12:51
Mike, were you of the opinion that Big Dunc only put out the cones also?
Steve Ferns
4 Posted 07/01/2020 at 11:16:10
I do want to add that Joshua Zirkzee was not a rumour. He acutally played a few games for our academy side in a summer tournament as part of a two way trial. We really wanted him but he obviously went for Bayern.

The most successful academies in recent years have included Fulham, Derby, and Stoke. But what does that do for them? Fulham came up of course with their most precious gem shining bright in the Championship in Ryan Sessegnon, but he struggled in the Premier League, as he showed how big the step up was. He's still only 19 and of course signed for Spurs in the summer for £25m which will make Fulham's investments in their Academy more than worth it.

The key question is what is the point of the academy? We have won 2 of the last 3 Premier League 2 trophies (as the u23 competition is now called). None of those title winning sides have come through as Dowell played only a couple of games, and Tom Davies played only a handful of games for the first of the title winning sides as he leapfrogged into the first team. Anthony Gordon was in the side for a few games, but then found himself on the bench watching Josh Bowler, now at Hull on loan.

Sam Hoare
5 Posted 07/01/2020 at 11:20:45
Controversial view but I think Unsworth has not done a great job in the last 3 years.

I think that he may have prioritised winning games and trophies over the development of young players for the first team; which in my view should always be the priority.

Unlike at Liverpool the U23s did not play in the same style and formation as Silva's team and often he was picking older players (even Charsley who has no contract I don't think) thus blocking the routeways of some of the younger more promising players like Astley.

I've read some articles by people (who may or may not be ITK) claiming that Brands has not been happy about Unsworth's work in this regard but it has been as sticking point with Kenwright who loves the old boys and puts up Unsworth winning of youth trophies as indications of his success. It's been about 3 years now since a youth player came into the first team and played more than a few minutes; no-one since the Davies, Kenny, Dowell batch.

Steve Ferns
6 Posted 07/01/2020 at 11:25:04
Sam, you forgot Anthony Gordon.
Steve Ferns
7 Posted 07/01/2020 at 14:55:52
Joao Virginia returns from his dreadful loan spell at Reading early. Link

So we now have 4 keepers and a headache. Pickford is the undisputed number 1. Not saying that I think he's untouchable, but no one else plays so he clearly is. Then we have Stek and Lossl. In the u23s he have the impressive young Harry Tyrer and Nico Hansen. So where does Joao slot in? Clearly a sub for Reading cannot be on our bench as he is not good enough. He is young enough for the u23s, but slotting back in there will stump the growth of the other two, though both are only 18 and so still eligible for the u18s. It would also see Virginia further back than where he was when he left, when he was vying for a position on our bench.

It's most likely that he will be lined up to go on loan to another club.

John Keating
8 Posted 07/01/2020 at 15:39:06
Not only the RS in the cup and derby game but other sides have shown that youngsters usually don't ket the side down

For some reason we refuse to play our youngsters but more importantly we rarely put them on the bench

Was JJK not worth a punt over Coleman and Sidibe?
Was a 100% committed Gordon more of a risk than Walcott
Is not one 100% committed youngster not better than the disgraces which are Schneiderlin and Sigi ?

We continue to play failed players who show nothing rather than take a punt with the kids
The RS have shown us the way but we keep saying our youngsters are not ready. Shit excuse
Anyones better than some putting on the shirt each week

Steavey Buckley
9 Posted 07/01/2020 at 17:13:29
The problem is not with the academy but with 1st team management, who ignore the fact that the under 23s have won the PL2 twice in recent years against teams who have promoted their under 23s into their 1st teams. It must be disheartening for David Unsworth and his coaching team and their under 23 players to be ignored most of the time by the 1st team, especially, when the 1st team have usually played badly for most of the time.

Since Everton 1st team played so badly against mostly Liverpool's under 23s who can be beaten by Everton's under 23s, this is the right time to promote them into the 1st team since there is little to play for except staving off relegation and the pride of playing for the blues.

