Mid-season report on Everton's Under-18s

Tuesday, 5 January, 2021 28comments  |  Jump to last
Everton Under-18s don't return to action after their extended Christmas break until Saturday 16 January. In a column for evertonfc.com, manager Paul Tait discusses his side's progress so far this season as they sit 6th in the U18 Premier League (North Division) table, and he looks ahead to what 2021 has in store…

» Read the full article at Everton FC

Reader Comments (28)

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Phill Thompson
1 Posted 05/01/2021 at 13:16:35
Well that was a pretty bland read for a mid season report, with just mention of 2nd years Sean McAllister, Tom Cannon, Lewis Warrington and Lewis Dobbin and McAllister the only one getting specific praise.

While it’s unfair to put too much pressure on 17 year old kids it would have been nice to see a proper assessment as all four featured at u18 last season. Who’s kicked on? Has Dobbin actually stalled a wee bit given we have high expectations of him ?

What about the first years? Thierry Small and Katia Kouyate are the obvious standouts having got much attention and played at U23s. Others like Reece Welch, Luke Butterfield, Isaac Price, Charlie Whittaker, Eli Campbell have become established in the squad, all playing regularly. It’s a shame really, we get so little info that it seems like an opportunity wasted to get an insight into what Tait actually thinks.

Dave Abrahams
2 Posted 05/01/2021 at 16:28:47
I can’t even get the report, just the discuss part, nothing surprises me about the lack of news coming from Everton FC on the younger teams and players, unless they are doing something for EITC.like sleeping out, then there are reams of reports on events like that.
Dave Abrahams
3 Posted 05/01/2021 at 17:04:02
I finally got the report on the club site, he uses hundreds of words and says next to nothing, I hope they do a lot better in the FA youth cup than they’ve done in the last few years. I think a lot needs changing in this department, maybe starting with the manager and some of his coaches, going by his half yearly report it must be boring to be coached by them.
Tony Abrahams
4 Posted 05/01/2021 at 17:22:57
It’s a funny game football Phill, because I remember speaking to Martin Waldron, about this age group, (they would be the under 17 kids now) when they were under 11’s, and although this was a long time ago, he was saying it was the best group he’d ever had, and the only thing he was short of was a left back!

He predicted very big things for at least a couple of this group, hopefully this happens, but it looks like the last position he was looking for, could end up being the one who goes the furthest?

That’s why I’m not so big on academy football, because they get coached too much, from too many different coaches, and football really changes once kids get to around the age of 15 imo, and so many more things come into play?

Steavey Buckley
5 Posted 05/01/2021 at 18:28:47
Phill Thompson
6 Posted 05/01/2021 at 19:11:42
Tony, going on last season when I think 8 of the first years ( your u17 now) featured at u18 I thought we’d have a cracking team this year, often though they progress significantly in their 2nd year. It may be harsh but the marker for me is they should be playing at least some games at U23s in their 2nd year.

Martin Waldron pops up in interviews every so often mentioning young players he’s worked with, Isaac Price and Katia Kouyate were the last two I remember him tipping.

Michael Kenrick
7 Posted 06/01/2021 at 12:32:17
Good to see Unsie and the rest of the ex-players at Finch Farm all getting on the "same path" at the Academy, Steavie. Thanks for posting that.

His observations on player development seem to me to be bang on the nail. 50 players coming through in the Premier League era? Seem high... I might just have to create a TW page for that!

Great also to not see anywhere in that article any mention of loaning players out? It would be great if that was really not part of the Everton Way... but I know only too well it is. Or has been in the past.

Patrick McFarlane
8 Posted 06/01/2021 at 12:42:54
MK in that link that Steavey posted there is another link to a list of the players who have come through the academy. According to some - 49 of those players have or will take up coaching roles at Finch Farm, thus holding the club back! :)
Tony Abrahams
9 Posted 06/01/2021 at 13:44:26
Haven’t listened to what Unsworth says, but as much as I agree with him saying everyone has got to follow the same path, (similar to what Rodriguez says, about the first team) I then look and think how many young talented kids fall out of love with football, because it boils down to what him and Ebbrell call coach ability?

I started reading Carragher’s book years ago, but got to a page early on in the book and could read no more. He talked about his time at Lilleshall, and how a no nonsense coach stopped Joe Cole doing a cruyff turn, in the middle of the pitch, and probably because their coaching was all textbook, constantly taking the individualism out of the kids?

