USM Finch Farm

by   |   09/09/2019  26 Comments  [Jump to last]

Looking back at the last England youth campaigns when by memory we had 4 players in the U20s and 4 players in the U18s who were more than successful, I see a lot of the players in those squads are playing in good sides and becoming good players.

By contrast, Our players from USM Finch Farm — once they get to U23 level, and just before they get to, or should be breaking into, the senior team, seem to go backwards.

We get promising players from overseas who seem to lose the talent they had once they hit our youth academy. I know people will say "But the U23s have won two of the last three Premier League 2 titles!" — but my point is: maybe that's just raw talent that has done this.

Now I am not saying David Unsworth is useless, he obviously has some coaching ability, but does he and the rest of the staff have the technical ability to take the players to the next level and keep improving them beyond that?

I have been an Everton fan for 40 years now but unfortunately live in Australia so the only news I get is from this great website and the official site. For the last 3 or 4 years, I have been alarmed at how many youth internationals we have had that their development goes backwards... maybe we should send all our promising youngster to German clubs!

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Clive Rogers
1 Posted 10/09/2019 at 09:53:38
Having watched a few U23 games in the last 3 seasons, I have realised how vast the gulf is to the Premier League. Personally I doubt whether it is the coaching that is at fault. More likely it is the quality and potential of the players in the first instance.

In recent years, the trend has been to buy in top youngsters from other clubs to raise the standard, such as Lookman. The two players promoted o the first-team squad this season, Gibson and Gordon were both bought in. This indicates that our local recruitment standard is not good enough.

Derek Thomas
2 Posted 10/09/2019 at 10:09:35
It's not a new thing and articles like yours pop up regularly. When they do, I dig out my box of old programmes from the 60s pick one at random and look at the A & B teams – the nearest equivalent –and look for names I remember; I don't see very many that ring a bell.

It's a big step up is the short version and not many make it.

You, anybody, give me a month and year from 62 to 72 and I'll post what I find.

Stephen Davies
3 Posted 10/09/2019 at 10:16:11

Why is living in Australia unfortunate?

Too hot? 🤔

Phillip Warrington
4 Posted 10/09/2019 at 14:40:45
Hi Stephen 3#,

Na, the weather's perfect, but over here Everton do not receive any media coverage and being a mad Everton supporter whose week revolves around waiting then watching Everton playing via a streaming link.

Every morning, the first thing I do when wake up is turn on the computer check this site and the official site just to see if there is any news about Everton, that 's why it is unfortunate you guys get to live and breathe what it's like to be Evertonians.

Jerome Shields
5 Posted 10/09/2019 at 16:38:41
What's the point of a Youth academy if it does not produce players, who one day will be part of the senior squad or be of increased value? Why not do away with it altogether and save a load of money?

What's the use of having them coached by people who can't put pressure on the senior coaching squad ?

Seems like a great long term job, where you are not expected to achieve and get well paid for it.

Alan J Thompson
6 Posted 10/09/2019 at 17:44:02
Derek (#2); I don't know about a date but do the names Wright, Hurst, Labone, Harvey, Royle, Husband ring any bells?I do wonder though why when having won two successive PL2 titles and having had numerous players selected for international representation at their age levels, that we haven't seen more than Davies and possibly Kenny playing in the 1st XI. Could it be that they are well coached to fit a system rather than develop individual skills.
Dave Abrahams
7 Posted 10/09/2019 at 17:50:57
Clive (1), I thought Anthony Gordon had come through the Acadamy at Finch Farm.
Tony Everan
8 Posted 10/09/2019 at 18:09:38
There is so much pressure to perform in the first team when they are promoted to it.

There is no breathing space or time for acclimatising. The kids will be competing with top pros in their prime, mid / late twenties, the best Europe and South America can offer.

It is some task to break in and dislodge such players. Then there is the tendency to play players who have been signed for £20-30M to try and maintain some sell on value. The odds are stacked against the kids.

