"We have to be ambitious but at the same time, we have to manage the situation. We maybe have some players that have to leave.”
"If they leave, it will give us more chances to approach other players and improve the squad."
"Everybody knows that this club has spent a lot of money in the last few years so that means that Financial Fair Play is there, so you have to respect the rules and you have to manage in the best way possible.”
"If you have players with big salaries that normally aren’t playing then you want to find a solution and this solution will mean you have money to spend on new players.”
Rafa Benitez: First Press Conference 14 July 2021
Rafa Benitez has held his first press conference as Everton manager. He mostly played safe and said what supporters would want to hear about competing and being competitive, which he repeated on a number of occasions. But the quotes above from the press conference are by far the most pertinent.
Benitez has in the press conference laid bare the failed largesse of the Moshiri years to date. The club are basically running close to Premier League Profit and Sustainability rules as well as Financial Fair Play rules, if we ever reach the chimera of European football again.
The idea we have another suitcase full of Moshiri dough to splash out on incoming transfers seems to be wishful thinking. When you consider that clubs are still recovering from the Covid pandemic, plus the massive and costly new stadium project at Bramley-Moore Dock, it seems to be more than just wishful thinking and more a flight of fantasy.
It would seem from Benitez's comments we have to move players out to bring in monies to fund any incoming transfers. But who will pay any sort of transfer fee for the likes of Bernard, Iwobi, Gomes, Sigurdsson etc? Not to mention the ridiculous wages they are picking up from Everton, which no club would match or even consider paying. So, with a load of substandard, not-fit-for-purpose players to move on, Marcel Brands finds himself in the same bind he has been in since he joined the Blues.
This being the case, it will fall to our few saleable assets to bring in any monies for incoming transfers. It would seem that the transfer of Moise Kean is an inevitable reality. He has never been happy at the club and never really been given a proper chance by either Marco Silva or Carlo Ancelotti. Moise Kean is one of the players who could demand a good transfer fee, although I personally would like to see him be given a chance by Benitez; it just depends on who blinks first Everton or PSG.
Yerry Mina seems to be the other player touted for sale. I think Mina has really progressed since his first arrival and is one of our best centre-backs. I would personally try and sell Michael Keane. It would definitely make sense to move on one of our plethora of centre-backs and probably two if Lewis Gibson goes to bring in money for the transfer kitty.
We can add James Rodriguez to our saleable assets, although I don’t think it will be for anything more than £10 million tops. From Benitez's comments at the press conference, it seems clear that Rodriguez won’t be an Everton player by the end of the transfer window. The club are in the world of sell to buy. With the new stadium
at Bramley-Moore Dock to be constructed and paid for; I also think this will be the case for a number of years to come.
In the press conference, Benitez on more than one occasion said he would be looking to improve the players we have at the club (good luck with that!), another clue that we won’t be getting a large influx of new blood through the Finch Farm gates. It would seem that he has taken the job with his eyes wide open about the financial constraints on the club. How long the very club-political Benitez will be able to stomach working under this financial reality is anyone’s guess.
He has on numerous occasions – Newcastle and Valencia spring to mind – played political games to try and get more financial backing for players. If he is still here for the 2022-23 season, I would think he will want to be backed substantially more in the transfer market than seems to be the case for the coming season, or his political games will probably start.
Which brings me to the second part of this article: the Academy. If, as seems to be the case, the club will be financially stretched in the coming seasons, then the role the Academy has to play is more vital than ever. Can we produce one or two gems in the coming seasons instead of buying players?
With the present academy structure and personnel, I think this would be a leap into insanity to think we can. The myth of the Everton Academy and the Everton Way is incredibly fanciful and downright preposterous, no matter what nonsense the clubs’ ambassadors and Blues like Leon Osman (the latest one), spout about "The Everton Way" and the "Everton DNA". (The only Everton DNA sin,e 1995 has been… let’s not go there!)
Since David Unsworth became Under-23s Manager and now Head of Academy (what’s he doing still managing the U23s when he should be concentrating on his role of overseer of the whole Academy?), the club has produced Tom Davies, that’s it. Calvert-Lewin and Mason Holgate were poached from Sheffield United and Barnsley. Nothing wrong with that, actually good business practice, but where are the players coming through since Tom Davies and the acquisition of Calvert-Lewin and Holgate? Answer: there are none.
Maybe Anthony Gordon will make a breakthrough; this season is his one chance, but I’m not hopeful about him myself. Even more pertinent, where are the players we can produce and sell on for a profit if they don’t make it with the Blues? Again, there are none. The best Rhino has produced are Kieran Dowell and Antonee Robinson who we have sold for a couple of million each. Not exactly a profit-making machine.
Under Unsworth, players who will never make it at Everton are also held on to for too long, which is both detrimental to the club and the players' careers. We either send them out on dead-end loans or keep them playing for the U23s such as we did last season we did with Ouzounidis and Broadhead – Why did he get a new deal?
All this achieves is it blocks the pathway for younger promising players. The club does have a number of promising younger players who will get more game time with the U-23s this season: Welch, Whitaker, Leban, for example, but do we really think Unsworth and Co will progress them? I doubt it. But if they won him a league title, he would be happy!!
So, we have a transfer window where it will be mainly players leaving to fund incoming transfers. The warning shot about our financial position was given by Benitez himself at his press conference. This may well be, and I think will be, the reality for a number of seasons to come.