Kieran Kinsella
10 Posted 07/01/2020 at 17:24:40

The u23s tend to lose to Liverpool. Also our under 23s are generally older than theirs. Regarding first team chances if you look at loan spells for Dowell Connolly Beningame Galloway Charsley Evans Mathis etc who among them has looked even close to EPL standard. JJK is the bright spot but he’s 23 now and played a lot of first team games before going on loan

Steve Ferns
11 Posted 07/01/2020 at 17:54:48
Jonjo is still only 22 Kieran.
Mike Oates
12 Posted 07/01/2020 at 19:24:47
Steve # 2
I did raise purchases of the like of DCL, Holgate but they were bought to go straight into the U23's or even the 1st team like Lookman, and Stones. None of them came up through our U8's to U18's. Davis did and Gordon did. Gordon has played 10mins so far, so to call him a 1st team player is wrong as yet, and the same can be said for the likes of Baningime, Dowell who have had minimal game time with Everton. Baningime and Dowell haven't been near a 1st team this season, the former with us and Dowell with Derby County.

We've been told repeatedly the likes of Feeney, Gibson, Hornby, Adeniran, Evans, Baningime, Bowler are ready for last 12-24months by Unsworth. We'll never find out, either they are not good enough, or they'll never be given a chance, but if you look at our loan lads very very few make it, or come back better.
Chelsea's Abrahams, Mount, Tomoyo go to Aston Villa, Derby and produce the goods to the point where their given there chance AND prove they are Premiership players.

Tony Abrahams
13 Posted 07/01/2020 at 19:30:20
I heard Brands was asking questions the minute he came into the club Sam, about the very things you reason on why Unsworth hasn’t done as good as job as expected with regards to getting players through?
Brent Stephens
14 Posted 07/01/2020 at 19:36:35
"People will say Unsworth has won the PL2 for 2 out of last 3 seasons, they have but if you’ve watched it, its absolute dire defensive football, with NO talent at all being brought through".

A small point but, until this season, the U23s have not played dire defensive football IMO. They've been good on the eye going forward, as well as solid defensively. The last clause about no talent coming through is more accurate.

Mike Gaynes
15 Posted 07/01/2020 at 19:37:08
Steve F, thanks very much for the informed opinions. Your having seen so much of these players is very helpful.

Sam #5, I've never seen the U23s play, but I tend to agree with you.

Brent Stephens
16 Posted 07/01/2020 at 19:40:20
Sam #5 "Unlike at Liverpool the U23s did not play in the same style and formation as Silva's team".

That's something that always intrigued me, Sam. Also intrigued that this season we've seen the U23s play a lot of 4-5-1, in contrast to mainly 4-4-2 prior to this season. Perhaps the 4-5-1 has been dictated by a defence without Feeney and Gibson for much of the time?

Mike Oates
17 Posted 07/01/2020 at 19:40:22
I'm of the opinion that Klopp knew everyone one of his youngsters, and I mean knew them personally, was like a father figure, is the Manager of Liverpool FC, U8's to 1st team. They look up to him.

I don't believe, Koeman, or Silva got even close to ever watching the U23's let alone the Academy lads. Koeman didn't even know the Southampton youngster who run us ragged back at St Mary's in his 1st season as manager of us, and he'd only just left them !

Our DOF needs to ensure that at least a youngster gets on the bench for every game. Gordon should be tried before Walcott, Bernard, even Gibson or Feeney now that we are short at that position and particularly since Keane is shot completely.

Steve Ferns
18 Posted 07/01/2020 at 19:43:13
Mike, Antony Evans could not secure the right loan last summer, so clubs do not think he is good enough for a lower level than us. Dowell has flattered to deceive in the Championship and failed when given a chance in our first team. Baningime was not good enough for Wigan, when they played him once in 6 months. Feeney and Gibson can't stay fit long enough to prove themselves ready. Bowler's form was all over the place and the younger Gordon got promoted from the u18s in his place, only for him to win it back at the end of the season and do enough to get the Hull loan. Adeniran has really struggled this season, the managers have had him in the first team squad ALL season long, and yet he has failed to make the bench when we had 5 central midfielders injured. Unsworth is even taken to playing him wide on the right now, and is playing a 16 year old in his place.