In short, an U23s player has to be the best of the best to break in, and may need a bit of luck in doing so because of an injury to the senior.

The U23s are nevertheless important, there is always a chance a diamond is uncovered. When it happens, for me, it is one of the best things about football. One of our own kids making the elite grade.

Jay Wood

9 Posted 10/09/2019 at 18:15:38
I'm sure you're right about Anthony Gordon being one of our own, Dave.

Did you read what Fabian Delph said about Gordon the other day? It was the only player he referenced about his time at Everton and his role as a senior player at the club. Delph said:

"If someone has their head in the right place and wants to learn and I can give them some advice, I will.

"Gords's head is in the right place, he is a very talented guy and I love talking to him.

"Any information I can pass on is a blessing for me."

Sounds good to me. Gordon played well pre-season and is on fire with the U-23s to date. AND still only 18, remember.

Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 10/09/2019 at 18:53:06
Jay (9), No I hadn’t read what Delph had said about Gordon, nice to hear though, kids always need encouragement, and to get it from a seasoned professional must have sounded great to Anthony.

I’ve had my doubts about this young player, not his ability but whether he could mix it with the rough stuff, but apparently Gordon has started to give as good as he gets, which will benefit him and Everton FC.

Jay Wood

11 Posted 10/09/2019 at 19:16:08
While on a 'feel good' factor about our young 'uns Dave, have you seen what JJK's current manager, David Wagner at Schalke, says about him?


Absolutely glowing report, adding how he has already become a big favourite of the Schalke fans.

Dave Abrahams
12 Posted 10/09/2019 at 20:21:27
Jay (11), thanks for the link Jay, I saw Jonjoe’s goal last week, very good, made up to see him doing well in Germany, hope he keeps it up.

Playing abroad will help Kenny grow up, although by all accounts he is no mug, knows how to look after himself, he had a problem with a senior player at Everton, Allardyce was on to it right away during a practice game, told them to sort it out. Jonjoe told the older player where to go when he wanted to talk it out.

Andy Crooks
14 Posted 10/09/2019 at 20:32:39
Good stuff Jay and Dave. I really like Jonjoe Kenny. Interesting thoughts on young players. My dad and I were big admirers of the NI Milk Cup. Francis Jeffers was the best young player I have ever seen.
Tony Abrahams
15 Posted 10/09/2019 at 21:11:38
Jeffers left Everton way too early, Andy, and I honestly don't think I've seen a young forward with better movement than what this kid had.

I loved watching Franny play and remember talking to Tony Grant about Rooney – although he hadn't seen Wayne play, he told me that he wouldn't be as good as his mate Jeffers.

I got what Granty was saying because Jeffers must have been a midfielder's dream but, like Rooney, they both left too early... although I'm sure the money Everton received for both of these young scouse kids definitely kept the wolves from the door for Chairman Bill and makes a mockery of suggestions of doing away with a youth academy.

Bill Watson
16 Posted 10/09/2019 at 22:20:21
Jeffers was one of the best prospects I'd seen and reminded me a lot of the pre injury Jimmy Husband. Unfortunately, Jeffers got ahead of himself, made a disastrous move to Arsenal and then got injured.

Quite often young players look great at U18/U23 level but fail to step up. Perhaps Dowell is one such; Derby must be his last chance.

Sometimes the reverse is true and someone comes up on the rails like Tom Davies, who I don't think was ever marked down as a future Premier League player.

It must be difficult to isolate the actual cost of the Academy but, on the plus side, we get some transfer and loan fees which must offset the cost.

Tony Abrahams
17 Posted 10/09/2019 at 22:45:23
I heard it was about £4.5 Million a year to run, Bill, around the same time I heard the Tranmere Rovers' budget for the whole club was £900,000, so no wonder Tranmere fell out the league, and then had to do away with their own academy, the same one which helped get Tom Davies on the road... Football, like life, ain't straight!
Bobby Thomas
18 Posted 10/09/2019 at 23:28:59
Tony #15,

I don't think it,s over the top to say that the club would have folded without the fees received for Jeffers, Richard Dunne and Michael Ball.