If this is the financial reality facing the blues, then it is imperative that Brands and Benitez take a good look at the academy and try and get it fit for purpose. This is now a vital necessity, which Brands should have addressed the moment he walked into the club. Instead, he has given more power to one of the main impediments to a functioning academy in David Unsworth, instead of removing him and the good Old Blue Boy network beneath him.
Reader Comments (82)
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
1 Posted 17/07/2021 at 20:56:21
Martin, surely you accept that the talent, ability, desire, has to be there in the player already? And you have to accept that any player in any academy having the ability to come through and be a star in the Premier League in this day and age is extremely rare. Yet you keep beating them up with the same old tired and boring stick.
Either they are not finding good enough players in the first place, or the good ones they do find are being destroyed by their incompetence? Well, sorry but I think you need to prove that's what's happening. And some they keep around for a very sensible reason that you never seem to acknowledge: they need to provide a good team environment that, yes, is competitive in Premier League 2.
I can't understand why Unsworth gets this shit from so many on here. Where is the evidence that he is not doing his job to the very highest standard, but that the players simply are not good enough to make the grade?
2 Posted 17/07/2021 at 21:16:08
I think what Brands has began to introduce, with regards fast-tracking these younger players might bear fruit over the next few years, - although Ive also heard a few young players began to get stress fractures last season, which just shows how physically demanding football really is in this country imo.
The one thing that does disappoint me when I watch the younger teams play, is how methodical they all look. It might be about the players, but this could also suggest its the coaching, and thats why it will be interesting to see how the likes of Charlie Whitaker develop, because he definitely looks like hes got that something a little bit different in his game, so maybe time will tell?
3 Posted 17/07/2021 at 21:40:21
The evidence is that since he's been in charge of our youth team he hasn't produced one single quality Premier League player. His sole achievement is Tom Davies. If that's your greatest achievement, it's probably fair to say he's not ‘doing his job to the very highest standard'.
4 Posted 17/07/2021 at 22:22:01
5 Posted 17/07/2021 at 23:56:19
They tend to get groomed at well coached "lesser" teams like Norwich and Brighton and then snapped up at the big teams or let go to Championship teams, like Lookman and Robinson were.
When you look at the vast talent pools at the likes of Merseyside, Manchester, London and Geordieland, this is a great shame. Rather than Lilleshall, which is itself elitist, I would sooner see regional centers for kids and an age restriction put in so younger kids are not overcoached.
I would also like to see a "B" team league so that players are given opportunities above U23 level.
6 Posted 18/07/2021 at 01:11:47
I could be wide of the mark but I don't think the clubs created the U23s set-up, so it's not necessarily for their benefit. It seems as though it was set up to encourage (force) the Premier League clubs to retain a significant cadre of youngsters they had developed rather than simply cherry-picking talented and first-team ready players from around the globe (which is still how much of the first-team squads will be put together). I don't believe we retain the players that we do because the club expects most of them to make it, we simply have an obligation to put out junior teams up to U23 level which serve as a vehicle for the tiny fraction who will actually make it.
The academy is something mainly for the parent club, if they can make it work, but the number of clubs that have consistently turned out players that can't be bettered by shopping around must be minuscule and I suspect the successes are mainly to be found with the clubs that genuinely get their pick of the prospects and routinely have masses of them signed up at any one time. Even if we do identify, attract and nurture the best prospects, we will still always be likely to ultimately lose them before we get full value from them until the first team is a genuine contender for silverware.
8 Posted 18/07/2021 at 08:14:49
The meet and greet party of Unsworth and Ferguson, with their smug demeanour, in contrast to the guarded careful and non-committal attitude of Benitez, showed how difficult it is going to be for Benitez to push through necessary change, right from the start. Alongside having to build a team, Benitez is heading into a cultural war. What's more, he knows it, promising only improvement on last season and setting out the reasons and constraints from the start.
These leave one big question: Is it practical of Moshiri to depend totally on the leadership of Benitez to implement the necessary changes, while also depending on other unsuccessful, long-standing, under-performing, internal manageers, who are responsible in large part for the real Everton you describe? Paul the Esk, at Board level, does not think so, and I will go further and question the performance and direction of most of the internal management of Everton. I even think they will do everything they possibly can to prevent change.
Don't be deterred by the Fantasy Brigade, who will pick through your article and posts. If enough of us bang on about the reality that is Everton, it will get through at some internal level at Everton and contribute something, no matter how small, towards the momentum for change at Everton.
Excellent article, Martin.
9 Posted 18/07/2021 at 08:30:51
Something is not right at Finch Farm and hasn't been for a long time.
10 Posted 18/07/2021 at 08:39:52
I agree that Brands has tried to implement change at the Academy with the fast-tracking approach you describe. But he has also been involved in promoting Unsworth to Head of the Academy. Is Unsworth still manger of the U23s? Dining out on their achievements as per usual? Seems a bit self-defeating if true. You will know better than I, being more in touch with what's is happening on the ground.
11 Posted 18/07/2021 at 08:45:34
Manchester United lead with 3 (Rashford, Greenwood & McTominay). They have produced Lingard as well. They've no doubt been the best academy over the years in terms of consistency and standard.
Chelsea seem to have done something right in recent years: Abraham, Mount, Hudson-Odoi.
Liverpool only really have Alexander-Arnold.
Tottenham: Winks and Kane, although Kane did spend time with Arsenal and Watford before landing at Tottenham. To the point made about Holgate and Calvert-Lewin; it was Tottenham who turned Kane into a top-level footballer, but he was also nurtured by other academies.