Hopefully after the lockdown the FA, look at revamping kids football, and start doing away with the depths of winter stuff, until the kids reach senior school, and concentrate on making it more of a summer sport, where the kids can play for hours?

Sorry I went off track, but the weather plays such an important part imo, and I’m not sure Xavi and Iniesta, would have ever had so much skill, if they had spent their early years on mud baths in the pissing down rain?

Steavey Buckley
10 Posted 06/01/2021 at 15:09:00
#7 Thanks Michael.
Robert Tressell
11 Posted 06/01/2021 at 20:39:41
Tony @9. The academy system is belatedly producing quality like Greenwood, Foden, Saka and Hudson-Odoi. These are outstanding players.

I do think the academy system has a long way to go still, though. Personally, I think clubs should be ashamed to represent their community with fewer than 3 or 4 academy graduates in the first 11 and a good few more in the squad.

Tony Abrahams
12 Posted 06/01/2021 at 20:56:43
English football has always produced good players Robert, but very few with great technical ability, and I'm certain this is because muddy pitches and teaming down rain is how it usually begins for our kids?

Coaching is great but I'm certain little snippets of information is much better than do as I say.

But I've probably used the wrong thread because this is more about Unsworth, who despite his critics, is working every hour possible to make our academy better.

Robert Tressell
13 Posted 06/01/2021 at 22:36:45
I agree with you about Unsworth, Tony. And I like some of what I see in the way the club structure is shaping up too. Always hoping.
Thomas Richards
14 Posted 06/01/2021 at 22:44:36
David Unsworth has to keep his job. I understand posters who think some of the coaches "only get the gig because it's the old boys network". Understand... but don't agree.

We need to instill the Everton heart into these young lads. Unsie is the man to do it.

Dave Lynch
15 Posted 06/01/2021 at 22:48:40
Holland has produced some of the greatest players the game has ever seen.

As I recall from my time spent their it rains a lot and gets balls freezing in winter.

Belgium is no tropical paradise and neither is Germany or Poland.

Hasn't stopped any of those countries producing talent.

Thomas Richards
16 Posted 06/01/2021 at 23:06:21
Difference is, Dave, the detail the Dutch go into. They were one of the associations that had the oldest age for when the kids were allowed to play on full-size pitches.

Our kids play on full-size pitches from a very early age. Result of that is the big, strong kids are the ones who are picked up. Smaller pitches develop the young lads' first touch, awareness of space, and awareness of teammates' availability for a pass.

Andrew Keatley
17 Posted 06/01/2021 at 23:18:27
Tony (9) - I think that the standard of pitches and training facilities for academy players at big clubs have largely made mud baths a thing of the past. As Robert (11) mentions, the technical quality of some recent academy graduates is up there with the best in Spain, Germany or anywhere else.

Dave Lynch
18 Posted 06/01/2021 at 23:20:35
Not arguing that point, Thomas.

I'm pointing out the weather has no real effect on producing decent players.

Paul Birmingham
19 Posted 06/01/2021 at 23:57:23
I watched Ajax train for a couple of days back in 2003, whilst on preseason tour watching Everton in Holland; Litmanen was there and a young Pienaar.

What stood out was the scale of their game, all kids wearing bibs, shorts and using equipment to scale, based on age. This gave the kids belief and confidence, and nothing like the Billy Casper type days from Kes that TWrs of an age will know about.

They take all the kids to play in different positions and to gauge their positional traits. They gain a knowledge and appreciation of the game and team structure.

The basic training intensity and focus on the basics and good communication skills has never left me.

It's always made me wonder what goes on at Finch Farm, and what Everton look for.

These days they are looking for athletes and very rarely do young small and talented lads make the grade these days at Finch Farm, and if they do they rarely get through and make it.

It's a shame but I believe and hope it will change as, if you're good enough size, and stature is in the mind, and the football brain makes the space and buys time, as you scan and read the game.

Here's hoping, that some good rough diamonds, can become shaped into world class players for Everton.

Tony Abrahams
20 Posted 07/01/2021 at 11:57:20
That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make Andrew@17. It’s great if you’re in an academy from an early age, but what about the rest mate?

What about the borderline kids, who the clubs release? Usually the skilful kids who quite don’t have the physicality, and after having a period on those nice pitches, are thrown back into the mud, where being strong, helps more than being skilful?

I’m talking about something that should have been done a very long time ago imo, and not just for the chosen few, (summer football for the younger kids) because I honestly think if the FA made these changes then the chosen few would grow?