They are not ready Mike. They are not good enough. I really like Anthony Gordon and have done for a very long time, and he will be good enough soon, but you have to trust the manager on him. They aren't deliberately holding him back because they don't like young players. Gordon will be in the team for sure, by the end of the season, we just need to be patient.

Tony, my problem is that with the u23s, it's too late. All the best players are making their debuts at 18 or even younger. Just look at our own, Rooney, Barkley, Rodwell, Davies, Calvert-Lewin, etc. This means the u18s is the key age group. This is Paul Tait, not David Unsworth. What do our u18s do? Well they don't win trophies, that's for sure.

The criticism of Unsworth, is that we end up with a team of 20 somethings playing and winning because they are usually better than the opposition who have loaned out their comparable players or even got them in the first team.

One counter argument, though, is if we have 9 Harry Charsley's, 22 years of age, and two key youngsters, like 16 year old Tyler Onyango and 18 year old Ellis Simms, and the Charsley's are good quality and can provide a level for the key youngsters to develop, then this is better than making them play with poor players, as better players help their development. We don't need 11 u23 graduates, we need a couple. So we should focus on getting the best out of 2 or 3, and filling the gaps with better players to help the development of these players.

Rob Dolby
19 Posted 07/01/2020 at 20:03:59
I agree with Stan 1 and Mike 17.

I believe that the u23s are very competitive for that level. As a club we do seem to produce a lot of players who make a living out of the game in the lower leagues.

I also think that due to instability and lack of style from previous managers that Unsworth builds his team's to win at that level with an eye on the first team. Rather than being dictated to by the manager to encourage a certain style or tactics.

If we put Feeney or Gibson in the team have they been coached in playing silly beggars from the back?
I doubt it, not to the extent that we mismanage it.

Steve Ferns
20 Posted 07/01/2020 at 20:08:06
In essence, this is the worst group of u23s I can remember. Ok, I forget all the likes of Josh Bowler out on loan, but none of the loanees (except for Jonjo Kenny who is really a fringe first team player) are doing enough to force their way into first team contention, i.e. if they didn't player for us, we would not be looking to sign them.

The u18s is terrible, so much so, the bulk of the side is actually 16 going on 17. They're holding their own and sit 4th in the northern half of the league, and the youngsters promise much next season and beyond. But Gordon aside, and maybe Ellis Simms, there is no one in the academy system over the age of 17 who is going to make our first team.

Is that coaching, or just a bad crop? Well, if it's coaching, why have we suddenly got a rich crop of 16 year olds? A lot of it is down to luck, and this was epitomised by the wealth of talent we had when we operated out of a portacabin in Netherton in the early part of the century and yet somehow developed full England internationals.

John Pierce
21 Posted 07/01/2020 at 20:11:32
This is a really very valid point. The academy is there to produce players for the first team or sell them in for profit.

Do are u23s do that? I’d argue not. Winning the PL2 is nice but really hasn’t done anything for the club.

It’s another symptom of the health of the club. Add in a coach who needs to move away from age group coaching. He both takes too much of the spotlight from the lads and if we are being consistent hasn’t produced anything worthwhile for the first team, yet. Surely that’s not good enough?!

Time for Brands to remove Unsworth and do what he’s was brought in to do.

Steve Ferns
22 Posted 07/01/2020 at 20:15:04
John, the thing is we don't sell the players on for a profit. Not unless we go back to the days of Rooney. Our academy mostly lets the players go for cut price deals to help them get a club. We aren't like Liverpool selling our misfiring u23 striker for £25m to Bournemouth.

So the question is really, are they there to win trophies or produce players for the first team? And I think we'd all swap last years PL2 trophy for one of Chelsea's graduates.