Man City: I can only really think of Foden. But they have invested massively so watch that space.
So, the point made about it being rare for any club to produce players from their academy that progress to first team at that club is applicable across most English clubs. I suppose the picture could look different if you changed the discussion to be about how many of those (and our) academies have produced players who now play top-flight or professional football for any club or who are in the squad of their parent club. I'm focussing on regular first-team players and even that can be ambiguous in the modern squad rotation based game.
Most who read my dross will know my views and it relates to Michael's point (@1). A large part of the problem is that the grassroots system is not producing the standard required, so not feeding the academies with sufficient numbers of players who can be developed into the standard we are talking about.
I want to be clear in that I use the word "producing". I am not saying the talent isn't out there, it just isn't being coached correctly before they hit the academies.
The proof is in the England pudding. We are talking locally produced mainly and England's record on the international scene tells us what we need to know about the grassroots.
That said, these things take time; years. But I still think we're missing the point by focussing on the elite academies whilst our grassroots feeder system is in need of an overhaul. In my opinion.
12 Posted 18/07/2021 at 08:47:02
Other posters are way more informed but I can see some sort of shift going on. We seem to be a bit more focused on bringing in well scouted talent from elsewhere. Nkounkou and Branthwaite are surely going to make the step up, Thierry Small will, (somewhere). Our young keeper Leban looks to me he could well make it too. The two young lads coming in this week from Sunderland and Holland look promising and it will be exciting to follow their progress. Lewis Dobbin has started preseason well – can he step it up a level?
So I can understand the frustration but I think things are gradually changing for the better. A bit of stability on the managerial side will also go a long way to fostering trust and confidence in these young lads. Then the timing and introduction for them can be better assessed for everyone's benefit.
13 Posted 18/07/2021 at 09:35:41
Unsworth has not exactly been blessed with a conveyor belt of talent into the U23s over the years. And the U23s is kind of a broken concept anyway being a kind of last chance saloon for players not outstanding enough to hit the first-team reckoning age at 18 or 19, as a great many top players do.
Dowell, Baningime and a few others all had ability but were unable to make a big impact on loan at lesser clubs. That's up to them – and in contrast to Leon Osman years ago, who refused to let his opportunity go begging.
Unsworth cannot turn an average U23s player into a first-teamer with a Top 10 Premier League club where every player is an international.
He can, however, help them understand team spirit, togetherness and tactical work. Since he's won a few titles with middling quality teams, he might be doing okay with that.
The real work has to start much younger – and the structure needs to be better. Brands has done a clearout and we now have a better route to the first team for the most talented who will soon find their way to U18s, U23s and loans.
We have as good a crop coming through as we've had in years – albeit no stars (except Small… who might well leave).
Hopefully there's some stars in the age group below that. It took Chelsea a long time to get their conveyor belt going – and Man City are a few years behind. It could be a few more years yet for us to benefit from good work being done on the Academy now.
14 Posted 18/07/2021 at 09:54:21
“They are working hard, and really enjoying it, and these are the two things that will always help people improve.”
That's the problem with the academies imo though, Danny, they take any talented kid they see, have a look at them, start judging them, and this must take the love out of the game for a large percentage (who they judge after 6 weeks as not being good enough), along with removing the stars out of many parents' eyes, and both these things must have a negative effect long-term. (Maybe not in the parents' case, but this might mean they begin to half give up on their talented child?)
The only thing these academies can give a good young player is a “better standard of competition” imo, especially because the coaching is all about “the group”. I personally believe that a little 20-minute personal session, every week, on top of the regular training, would be so much more beneficial for talented kids, although it's all about opinion obviously.
15 Posted 18/07/2021 at 10:04:09
Whether he's previously been distracted by the scale of the first-team issues, or prevented by internal, cultural barriers, we have no way of knowing. Maybe he's got concessions in what appeared to be a drawn-out contract process. Who knows?
But hopefully, we'll start to see some improvement in productivity. But I guess it might take some time.
There'll be new players coming in and some players leaving, to join those who have already left. Same as every year.
16 Posted 18/07/2021 at 10:08:58
Whether or not Everton then produce a player or players of Premier League quality, in some respect is either good scouting or in ‘the lap of the gods'.
Training and playing with a degree of technical and physical ability must be down to the coaching staff.
17 Posted 18/07/2021 at 10:16:06
In addition they nurtured Loftus-Cheek, Van Aarnholt, Nathan Ake and Tariq Lamptey plus others who have moved on but are playing at other PL clubs - whereas most who leave Evertons academy head for the lower leagues.
Its not as if there is a shortage of local competition for these young lads either. They seem to have been doing something right at Cobham for quite a few years.
18 Posted 18/07/2021 at 10:46:35
3 simple but true aspects, pertinent to youth football development called out there; encouragement, enjoyment & hard work. I never used to criticise a young player for a mistake. Take them aside ask them why they made a decision, explain what they could have done different in the scenario & walk them through it. Coach & teach. Particularly the younger age groups. Individual coaching of players is very important.
I do witness people trying to get overly technical when training young players and the instructions from the side during a match. It takes the enjoyment out of it. Encourage them, let them play & enjoy it.
Interesting you mention the academies being quick to judge. I had a couple of boys go along to Watford. I don't know if still the case, but hey had a reputation for quickly judging the one or two they decided were making it and surrounding them with all the decent players in the area. I mean how do you judge and make that decision at 14? To Roberts point, players develop & mature at different ages.
