Everton Under-23s finish 8th in PL2

Friday, 7 August, 2020 15comments  |  Jump to last
Despite sitting in 7th place when the Premier League 2 season ended prematurely in March, David Unsworth's Everton Under-23s have been moved down to a confirmed 8th-place finish based on points-per-game.

Chelsea Under-23s were crowned Champions of PL2, with Manchester City the U-18 Premier League (North) Champions. As the North-South playoff was not possible, Man City U-18s have been declared the National Champions based on points-per-game.

The season was one of 'transition' with Unsworth seeing a heavy turnover of the younger players he had used so successfully the previous season to win the league and cup double, while ensuring an unprecedented stream of younger talent brought through or acquired by the club was made ready for training with the first team (Branthwaite, Gordon, Simms).

Revised decisions on promotion and relegation between Divisions One and Two of PL2 has resulted in restructuring, with both Man Utd and West Ham Utd being promoted because they were unable to have any playoffs, but only Wolves being relegated. As a result, 13 teams will now compete for the PL2 title next season.

A 3rd-place finish for the Under-18s has also been confirmed in the U-18 Premier League (North) under the same points-per-game system put in place to provide closure after the disruption caused by coronavirus and the Covid-19 pandemic.


Reader Comments (15)

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Michael Kenrick
1 Posted 08/08/2020 at 23:29:12
One of the U23 players who might impress in midfield this coming season is Mackensie Hunt. The club gave him a 3-year contract last summer but he hardly played more than a handful of games last season.

Turns out he's another one – this seems to happen to so many – who suffered a serious injury that has knocked him back. Seems it was ankle ligaments, which needed an operation and no doubt a long layoff. There was very little mention of him in match reports other than his debut at U23 level back in October.

Anyone with info on how fit and ready he is now for the new season?

Phill Thompson
2 Posted 09/08/2020 at 19:14:09
Michael, I believe Hunt is one of those currently training at Finch Farm with the U23s; we'll likely get some pics/video this week that may confirm it.

There'll be tough competition in midfield this season with Carroll coming back from injury too, Baningime, Adeniran, Iversen ahead of them both age-wise and Onyango, Quirk and Hughes coming through last season.

Michael Kenrick
3 Posted 11/08/2020 at 17:29:10
Yes, thanks Phill.

I was just writing up some notes on Rhys Hughes, who is obviously highly rated within the club, so as you say, competition for places in the U23 squad is going to be hot, especially in midfield.

By my count, Unsworth will have around 26 or 27 players in his squad, despite the departees – just shows you how incredibly bloated we had become in terms of excess playing staff – hence all the loans out.

And that's not counting any players graduating from the Under-18s. Based on this talk of "lowering the average age of the squad", there should be another half-dozen moving up this coming season.

I note the academy players all went back to training early – this must mean their PL2 and U-18 PL seasons kick-off before 12 September???

Brent Stephens
4 Posted 11/08/2020 at 17:45:17
Interesting news about Hunt, Phill. And next season could be really interesting in terms of the young players coming through.

Given the small numbers attending U23 games, I hope we’ll be allowed into the ground(s) next season.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
5 Posted 11/08/2020 at 18:26:40
27 players listed on here in the senior squad and 26 in the U23s with Markelo already out on loan.

Yes, 4 of the first team squad and 2 from the U23s almost certain out on loan. But that still leaves 47 players. I hope that Marcel is working hard to find not only the 4 midfielders we need but places to send at least 10 more of the 47 out on loan. But it also needs to be more ruthless. There is only 12 of the U23s who have a contract beyond this time next year – so half are either, shape or ship out.

We can never be so hard and fast, but really, unless a 20-year-old is say doing well in League One or League Two and a 22-year-old is doing well in the Championship, then we know they are never going to make it and so we should cut our losses.

Pennington will be nearly 27 by the time his contract is finished. Garbutt was 28. Connolly will be almost 24. There needs to be more – he is very likely not to make it, let us see if we can sell him now.

The U23s are there for two reasons. To find players for the first team or players to be developed and sold to help fund players for the first team.

Phill Thompson
6 Posted 12/08/2020 at 10:16:55
Our core U23s squad is only about 18 players if you count last season's regulars and those moving up but exclude those on loan last season.

Goalkeeper: Tyrer, Hansen (Virginia loan or 1st team squad)
Defence: John, Astley, Branthwaite, Ouzounidis, Jon Anderson, Nkounkou.
Midfield: Iversen, Onyango, Adeniran, Baningime, Hughes, Carroll, Quirk, Hunt.
Attack: Dobbin, Simms.