Joe McMahon
23 Posted 07/01/2020 at 20:18:29
Sam @5 I fully agree, and yes Kenwright loves it, along with his "istory and Z Cars" At the end of the day the amazing Unsworth Silverware gets us nowwhere, and in the real world is worth Jack Shit. Our current league position and performance against Liverpools academy players kind of shows this.
Rob Dolby
24 Posted 07/01/2020 at 20:21:27
In an ideal world we would have a footballing identity where we could swap out coaches knowing that each age group was getting taught a philosophy. Similar to an Ajax.

In reality the first team battle for survival by any means. Martinez did try and influence the academy not sure Silva had chance to. Maybe Ancelotti will have more joy if he hangs around longer than 18 months.

Paul Tran
25 Posted 07/01/2020 at 20:23:49
It isn't about chucking kids in for the sake of it. The Utd crop of youngsters and Lpool's current lot, benefitted from a settled, winning club, with a strong work ethic, winning players & winning habits.

It makes me angry when I saw and still see, people having a go at DCL & Davies. Chucked into the team because the 'senior' players were hiding, playing all over the place unselfishly to mask other peoples' ineptitude.

What kind if a place is that to develop? Who do they learn from? What sort of environment is it for a young player? No wonder DCL looked so chuffed when he was talking about Ancelotti.

I'm glad Kenny is in Germany, getting games & growing up in another country while more shenanigans is going on here. He'll come back stronger, if he wants to.

I have no idea how good our young players are. I can confidently say we can do a lot more to make it easier for them to make it with us if they are.

Kristian Boyce
26 Posted 07/01/2020 at 20:33:26
Sam @5, fully agree with you on this and this again brings up the rumours of the disconnect between the U23's and the rest of the club. Unsworth runs them as a completely separate entity and it seems that his goal is to win the PL2, not develop players for the 1st team. I fully expect that he'll be gone at the end of the season with a dwindling Kenwright influence over the club. Brands will finally get to stamp his own mark on the youth of the club with a Dutch style philosophy focusing on preparing youth for the first team being the be all and end all.
Steve Ferns
27 Posted 07/01/2020 at 20:35:00
Rob, don't forget that Martinez had all but integrated the first and youth teams, making them train side by side, so the youngsters could look across to the first team and aspire to be there.

Then Koeman came in and evicted them and built a fence to stop them looking in on the first team. He had no interest in the youth team and the fence to keep the youth team out is a perfect symbol of his view of the academy.

Mike Oates
28 Posted 07/01/2020 at 21:17:37
After writing the original talking point and after reading all the replies I think the majority agree that the academy is just not delivering, either in getting players to the first team or generating players for to be sold for decent transfer fees.

I only know of Lundstram of Sheffield Utd playing top level football. The rest who have moved on are in the lower leagues at best.

We have to make radical changes at that level and somehow Brands I think needs to ensure a football philosophy runs through the whole club and the best of the talent get a look in at 1st team level at least.

Kenwright I believe, has to step back and let Brands get his own men in the key positions and not let sentiment get in the way.

Charlie Lloyd
29 Posted 07/01/2020 at 21:48:35
Sam @ 5

Massively respect your thoughts on here. However I reckon Unsworth did a decent job winning the title. More a case of “sum of the parts” I think. Not really outstanding players but together they have managed to overachieve. Let's not forget we had Sambou and Hornby up front. Decent workers but some way from EPL action.

I do get your point about playing some older lads though (Charsley) and maybe Unsworth did focus on the wins. He did well though as the players weren't likely to progress to the first team. I saw them enough times to see the lack of skill was counteracted by an abundance of effort which I believe came from something Unsworth instilled them with.

Charlie Lloyd
30 Posted 07/01/2020 at 21:52:56
Not to be too negative here as Steve Ferns alludes to we got some decent younger players emerging. Let’s see how they develop.

I do get the points too that Brands should be instructing how the U23s develop. That’s his job. The recruitment at schoolboy level needs to improve though as the lads who are currently at U23 level recently haven’t been good enough to progress to the first team.

Don Alexander
31 Posted 07/01/2020 at 22:20:02
In my opinion we have an academy unable to produce first team players of any significance for years, and a scouting system that for years has been unable/unwilling to even sign Everton supporting lads who instead went to the other side and made their name.