We received a boy from Wycombe at 14. Always found them a bit better, but still odd to judge so early. They initially bought through Matty Cash before Forest took him up to their youth set up. Good to see him having done well.
19 Posted 18/07/2021 at 11:02:40
Maybe its because they have got to be this good to reach the required standard, of a top EPL team, but its just not something I see from players who have been coached at Everton, for a long period of their lives.
I think everything comes back to one thing imo. They are all footballers, but the better players, and the better coached players, can just play at a much higher intensity, and this is why we have so many different levels within the beautiful game!
20 Posted 18/07/2021 at 11:27:51
If players were coming through the ranks were going elswhere and "making it" I could understand the point, But they are'nt, surely that tells you they were not good enough in the first place.
It defies belief that Moshiri has spent north of 70m on managers and DOF's who in turn have squandered around half a billion pound between them and we have fans who want to blame the junior staff for our demise. The fucking mansion is burning down and they want to aim the hose pipe at the bike shed.
Unsworth spotted Branthwaite and recomended him. He recomended Holgate and if it wasnt for him, 80m rated DCL simply wouldnt be here. He may not have been able to turn average players to Premier league players (Who could ?), but he can definitely spot them. He is one of the very few people at the club who actually pays for himself.
Rafa Benitez is the latest in a long line of disastrous managerial appointments made by Moshiri, but you can be very certain that even his monotone pressers will be twisted and rehashed by the crazies.
I'd have a far healthier respect for the views of the Finch Farm Fact Finders if just one of them came on here and told us he has been anywhere near the place. They wont. They cant.
Pinch of salt
21 Posted 18/07/2021 at 11:40:33
22 Posted 18/07/2021 at 11:47:38
23 Posted 18/07/2021 at 11:52:29
Totally agree that Unsy is doing a great job with shaping what he has, but I wonder how many players he has found would have actually made the grade ? Instead we will never know and the possible potential is lost. I think it's a huge gap in development in not just our club but the league as a whole.
Imagine if we had feeder clubs, Bury would probably still be going, other clubs too..overall level of football would increase and viability of lower league clubs would be assured.. and players would still be in the fold. Somethings post covid will have to change, the better use of the players we have must be one of them.
24 Posted 18/07/2021 at 12:13:30
Spain's model is generally a cross between a club's reserve team & feeder club. They can play up to the second tier but they can't play in the same league. So if a club get's relegated into the same league, the B Team must drop a division even if not finishing in a relegation place in their own league. Double jeopardy?!!
Likewise, if a B Team were to finish in a promotion spot, they can't go up if the first team is in that league, so the place goes to the next best placed team. This happened once to Bilbao Atletico, the B Team of Atletico Bilbao.
And one occasion, Real Madrid and Real Madrid Castilla met in the Spanish Cup Final. Imagine Everton playing St Domingo's at Wembley!!
They have it in Germany too, but the B Team is prohibited from playing in the professional leagues so can only get to Tier 4 as well as not being allowed to play in the major cup competition.
Of interest with the Spanish system, it that clubs are allowed to "transfer" players between first & B squads even outside of the transfer windows.
25 Posted 18/07/2021 at 12:20:05
I remember going on sub, in a central league game once at Man City, for the last 30 minutes, and the game was lightning quick, compared to a game Id played the day before, which was a midland youth cup final, against Coventry who had just won the FA youth cup.
City won the central league that day, with another set of young players that were going to be the answer to their woes, but it never seems to work out this way, and its only when young players, are added to top experienced players, does it really seem to work, like what happened at Man Utd, and now seems to be starting to work at Chelsea, whilst the younger players at Everton, have all been introduced to a struggling squad, lacking leadership, which cant have been a beneficial environment for any of them?
Good point about Unsworth paying for himself Darren, its exactly what I took out of his open letter to DCL, last week mate.
26 Posted 18/07/2021 at 12:31:01
Basically Benitez is saying that there is very little money to spend, players will need to be sold, and don't hold your breath for any big signing. I'm not sure how the club plans to progress forward using this formula.
27 Posted 18/07/2021 at 12:42:49
28 Posted 18/07/2021 at 13:15:00
I think Ill reserve judgement on all this until the window has closed. Pure speculation.
We know that once planning permission was ratified the amount spent on BMD, so far, £50M in the last accounts weve seen, will cease to be a cost, for example. It may well be more than that now, so that may have some impact on the P&L.
The financing package, and the naming rights are yet to be announced, which will also have some impact on our ability to spend going forward.
Im no expert on FFP and its rules, or its current impacts on the club, even in its current relaxed form. But we wont be alone Im sure, and some are probably in a worse position.
So not being an expert I may as well wait until the full picture is revealed, rather than get steamed up something that may or may not happen.
Of course it could turn out even worse!
29 Posted 18/07/2021 at 13:36:40
No. They didnt. They pushed the boundaries and let the bullies have a go at them. Got a slap on the wrist £16m fine and transfer cap in 2016 and then lawyered-up when the bullies came back for more. So much so, they slapped fair play so hard they almost killed it.
Why should we role over and have our belly tickled then? Tell them to go feck themselves and do whatever we think is right for the club. Lawyer-up ourselves and go to war: if the ESL lot can be fined just £3m each for trying to steal the game then why should we accept anything more?
Uefas walking a tightrope already with dozens of top clubs hit for 6 in pandemic. If they go after one they have to go after them all. Personally I think well see them suspending FFP further or simply changing it to be focused on the next X years to give clubs a chance to invest and recover.