I believe Dobbin and Onyango are now attached to the U23s, though they may still play U18. Adeniran and Baningime may be earmarked for loans or even moving on. The likes of Bowler, Broadhead, Connolly are unlikely to be around after October, Gibson maybe loan or 1st team.

So, once it settles down, we could have a small, very young squad with hopefully some of the U18s like Cannon, Warrington, Higgins, McAllister pushing for a place. It'll be interesting to see how it develops.

Michael Kenrick
7 Posted 12/08/2020 at 17:52:05
Phill, I think you're right in one respect: Unsworth tends to stick to a moderate-sized subset of the players he has available forming the core that is repeatedly selected, with a significant portion of the full squad getting very few games. But I would still add some names to your categories:

Goalkeeper: Tyrer, Hansen, Barrett, McIntyre, Leban
Defence: John, Astley, Branthwaite, Ouzounidis, Joe Anderson, Nkounkou, Hosie
Midfield: Iversen, Onyango, Adeniran, Baningime, Hughes, Carroll, Quirk, Hunt, Hagan.
Attack: Dobbin, Simms, Jon Anderson, Garcia.

This would be in addition to the names you already mentioned: Cannon, Warrington, Higgins, McAllister, giving us a total of at least 28. But yes, at least half-a-dozen of these will probably be sent out on loan.

Phill Thompson
8 Posted 12/08/2020 at 19:14:55
Michael, yes indeed there will be some more added to my “core” squad. I got my Andersons mixed up I thought I'd written Joe Anderson as the defender, Jon Anderson has been released along with Josh Hosie.

Rafael Garcia is a good call, he's a big unknown to me due to injuries and we kept quite low profile when we got him from Fulham. He got some good reviews for England U15/16 a few years back but it's been quiet on him of late.

Robert Tressell
9 Posted 12/08/2020 at 20:00:30
We need to move Adeniran and Baningime out now surely. Neither got close to the first team when we were crying out for youth and energy in midfield. No point them clogging up the U23s.

It's time to move them on before they become the next Pennington or Connolly. But really interesting to see how the likes of Quirk, Hunt etc all develop.

Michael Kenrick
10 Posted 12/08/2020 at 20:23:47
Good job you're on the ball, Phill. I totally missed Hosie and Jon Anderson being released. Any others I'm missing, I wonder??? Jack Barrett apparently... I've 'corrected' my earlier post! Thanks!
Phill Thompson
11 Posted 12/08/2020 at 20:35:04
It's a difficult choice. Beni was set to go on loan last August but it didn't happen, so it would be hard to deny him another loan or not sell him. Adeniran also needs a loan. But without them both our best 11 would likely be 2 x 17-year-olds, 5 x 18-year-olds, 4 x 19-year-olds, so average age just over 18, very young.

It'll tell us quickly who the leaders are, but sometimes youngsters need experienced players to make them tick as a team, rather than just a bunch of talented individuals. Adeniran if he doesn't move out would make a good, experienced captain.

Maybe we wait until January to loan him out after the team has settled. I'd say Simms too could do with a January loan. The positive thing though is that we've reduced the average age dramatically.

Kevin Prytherch
12 Posted 12/08/2020 at 22:01:30
Seems the most relevant thread to put this on...

Just watched the best academy goals from all age groups on the Everton website. The U18 one, I counted 24 passes before they finally scored. It would put the first team to shame.

Sam Hoare
13 Posted 13/08/2020 at 07:36:24
It looks like the best young crop we've had in a while. Especially looking forward to seeing how Onyango, Dobbin and Nkounkou do.

Branthwaite I think showed enough last season to suggest he'd be better served having a loan to a mid-table Championship side who play it out from the back (maybe Derby?). If he could get 20+ starts next season, it would do his development wonders.

Robert Tressell
14 Posted 13/08/2020 at 07:59:56
Phill – it is a really young squad but Unsworth is good at building a team and getting players to know their roles. It's a good step up for these teenagers. I see what you mean about Adeniran and Baningime. But teenagers from South America and Africa are travelling thousands of miles from home at their age and having to grow up fast and take responsibility. Playing our young lads is a chance for them to take responsibility.
Phill Thompson
16 Posted 13/08/2020 at 10:25:28
Kevin #12,

Yeah, the U18 goal was a great team goal, with a few involved mentioned here already – Bobby Carroll scoring from a Seb Quirk cross, Ryan Astley playing the ball out from centre-back a few times, Onyango a few involvements, and the wee kid with the long hair buzzing about in midfield is Lewis Warrington.

The U16 goal is a cracker too, a deliberately placed free-kick from about 30 yards. The picture is not great but, if it's who I believe it is, he'll be someone to watch out for in the U18s this season.

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