Coaches appointed without any qualifications at all, and coaches who've never in years sought to advance their careers anywhere else than at a very very comfortable FF are not what winning clubs do. Only a club with a selfish delusional shyster as chairman does that.

John Pierce
32 Posted 07/01/2020 at 22:31:10
Steve, you are correct, but it should part of the academy.

We should be buying players for buttons and if they don’t make it sell them on for more, it helps the player trading profits. The margins are much higher at that level. Chelsea appear to be the best example of high churn making money on relatively mediocre players who don’t make the first team.

One of the reasons no one wants to buy our youngsters is partly we aren’t very good at scouting them, making them better and as a result we don’t have a pedigree for championship and lower premier league sides to buy our cast offs.

I might not be spot on with my opinions but the reality is Academy is not producing.

Kevin Prytherch
33 Posted 07/01/2020 at 22:39:00
Mike - players at a top level club currently

Barkley - Chelsea
Lundstrom - Sheff Utd
Duffy - Brighton
Kenny - Germany
Rodwell - Sheff Utd (but has only just signed).

Then There’s obviously Davies with us and whether you count DCL and Holgate or not.

We’ve also had Mustafi and Dier with us for periods of time.

We still have Forshaw, Rooney, Pennington, Williams, Robinson, Dowell, and Danny Fox (who?) plying their trade in the championship.

Then there’s the likes of Connolly, Ledson and Mcaleny slightly lower down.

I do agree however, that we don’t get good value for most of them when they’re moved on.

Tony Abrahams
34 Posted 07/01/2020 at 22:50:27
How good are the under 16’s Steve? I remember talking to Martin Waldron, who was sacked by Everton, for tapping up players, and although they were only under 11’s at this stage, he told me he was very excited by this group, and he expected them to be the best team the club had produced in all his time at Everton.

I was talking to someone from another club, who had watched them recently, and was very surprised when they told me they were just alright, with my first thought being that maybe some of them have already started games for the under 18’s.

I’ve always thought it’s about coaching, some teams over-coach, some don’t look like they do enough of it on a personal level, which is the only way I believe you can really get through to kids?

Winning is important, I’m aware of that, but it’s not the be-all and end-all, educating these young kids in self awareness, education in finding different solutions, and helping these kids realise they can be as good as they want to be, are much more important aspects that people with talent should be getting taught every single day?

Darren Hind
35 Posted 08/01/2020 at 02:50:43
Some truly mind blowing comments on here. Particularly about Unsworth and youth team coaches.
I sometimes shake my head in disbelief when I read people criticising these men for not turning water into wine. Only jesus can do that.

Those people criticising the junior coaches do realise you need the raw material to produce top players ?..Dont you ?. You do realise you can improve a player, coach him to do all the right things, but you cant instill a natural talent ?

Unsworth has done a staggering job. against superior youngsters who have naturally gravitated to the top teams. He has taught his players the value of organisation. team work, The will to win. His department has been the only department to represent this club with a winning mentality since forever. . . and for that he should be given his marching orders ? Truly, truly, staggering logic.

Breaking news... The top clubs are aware of all the top talent from a very early age. We are, at best, sixth in the pecking order when it comes to attracting the best natural talent. Do you people not think this is were the focus should lie ?
Brands or walsh's job doesnt/didnt start when these players become grown men. They should be winning the battle to sign the superior talent still at school. If Brands or his team cant do that. They are the ones who should be given the last card in the pack. Not the junior coaches they are letting down.
Not one player has been allowed to leave our academy and flourish at another top club. Its not just our junior coaches who havent been able to turn youngster who "haven't quite got it" into international superstars. Nobody can.

Do we have an academy and is it working ? Is that even a serious question ?

The only players who have increased in value are the ones we captured as schoolboys or signed in their late teens. Davies, DCL Holgate and Gordon would fetch around eighty million quid in todays market. The academy is paying for itself. several times over. It always has done
the sale of the likes of Rooney and Rodwell, Ball and Jeffers have all helped save the club at a time when we were in danger of going under.