If they dont, our fight will set the bar. If we lose, then theres no choice other than to give the kids a proper go. No matter what happens, Ill be in BMD, and I recons there is no league position that wouldnt result in 52k others being there every chance we get.
The development itself - hopefully coupled with City being unshackled from the joke that is world heritage status (“wed rather a sewer than a stadium” <- muppets) - has potential to turn the city into the next New York or Sydney over the next 20 years. Plenty of opportunity for Moshiri and Alisher to stick about and keep themselves involved.
Fed up of the negativity and defeatism. If we want to win, were going to have to fight for it. Start now.
30 Posted 18/07/2021 at 13:48:26
Money will be there for transfers. There's players that need to be sold for a variety of reasons. Selling will free up places, free up wages, and bring in kitty money. This will aid FFP.
BMD is separate from player running and FFP ( I think).
31 Posted 18/07/2021 at 18:45:49
32 Posted 18/07/2021 at 18:58:24
33 Posted 18/07/2021 at 20:04:23
Stop being nice, plucky Everton!
34 Posted 19/07/2021 at 18:32:29
The decision to blow him out for pocket change at age 20 was not made by Rhino. And whoever did make it is gonna look pretty damned stupid by the end of this year.
35 Posted 19/07/2021 at 18:59:51
Funny thing is some players need some luck to make it. Look at lheanacho who looked pretty ordinary till Rogers was forced to play him through injury.
2 mil for Robinson and 2 for Dowel is awful... or should l say typical.
36 Posted 20/07/2021 at 03:21:37
Just the same as at Newcastle and latter years at the RedShite even though H&G had backed him to the hilt.
37 Posted 20/07/2021 at 04:13:29
No one needs to join you spying at FF, the lack of talent speaks for itself. But weve got bigger problems than the under 23s. Weve precisely two creative players. One is a part time Instagram model whose agent is hawking him all over Europe. The other is otherwise engaged. Weve five defensive mids none of whom are a patch on Gueye and we have a snail paced Portuguese who offers precisely nothing. We blew a lot of cash on two crappy wingers we cant give away. Our “star” man decided to forego rest and pre season for a holiday in Japan, and our beloved but past it Captain is still getting jump starts as weve failed to replace him. The manager called it quits. We replaced him with a cantankerous RS. And our knights in shining armor are two journeymen free transfer wingers who produce a goal or an assist once every 10 games. What a shambles of shit.
38 Posted 20/07/2021 at 06:10:35
England have just reached the Final of the European Nations Cup and I wonder how many of that senior squad actually started with a Premier League academy and how many started at a lower league or overseas club.
Not sure what if anything it might show but one thing remains a fact, they had to start somewhere. Similarly, what number/percentage of players at Premier League clubs are not English, or for that matter British.
39 Posted 20/07/2021 at 06:21:23
40 Posted 20/07/2021 at 06:28:34
42 Posted 20/07/2021 at 06:53:18
43 Posted 20/07/2021 at 07:05:14
However, there have over recent years been steps introduced to encourage clubs to take greater interest such as a minimum number of players under 25 years of age, the availability at any time of younger players who have come through Academies in 1st team squads, international competition at both club and national level and compensation set by a Board rather than transfer fees. It also comes to mind that several Continental leagues only allow so many none EU players.
My concern is more along the lines of the type of coaching as it has often been said that British coaching is more inclined to teamwork (and some have pointed out athleticism) while South America seems to emphasize individual skills.
In any case my #38 was more a passing thought as to where the best (national senior level) started and, doubtfully, if any sort of pattern emerged.
44 Posted 20/07/2021 at 07:12:59
Also positions. We generally (and I'm being generic here) try to shoehorn players into positions too early. The Dutch in particular are good at rotating young players to give them experience in different positions and then making a later decision on where their best one is.
45 Posted 20/07/2021 at 07:17:03
Alan, yes fully agree but in truth it hasn't really worked due to a trade off between playing youth or experience and I cannot really blame the clubs, its still all about the money and staying in the premiership, which means the opportunities are really limited for younger players as it stands. As Tony indicated earlier in the posts, playing in the Central league was significantly faster adn harder than youth games.
46 Posted 20/07/2021 at 07:20:22
47 Posted 20/07/2021 at 07:42:18
The talent is out there but we're not developing it.
48 Posted 20/07/2021 at 07:44:12
Alan, I think the type of English / British manager we have seen in recent years is a result of the players we have been bringing through for decades. The winds changing? I'm not convinced as yet. I don't know if this has just been like the fabled "golden generation" and England & Scotland got lucky with the planets aligning and a bunch of players coincidentally coming through at the same time.
Time will tell. I do hope there has been or will be change. I may not care too much for England, but I do care for youth football and English grass roots football.
49 Posted 20/07/2021 at 08:03:00
Danny@44, to much emphasis is put on results at an early age, rather than on development like in other countries he mentions. People in the academy system will say different, but its a massive point imo that Danny.
Andrew@47, the talent is out there we are just not developing it. This is a more contentious argument imo, its why I said people in the academy system would argue with Dannys very pertinent point, because I think England has made massive grounds in this area, over the last ten years.
Coaching is key though, and it does look as though Chelsea and Man Utd, are producing the more “fluent footballers” and also young players who know how to bring “intensity” (so important imo) into the game?
50 Posted 20/07/2021 at 08:31:17
We had our opportunity to turn a player exactly like that in Ross Barkley and to me he was so over coached it took a lot of his natural talent out of his game. It's a crying shame that he wasn't in that England squad over the summer.