Coach-ability? I understand what Unsworth is saying, but sometimes I feel it’s just words, even if I’m aware talent alone isn’t enough, because sometimes I think it’s the coaches in this country, that are the ones who aren’t prepared to change, but that’s obviously a different argument altogether.

Dave Abrahams
21 Posted 07/01/2021 at 12:23:39
Tony (20), John Paul Kissock is one of the young players you are talking about, very skilful, plenty of ability, plenty of heart, also very small, never even got on the bench at Everton. I bet he often wonders why he never got the chance, amongst many young players at Everton, sometimes, strangely, it's because your face doesn't fit, like many other workplaces.
Michael Kenrick
22 Posted 07/01/2021 at 12:56:29
Good memory, Dave. Not many of these get past you!

I took the liberty of adding a link to our TW profile of the little fella... sorry about the strange format. I see I updated it some time recently with his latest whereabouts...

He " was destined to never wear the Everton shirt in earnest for a first-team game, despite being named and on the bench for nine league games."

That's what bugs me about these players... yea, good enough to sit on the bench, we're gonna give you a right good glimpse of what might've been your future. Except... No, you don't ever get to play a senior game for the Blues. Sorry, kidda.


Tony Abrahams
23 Posted 07/01/2021 at 13:01:30
Face doesn’t fit, or because we are talking about coaches, and jobs for the boys maybe Dave?

This side of football is absolutely brutal, but I’m talking about changing the overall structure and becoming better because of it, because as they say, neither the Brazilian’s or the Spanish, are born with more skill than the English, Surely?

Robert Tressell
24 Posted 07/01/2021 at 13:27:02
Paul @ 19.

The weird thing is what you have described is not some kind of industry secret – it's been known for decades. Quite why the UK is so painfully slow to catch up is beyond me. But the lack of such intelligent coaching must also be why there are so few decent British managers.

Rodgers is the only one – possibly Potter – who is something other than just a motivator who can give a team a decent defensive shape.

Rob Dolby
25 Posted 07/01/2021 at 13:55:47
Elite Academy football is a results driven business. A coach will want to win every game to boost their profile within the club.

Very young kids get chewed up and spat out of academies at borderline child abuse levels. They lose the love of the game and mental edge to bounce back after being rejected.

We lose a lot of talent before kids are fully developed mentally and physically.
Our system is very good at producing single minded resilient characters.

I would love to see clubs not being able to pick kids up until they are 16 so that they can have a normal grass roots football education but they are all petrified of missing out on the next Rooney, instead academies are hoovering u7s up and selling the dream to parents and kids. Grassroots from u15s upwards in Liverpool is in alarming decline. I think there is only 1 league in the entire city for u17/u18.

Our u18 squad is probably based around 2 or 3 kids that coaches have high hopes for whilst the others are making the numbers up for them rather than trying to install a club ethos that runs consistently throughout the club.

I have digressed from the main thread topic but until someone is brave enough to think outside of the box the academy will keep on the normal churn which is better than most but not trail blazing.

Tony Abrahams
26 Posted 07/01/2021 at 14:36:15
Going back to Dave@15, I’d agree that it’s cold in these countries mate. I think these countries are different in how they treat their younger kids though, I remember the Dutch being no match for us at twelve years of age, and our teacher told us that they have a system that is less about winning, and more about development, until they reach their teenage years and then it changes.

I often revert back to the Peter Gabriel song, with Kate Bush called “Don’t give up” when watching the parents screaming at their 8 year old kids, in the cold, on damp muddy pitches with the ice cold rain, battering down on their faces.

I was taught to fight, taught to win, I never thought that I could fail!

Tony Abrahams
27 Posted 07/01/2021 at 14:47:04
Paul @19, that must have been an education watching something that is well more about educating their kids!

I'm glad you mentioned Pienaar, Paul, because I've been watching Everton for a very long time, and I'd say it was obvious to see how differently he'd been coached.

English players, rarely come towards the ball, but I used to love watching Pienaar though because his first movement was always towards the ball.

Jerome Shields
28 Posted 08/01/2021 at 10:38:54
I was expecting a lot more than I got from this assessment. But, as usual, got more information from posters Phill Thompson, Dave and Tony Abrahams. Keep up the good work.

I do miss the Old Evertonian Newspaper, never bought the glossy one. Both now defunct. . . probably for the same reasons we got this wafer-thin "assessment".

Unfortunately, I have little faith in Unsworth. I hope Brands can continue to reform, which might get the academy closer to Rob's template and a more Dutch-based system.

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