The club have spent about 600m on players who have only succeeded in blocking the path of junior players being given a chance. Every clueless manager who comes in goes for the experienced...err superstar. Ancelotti fell into the same trap on Sunday.

A mind boggling thread. The club has only had one man who has been able to instill a winning mentality AT ANY LEVEL and we have fans who think the solution is to get rid of him. The 600m quids worth of not-good-enough isn't the problem its the department that cost us a pittance to run.

The house is burning down, but Hey. Lets train the hose pipe onto the garden shed.

Danny Broderick
36 Posted 08/01/2020 at 03:50:42
I’d argue our academy has done a better job than practically every other academy since the Premier League was created. The academy has kept the club going at times. Without the money generated from Jeffers, Ball, Rooney etc, God knows what would have happened to us.

Our academy has produced Premier League players every few years. That is unbelievable. I wish the rest of the club was performing as well as the Academy.

Tony Abrahams
37 Posted 08/01/2020 at 07:32:09
Can’t instil a natural talent, is one of the biggest problems to coaching in this country Darren. Agree with that mate, but the problem I’ve seen over the years is poor coaching suppressing a natural talent.

That’s nothing to do with Unsworth, that’s just my opinion on the structure of English football or the way it was when I was growing up. Hopefully it’s changed, but I’m not sure if it’s changed enough yet though, because methodical footballers is what English coaches have mainly produced over the years?

Would Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta have became the players they become if they had grown up in England? Highly unlikely but maybe it’s because of the nature of the game in this country, but I’m sure it’s possible to create a similar thing to what Barcelona have created, it just takes time, effort and a belief that it really can be done, but maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m just a dreamer.

Peter Gorman
38 Posted 08/01/2020 at 08:19:34
I can't really top Darren's analogy about the shed - he is absolutely correct of course.

The academy has always paid for itself many times over - they are still dining out on the Anichebe money, let alone making inroads into the sale of Barkley. To question it's point on financial grounds is just plain ill-informed.

Is it failing at the remit of 'producing players for the first team' - absolutely. But that isn't the fault of the academy, or Unsworth for that matter. The blame lies with the first team.

To name but two recent graduates who were MoM on their first team debuts; Tom Davies and Beni Baningime. So, how did these no-good youngsters manage that? Because as products of a title-winning team, the U23 coaches have instilled winning into them.

The only ones at the club who haven't the first idea what a winning mentality looks like would be the seniors. Imagine being a kid in that dressing room? God help you.

Sam Hoare
39 Posted 08/01/2020 at 10:16:52
Darren@35' I'm afraid I can't agree that Unsworth has done anything near a staggering job.

A staggering job would mean producing a conveyor belt of talent ready for the first team (a pretty low bar) or able to be sold for good money. He has not done either for the last 3 years.

I do agree that there is only so much a coach can do and that identifying talent is a part of that process but he has also been responsible for bringing in players for the academy so bears at least some responsibility in that area. Also the idea that money and size of club always equates to the best quality and output is not true; the likes of Fulham, Derby and Southtampton have very good academies that churn out decent players; abroad clubs like Athletic Bilbao and PSV find consistent streams of talent.

I'm not saying that Unsworth has done a terrible job. He's certainly not a terrible coach, far from it. But he has not helped the cause greatly by seemingly concentrating on results over player development. The blame certainly does not lie at just his feet and you are right there are bigger problems but the approach of the academy, the lack of unified style and the lack of end product are issues that must be addressed. Less of a garden shed than a kitchen annex.

Peter Gorman
40 Posted 08/01/2020 at 23:54:38
"But he has not helped the cause greatly by seemingly concentrating on results over player development."

Be careful what you wish for. Unsworth makes a point of instilling a competitive element into all aspects of his training in order to try and nurture a winning mentality into the youngsters. Nowt wrong with that as far as I can tell, especially when we are so frequently presented with the polar opposite from the likes of Sigurdsson and Schneiderlin; technically gifted players who wilt at the first hint of pressure. How's that working out again.