The last product of the Everton academy to be an England regular was Wayne Rooney and he's retired now. That's 20 years without.
51 Posted 20/07/2021 at 08:47:56
52 Posted 20/07/2021 at 11:55:30
I visited the Schalke academy last year before going to watch the first team. Various age groups playing. All open and it was possible to roam around and stand on the sides watching the youth teams.
What struck me was the teams were just being allowed to play, with only occasional interaction from the side. The odd calm instruction and bit of advice, but no constant shouting and screaming. Most of the talking by the coaches was done at half time and at the end.
53 Posted 20/07/2021 at 12:07:11
54 Posted 20/07/2021 at 12:31:15
For a team mostly in the top 8 or so over the last ten years I think the product from the academy has been very disappointing. Whether this is to do with coaching or recruitment is hard to tell, but we should have done better and need to do better moving forwards.
57 Posted 20/07/2021 at 13:31:52
On Unsworth, l don't think he set the fees for Dowell and Robinson. If he was in charge of the first team, l'm sure they would've been given more opportunity.
We have to get shut of a lot of players just to find a spot on the bench for the likes of Gordon.
58 Posted 20/07/2021 at 13:38:38
What's in the head is often the difference between those who do and don't make it, is something that our academy falls short on?
59 Posted 20/07/2021 at 15:18:07
It may be young lads are being pushed too hard too early or just that the nature of the game at the top is only the fittest survive.
Throw in fame and big money with social distractions like drink, drugs, gambling and women and that compounds the problem.
Even Rooney was found out at a relatively young age.
I also believe Osman was a youth team product who played for England and who can argue that Tony Hibbert wasnt a success.
60 Posted 21/07/2021 at 00:40:58
People ask how/why Chelsea have such a strong academy and churn out players constantly, its down to their catchment area. The literally have a free run at the whole of the South. The town I grew up in, that's about 1 hour south of London in Hampshire, both secondary schools in the town have deals with Chelsea and have a trained coach running their school teams (which happens all across Surrey & Hants). An example of this is Mason Mount who's Portsmouth born & bred, but has been in Chelsea's academy since an early age. Whoever Chelsea don't pick up, they normally end up at Saints who are also known for their youth development.
61 Posted 21/07/2021 at 07:50:55
Arsenal's model was for many years seemingly focussed on foreign imports, even at academy level. Didn't Liverpool go like that, funnily enough, under Benitez? Or maybe it was before that?
I haven't looked at specific stats, so shooting from the hip a bit here. But following a decade of academy success and having the monopoly on local youth (a lot of them boyhood Evertonians; McManaman, Fowler, Carragher, Owen), they switch focus), their policy switched.
That seems to make sense in my fading memory, as by the late 90s / early 2000s, we became be the place more of the local players were going and we brought through Jeffers (wasted talent by jumping early, although that was a grim period), Osman, Hibbert & Rooney. I seem to recall a mini-Derby during that period when Liverpool had mainly Spanish and European youngsters.
I do think geography matters, but so does the coaching set up. Read up on Carragher's reason for settling on Liverpool having been courted by both us and them and spending time at Everton. Forget the person we know now; this was a kid who used to turn up in his Everton kit at the Liverpool Academy. As much as we may revile the character now, he and his family made an unemotional football decision based on coaching standards and set up.
Hypothetically, if it was me with my son, I'd need to understand a number of criteria to make my decision:
1. What is the coaching standard & set up. How do they teach football?
2. Are they genuinely interested in developing him as a footballer and providing opportunity to progress in the game.
3. How do they care for his wider development and mentor him as an individual
4. Is it Everton?
Point 4 tells you I'd be rubbish at this if Everton were involved!
62 Posted 21/07/2021 at 08:26:15
I was watching a game yesterday, and as always started talking to someone who happened to be a coach watching the game. I asked about a kid who was playing because I know his dad, and this coach said that any kid they get from Liverpool or Man Utd, “are always” more technical than kids they get from other clubs, and this came about because he was praising the kid who Id asked abouts technical ability, and hed been at Liverpool for years as a child.
I was close up to this game yesterday, and it made me realize how much football has changed. I find it a little bit boring sometimes because although its pass, pass, pass, (something Id always advocate) its mostly sideways, then that big switch, which usually ends up with the player receiving the ball checking backwards, and although its become more technical, its all about possession, possession, possession, and if this is the way most teams play, then usually the only way to turn the defensive team around, is with intensity, imo. So for me looking in from the outside, coaching now, should always be about being able to bring intensity into any footballer.
63 Posted 21/07/2021 at 08:50:24
That's what we're missing in our game. We're doing the passing and possession thing, but lacking the attacking intent when it presents itself. The England team are a reflection of this. It's all very cautious and safety first. No-one can accuse City of being cautious even though they often play patient, possession football. But they mainly have foreign players to do that.
64 Posted 21/07/2021 at 09:53:35
65 Posted 21/07/2021 at 14:28:08
66 Posted 21/07/2021 at 15:40:34
The fact of the matter is the u18s have not finished higher than third in the last 5 seasons, and that's third in the northern section. Often we barely scrape more wins than losses. Most want us to produce a Sancho, a Rashford, or a Greenwood. All of those players played for their clubs before losing their eligibility for the u18s.
If a player gets to Unsworth, and hasn't played for the first team, then he's already unlikely to make it. It does not matter how good a coach Unsworth is (or is not) he cannot sprinkle magic dust on them and make them superstars.