Steve Ferns
19 Posted 10/09/2019 at 23:31:57
Jeffers's career took a nose dive when he got a knee injury before he went to Arsenal. He lost all trajectory after that for me and never reached his early promise.

Anthony Gordon is most definitely not bought in. He's a local lad born in Liverpool. I've looked out for him for a few years now. The kid is a bit special and, after injury slowed his progress, it's great to see he's flying again.

Derek Thomas
20 Posted 11/09/2019 at 01:59:10
Alan J @6; No mate, never heard of them, but if you add Whittle then that's 7 over a 10-year period. The golden decade exception that proves the rule. The rest of the time, if you get 1 every 4 or 5 seasons, you're doing well.

I would say the Acadamy breaks even or maybe even makes a profit in terms of money invested. But in terms of players like Harvey, Royle, Husband etc... I think we expect a Rooney every other season and get upset when, despite all evidence to the contrary, we don't get one.

Over the last 25 years, only 5 (?) have consistently played in the upper reaches of the Premier League: Unsworth, Hibbert, Osman, Rooney and Barkley.

My point is we expect too much from the Acadamy, but we have to have it just in case.

I think the new powers that be (Brands) will be happy if the Acadamy makes money selling players at a few million a pop to Championship teams, while they wait for the next Rooney Roulette ball to land on our number.

Eric Myles
21 Posted 11/09/2019 at 07:02:59
Bobby #18, we're still owed money for Michael Ball.
Alan J Thompson
22 Posted 11/09/2019 at 08:32:20
Derek (#20); it's been said before but when the Academy was closed under Kendall, later re-opened under Joe Royle, we lost a few "Evertonians" across the park. Imagine Rooney, Davies, Kenny etc in their colours.

If "Our kid" had not been sold, then I doubt anyone would be questioning having an Academy but it may also highlight the need to look at the management rather than the product.

Dave Williams
23 Posted 11/09/2019 at 10:49:07
I think attitude is very important. These are young lads who have still to mature into adults. They have status in the locality, a lot of money to spend, girls queuing up for them, drink and drugs on offer and a load of hangers on seeking to flatter their ego in order to share in their limelight.

Only a few will have the attitude required to resist that little lot and fulfil their potential. As Dave says above Jonjoe Kenny seems to have it and I think he will return to become our first choice right-back for years to come. Dowell appears to have the skills but so far has failed to convince a number of managers that he has the application or balls to display them on a consistent basis.

Dave Williams
24 Posted 11/09/2019 at 11:13:53
Sorry, had to break off to shower the dog who has just returned from being boarded at a friends farm whilst we were on hols — the smell, oh my god!!!

Back to where I was: Rooney had attitude, Osman had it, going back a bit, Royle, Harvey and Wright has it. Husband didn't and was never the same after McKay did him, Whittle was distracted, I believe, he could have become an Everton great! Billy Wright (the centre-back) was another whose attitude was wrong and we all recall his namesake who had the talent to go all the way.

More recently the sad tale of the very talented George Green. We can all list them and the ones who do make it generally have something in their personality which takes them above the rest. Jonjoe Kenny seems to have this and a season in Germany will usually sort out those who will and those who won't.

Tempting though it is, I wouldn't blame the coaching; this is about life, maturity and attitude and only so much can be taught. The rest is down to their families and their upbringing.

Steve Ferns
25 Posted 11/09/2019 at 11:38:46
To go back to the article itself, I believe the OP fails to understand the concept of Academy football.

The U23 side is made up of the best young talent, usually aged 19-22, that is not good enough for the first team. So how many players past 19 play regular Academy football and then make it in the Premier League? Look at the England side last night and see how many of them were first team players at 18, be it with their parent clubs or on loan.