Steve Ferns
41 Posted 09/01/2020 at 01:26:40
Marcus Rashford is no Wayne Rooney. He is not a brilliant player, but a very good player who is now starting to show the level he is likely to reach at the age of 22. Just how good he could be is irrelevant for this discussion.

Rashford is someone who starred at the various youth levels for Man Utd and particularly as a 17 year old in the u18s. Then he basically skipped the u23s and went into the first team squad.

To be precise, he played just 8 times in the Premier League 2 (u23 league) and he scored just once in 8 games. These came the season he was 17/18 and made the step up to the Premier League and played 11 times scoring 5 times.

The point is that this level of player, the type Everton hope to produce every season, does not play in the Premier League 2. Just a handful of appearances as the player tries to break into the first team squad. Our own Anthony Gordon is following a similar trajectory, spending around a season (half of last season and half of this) in the u23s before making the first team. Last season Gordon scored once in 14 games, as he bounced between u18s and u23s as a 17 year old. This season, and now 18, he has played 9 games and scored 6 goals. He's clearly too good for that level.

The whole of the PL2 needs to be looked at. It's not the finishing school it is hoped for but more a graveyard for players who will never make it.

David Unsworth himself, is a big proponent on the loan market. He also wishes to adopt the continental model of a "B team" within the League system, meaning that we did not have to loan players out and instead could have our own Championship side to give our best players to and coach them in the right manner. Whilst that would be great for Everton and most Premier League clubs, and probably great for England's national side, it would be the death of lower league football.

I argue against the loans of Virginia and Adedoyin above. Simply because I feel both are too young. 17-18 year old outfield players should spend a season in the u23s. 18-20 year old keepers should stay there until they are mentally ready for big crowds. But anyone over the age of 20 who is not yet playing for the first team is going to find it is too late for them, and the only way to get back on track is with a good loan.

So, Unsworth's u23s are not a barometer of Everton's Academy quality. Players should barely spend any time with Unsworth. It's Paul Tait's under 18s that are key. And Everton's u18s have not won the Youth Cup since Tony Hibbert in the 1990s or the League since 2011.

Here is our league placings, note this is a Northern Premier League:
2018/19 3rd P22 W14 D2 L6 GD+31 pts44
2017/18 5th P22 W11 D4 L7 GD+10 PTS37

Previously it was in some weird format and we were:
2016/17 5th P22 W11 D6 L5 GD+14 PTS39
We then qualified for a 2nd group and came bottom:
2016/17 8th P7 W1 D1 L5 GD-10 PTS4
And this was behind powerhouses like Villa, Spurs, Norwich, Derby, Fulham, Stoke and Middlesbrough and forgetting the big boys in the top group.

If you look back to the 2011 side that won their group and then the play offs, beating villa and then Fulham, the names you might recognise are: Tyias Browning (or Jiang Guangtai as he is now known in China!), Luke Garbutt, Jake Bidwell, Eric Dier, Conor McAleny, Anton Forrester, George Waring (relative of the legendary Pongo Waring) and Tom Molyneux.

This is the level you guys need to focus on, because if the u18s are not good enough, and they usually aren't, then there's nothing Unsworth can do. The thing is though, that whilst the current group of u18s are erratic, winning games 10-0 and 7-3, yet losing 6-1 (Liverpool) and 5-1 (Stoke), this does not tell the full story. After Simms, Gordon and Adedoyin graduated from the u18s it was feared that this group would really struggle. The 17 and 18 year olds are lacking, especially after Harry Tyrer and Einar Iversen also moved up to u23 level. What we did not expect is that the 16 year olds would come through so fast. The likes of Lewis Dobbin have been brilliant in attack, with another two years of eligibility at this level, you expect big things next season. If these lads can carry on working hard, and those big defeats should help keep their feet on the ground, then they could be everything everyone commenting above is waiting for.

Dick Fearon
42 Posted 16/01/2020 at 10:27:12
Mike, I was asking similar questions about very much earlier (The sixties) supposedly brilliant Reserve sides that never saw first team action.

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