The other fact of the matter, an indisputable fact, is that Everton produce more league (top four tiers) players than any other academy. Well folks, for me that proves how good our academy is. Come through the Everton academy and you have a great chance of a professional career in the leagues. The coaching achieves this.
As for only producing Tom Davies, that's incorrect. It has produced the following:
21: Thierry Small, Tyler Onyango, Nathan Broadhead
20: Anthony Gordon
19: Kieran Dowell
18: Harry Charsley, Jonjo Kenny, Morgan Feeney, Beni Baningime, Alex Denny, Fraser Hornby
These players all played for the Everton first team in competitive games, with a load playing in the dead rubber EL game in 2018.
Right now we have the best crop of kids we have had for a long time. The under 18s didn't have a great season, which they should have had, as most of the best players were playing a level above.
It is refreshing to see Rafa Benitez is having a good look at a load of them. The ones to keep an eye out for are as follows:-
Harry Tyrer - 19 year old keeper who has already made the first team bench
Lewis Gibson - 21 year old centre back bought from Newcastle who is currently first team in the pre-season so far
Jarrad Branthwaite - you'll remember Jarrad, he needs to shake off that bad loan and get his career moving again.
Ryan Astley - 19 year old welsh captain at u18, perhaps not fulfilling earlier promise but still time as a centre back
Thierry Small - talented 16 year old left back currently AWOL and forcing a move where we will receive very limited compensation.
Kyle John - right winger cum right back who is currently first team. Now 20
Tyler Onyango - looks like Patrick Vieira with an afro. He's 18 now and out injured after a nasty ankle fracture. Should be back after the season starts, which is a shame as he looks a genuine talent.
Isaac Price - one they've been whispering about for a while and he stepped up well to the u23s last season at just 17. He isn't ready for the first team yet but should star for the u23s.
Lewis Dobbin - 18 now and fit, after a bad injury wrecked his season. Right footed left sided attacker with pace to burn and dangerous cutting in on his right. He's playing centre forward for the first team right now with DCL's 9 on his back and will try to persuade Rafa he should keep a place in the squad.
Tom Cannon - scores goals but lacks Dobbin's technical ability. If he can beef up a bit, perhaps he can make it. He's also 18 now and also has been playing first team in the games so far.
And the next big thing is Charlie Whittaker. He's now 17 he scored 6 in 21 for the u18s but got a chance for the u23s last season and scored 5 in 4 games (5 games played in total). Think his goal scoring isn't that impressive? Well consider that he is actually an attacking midfielder and it is. Follow this lad for the u23s again and who knows, he might actually break into the first team.
Katia Kouyate got up to the u23s last season at the age of 17, but he got a bad injury. He should be back for the new season and will no doubt be eased back in with the u18s before stepping back up to the u23s again. He's still only 17 and can play anywhere across the front 3 like Dobbin. He looked a real talent and hopefully injury has not derailed his progress.
There's real talent in the Everton academy for the first time in a while, lets see how this lot get on before you dismiss our academy setup as not fit for purpose.
67 Posted 21/07/2021 at 15:51:02
68 Posted 21/07/2021 at 19:08:22
69 Posted 22/07/2021 at 07:32:27
I havent seen enough of him, but I do think when a player does the hard part, and then casually gives the ball away spoiling all his good work, then this can be rectified with that magic word, “intensity?” By drumming it into the player that he cant relax, until hes completed the move, instead of relaxing and becoming complacent, because hes already done the hard part!
70 Posted 22/07/2021 at 07:55:28
Heath was an intelligent player. Clever at drifting into space almost undetected.
One of my favourite goals that I witnessed from the Gwladys Street was at against Norwich. Without looking, my fading memory can't remember if it was the 86-87 title winning season or 87-88, but I can visualise it now.
I've often lauded the sheer brilliance and arrogance of Sheedy for that goal as he seemed to stop and stood almost still in front of the Norwich defence. It was like he was staring them out before literally scooping the ball over them with a lobbed pass for Heath to latch onto and smash it home.
But as well as Sheedy's magician like, unique execution of the pass and his football brain, he waited for the runner. And that runner who drifted past the Norwich defence, almost ghost like, was Adrian Heath. Intelligent football all around.
I'm obviously getting nostalgic, so could be over-egging this. It may not have been the most significant of matches Everton I've seen Everton play in or won, but I remember that moment of footballing brilliance as if it was yesterday.
It kept us talking all the way back from Kirkdale to Hunts Cross!
71 Posted 22/07/2021 at 08:14:20
I was obsessed by Reid, so it was only when I have watched old footage of Heath, did I begin to realize how good the man was, plus I remember my first footballing mentor, once go on about Hinchy, whilst he was still a young kid at Stoke, and if he was good enough for him, he must have been some player! So good luck to little Charlie Whitaker, especially because it's always nice watching good footballers, who can also do things that little bit differently.
72 Posted 22/07/2021 at 08:24:39
73 Posted 22/07/2021 at 08:30:37
At the time Tony, I couldn't see past Sharpe. My now wife found it odd that whilst my fellow squaddies had page 3 posters up around their bed "pit", I had an Everton flag and a small framed picture of Graeme next to my bed! She still eventually married me.
But when I look back, it was Sheedy for me. But my word, what choices we had!! I do wish we'd have seen more of Bracewell. He seemed to ooze grace and class.
74 Posted 22/07/2021 at 08:46:43
I'll look to those more learned on the inner workings of Finch Farm, but if that is his role, who is managing the U23s? He can't do both and the academy is bigger than the U23s.