The U23 side is really a holding area for players who were considered prospects but came up just short to see if there's some magical late development or to give them the chance of football before they move on to a lower league club.

It also fleshes out sides with higher quality players. By having the likes of the talented 21-year-old Antony Evans in our side we have high quality players (for the level) that the real prospects like Anthony Gordon can play with, and so raise their games. If Gordon is going to make it, then he either steps up to our team this season (he's 19 in February), or if he's not good enough he goes out on loan to see if he can cut it in the Championship and develop there.

19- to 23-year-olds can't really be coached to become much better, they have their football basics complete and now need experience. That experience best comes from professional football than academy football.

The real youth side to watch for Everton is the U18s, not the U23s. This is where you see the exciting young players who can step up. At this level Everton have been short. We have not had much success in recent years. So how do we then surpass our rivals to win the league at U23 level? It's either superior coaching at U23 level, or more likely the fact that the clubs who can beat us at U18 level lose their players at U23 level to loans and so what we have left is better than what they have left.

People are far too insular when it comes to Everton. You guys don't look elsewhere too. If you look at the raw numbers, since the start of the century, Everton have produced more England internationals than any other side. We produce talent. And unlike other clubs like Southampton, most of our talent has come from within 25 miles of Goodison. These indicators show our coaching is good enough. Despite all the crap people spout on here about ex-players.

The issue we have in the UK is how do you get a talented young player to go from U18 to first team football. Phil Foden of Man City is said to be a considerable talent and that is clear. Yet Pepe Guardiola has struggled to find a place for him.

Managers are under immense pressure. Marco Silva could lose the next four games and we'd all be livid and calling for his head. So, can he really take a long term view? He could look quite realistically and say, I am most likely not going to be at Everton for 5 years and so by the time that Anthony Gordon is good enough, I won't be here, so what do I care about him? This is otherwise known as the Mourinho approach!

With managers having a short term and tunnel vision of the first team, looking only as far ahead as the next game, it's impossible to develop the young talent.

I have often said that with your lower level Premier League players, ie the ones good enough to play week in, week out, but at the bottom end of the talent pool, do they really need to be foreign? Look at the bottom 6 clubs and they are full of foreign players who are all mediocre at best. 20 years ago these were all British players. The Championship also has more foreign players. Are these guys really better than our own? Well, yes, they are. But if you gave the likes of Antony Evans then chance to get top level experience, would he not be better than half of these foreign journeymen? I think so.

There is no solution to the issue. If there was, then we'd have sorted it years ago. The likes of Gordon need a place in the first team, if not, they become the likes of Evans where time runs out for them and ultimately they can end up like John Lundstram, a talented young lad released by us who has fought his way to the Premier League with Sheffield Utd and is now 25. He makes my point for me. He's clearly good enough to play Premier League football, but needed games.

I know some say the cream always rises to the top, but I disagree. These lads' careers are fragile and can be wrecked by bad management. I do believe that a lad who has a bit of luck can have a top class career, but the same lad with bad luck and bad management can end up in League Two, there is a thin line between success and failure.

Kevin Prytherch
26 Posted 11/09/2019 at 12:47:23
Steve 25 – one of the most sensible bits of reading concerning our U23s for a long time. There are obviously notable exceptions:

Kane wasn't a Spurs regular until he was 21 or 22;

Lingaard was about 24 when he finally became a regular;

Maguire developed late; however, most centre-backs do (a lesson for those still dismissing Holgate).

We do produce quality and a lot should be good enough for the Championship or lower Premier League at least if given the chance. The problem is, managers in the lower leagues have even less job security than the Premier L:eague.

Cuco Martina summed it up perfectly – there was no point spending £30k a week on a back-up right-back when we had one in the U23s. It's these types of transfers that irritate me.

Clive Rogers
27 Posted 12/09/2019 at 11:13:04
Dave, 7, you are right, sorry. I was thinking of Bowler.

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