In his and everyone's defence, you can only deal with what you're served. If the grass roots doesn't produce, there is only so much polishing you can do.
Shame Harvey and Sheedy aren't still around. They seemed good at coaching and developing the youngsters. And as I've said many times, I wish Leon Osman would pack in the punditry, get his training kit back on and get back to Finch Farm. Those are the types we need coaching young players.
75 Posted 22/07/2021 at 09:16:37
I wouldn't blame Unsworth, or even Paul Tait, I just think, that with my own feelings being that Everton produce mostly methodical footballers, possibly backed up with this enabling so many of them to eventually make the grade lower down the pyramid? I would definitely be looking at the coaching standards or systems they are using in the younger age groups.
Kids start playing football very early now, too early imo, and too much emphasis is put on winning, rather than development. It's a crying shame when you look at how much the game changes around the age of 14, when tackles can start to do more than just hurt, and kids begin to learn how to keep their eyes on the ball, and suddenly you have to have a little bit more savvy, because so many new aspects suddenly come into the game.
76 Posted 22/07/2021 at 09:27:02
What did Colin Harvey bring to Evertons first team? Im sure Kendall watched a reserve game and was impressed with the way Harvey had them hunting in packs, which is mostly about intensity, Im sure!!
Osman and Pienaar, Danny, neither of them physical, neither of them quick, but both of them had an exceptional first touch, and a real appreciation of knowing they needed to find space, to survive in such a physical league, and Im getting as bad as you with those scratched records, because Im certain they would both make brilliant youth coaches, and would love to see them both involved at finch-farm.
77 Posted 22/07/2021 at 10:07:54
Who's to say Unsworth can't do both?
If Head of Academy is largely a desk job of administration, then getting out there with the players, picking the teams for the U23s… It just seems to me (from what he says admittedly, I have nothing else to go on) that being Manager of the Under-23s is what he enjoys the most.
But of course the evidence that convicts him every time is the lack of new players coming through to the Premier League. And we just know for certain, don't we, that it's Unsworth's fault. Or the Old Blue Boys club of ex-Everton players now doing the coaching.
He can't win.
78 Posted 22/07/2021 at 11:19:28
More a thought than a criticism Michael. Back to your very first point on this thread. Delete Unsworth, insert whoever. They can only work with what is presented to them, although the coaching will determine how much of that natural ability can be developed. And even then there are so many other factors involved that coaches don't always have control over. I wouldn't call producing a footballer a lottery, but neither is it a clinically scientific formula.
If he enjoys managing the Under 23s then let him do that. Personally, I'd have thought the Director of the Academy would overseeing the scouting system and coaches of youth teams from the development teams through U18s and U23s. Implementing a vision and a strategy that his scouts and coaches go and execute on.
No Unsworth bashing here, just an observation on the apparent structure and organisation.
79 Posted 22/07/2021 at 11:45:43
I remember stats that under Benitez of their 65 player squad over half were from Spain, and recruited by Benitez.
80 Posted 22/07/2021 at 14:26:20
81 Posted 23/07/2021 at 00:06:34
Everton CEO Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale, MBE, has been named Business Woman of the Year and netted an awards hat-trick at the National Business Womens Awards 2020.
Professor Barrett-Baxendale had already been named 'Business Woman of the Year in the large organisation category and ‘Influential Business Woman of the Year, when she was revealed as the judges choice for the evenings top honour.
And there was a fourth accolade for Professor Barrett-Baxendale when she received a silver award for Corporate Leader of the Year.
The Overall Business Woman of the Year award recognised Evertons CEO for her exceptional leadership of Everton Football Club and steering the response of both the football club and its charity, Everton in the Community, to the global coronavirus outbreak.
82 Posted 23/07/2021 at 00:11:50
83 Posted 23/07/2021 at 00:24:00
84 Posted 26/07/2021 at 16:05:05
I think you where a bit harsh on Unsworth. Really ripping him and Osman just because they have been dedicated to doing a job for the club for years.
I hope that one day you will wake up and be able to see that from the shambles of our recent past this club is now run professionally and as a club and a culture the results of the hard work that is being done today will begin to bear fruit down the road.
85 Posted 26/07/2021 at 16:14:26
Which isn't a complaint, it's a reality.
I don't think I've missed something, but Osman isn't involved in the coaching staff is he? I wish he was.
86 Posted 02/08/2021 at 22:36:13
As for only producing Tom Davies, that's incorrect. It has produced the following:
2021: Thierry Small, Tyler Onyango, Nathan Broadhead
2020: Anthony Gordon
2019: Kieran Dowell
2018: Harry Charsley, Jonjoe Kenny, Morgan Feeney, Beni Baningime, Alex Denny, Fraser Hornby
Small and Onyango got a few minutes against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup.
Broadhead – do we really think he is good enough? I personally would not have given him another year.
Gordon? Let's see... a few games is all he has had.
The rest you name all at best 1 or 2 except for Baningime (who was unlucky with us but will do well at Hearts) and Kenny who, whenever he has been given a first-team chance has not excelled. Not good enough.
You need to produce players who get games and can deliver – not just get one or two games or a few minutes. It's about producing players who can really become part of the first team not bit-part players at best.
I do agree with you about the next crop of kids, though, which I do mention near the end of the article. I especially think Whitaker has got a chance.
But we did have the so-called golden generation of Davies, Dowell, Keeny, Fenny, Connolly etc and that got us nowhere as we failed to bring them on.
Let's hope this crop does not go the same way...
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.