Everton lambs defy the slaughter at Chelsea

Lyndon Lloyd 16/12/2021 156comments  |  Jump to last

Were Everton’s game against Leicester going ahead on Sunday, we might have got an insight into the fitness of the likes of Demarai Gray, Salomon Rondon and Fabian Delph and why they were missing from the party that travelled down to London today for what looked like Mission: Impossible against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

There were rumours earlier in the week that, along with more obvious potential absentees in the form of Allan and Seamus Coleman, Rondon might be a doubt for this one but it was certainly a surprise when the matchday squad was announced an hour before kick-off and the names of Gray, Delph and even Cenk Tosun were missing. In their place, Rafael Benitez’s team sheet was stuffed with five teenagers players 20 or younger, a couple of second-stringers like Alex Iwobi and Jonjoe Kenny and a substitutes’ bench boasting two goalkeepers and the afore-mentioned Brazilian and Irishman, both of whom would only be used in an emergency.

Given that the news that the Premier League’s decision to postpone the Leicester fixture was only confirmed right when the team news was announced, a cynic might surmise that, with a busy schedule ahead, Benitez had written this game off and decided to field the kids in one of Farhad Moshiri's expected losses (and one less to pin on the manager) to give them a bit of experience.

Amazingly, despite being thrown to the lions, Everton’s sacrificial lambs turned in one of the most pride-inspiring performances yet seen under the Spaniard and not only held the title hopefuls and reigning European champions to a draw but, having been on the ropes but unbowed in the first half, with a bit more composure in the final third could have sprung the ultimate surprise and taken all three points in the second half.

Even at full strength, most Evertonians would have been expecting to lose a match on the home grounds of one of the best sides in Europe; with Ellis Simms making his full senior debut, Kenny deputising at wing-back in a bottom-heavy five-man defence and Jarrad Branthwaite starting for only the second time this season, it had the air of a slaughter before kick-off. What followed was a lot of what had been expected under Benitez when he took charge — a solid game-plan, disciplined, organised defending and offensive threat on the counter-attack — but which has been so sorely lacking.

And to their tremendous credit, it was the kids who led the way in what ended up being a magnificent backs-to-the-wall performance and, if anything, it was the more experienced heads — the brilliant Jordan Pickford aside — who let the team down. André Gomes, a liability outside his own penalty area and a player who is never a holding midfielder, was clumsy and profligate with the ball until he was substituted after Chelsea’s goal went in; Mason Holgate at times exhibited more of the brainless play that has made supporters so sceptical of his ability to hold down a regular first-team place when everyone is fit; Iwobi was just maddening; and it was Abdoulaye Doucouré’s abysmal decision-making that led to Mason Mount’s opener.

It would be really harsh to criticise the Frenchman too much, though, given how important he was to the overall display and the result itself which will hopefully provide an enormous boost to squad morale while also giving Benitez a valuable insight into the young talent that he possesses and yet has been so reluctant to use before this evening.

Though Chelsea were missing a handful of players themselves — Mateo Kovacic and Ben Chilwell were already ruled out when Chelsea learned that Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi had all returned positive results for the coronavirus while Kai Havertz was isolating while he waits on a Covid test of his own — Thomas Tuchel was still able to field a dauntingly strong line-up and they dominated the first half without making the breakthrough that a succession of good chances suggested they would.

If the mis-match in quality invoked a sense of inevitability about the destination of the points, the pattern of the first 45 minutes seemed to reinforce that. Reece James and Mount both narrowly missed the target inside the first eight minutes and Pickford made a good stop to keep Christian Pulisic's heel-flick out in the 11th minute.

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Hakim Ziyech almost punished Mason Holgate for an errant header shortly afterwards and the Morocco international forced another save from Pickford after he was picked out in the centre by a low cross from Marcos Alonso before dragging another effort wide later in the half following a one-two exchange with Pulisic.

While Everton would have just one sight of goal when Gordon fired a tame effort that Eduard Mendy safely gathered, Chelsea looked to have taken the lead seven minutes before the break when Antonio Rudiger prodded the ball into the path of Mount who just had to beat Pickford but the England goalkeeper made a smart save with his foot to keep it goalless at half-time.

More of the same was expected after the break and Pickford was called into action again to tip a deflected Mount shot behind before Ruben Loftus-Cheek spurned a free headed chance that bounced off shoulder and over the bar.

However, Everton grew more adventurous on the counter-attack and with more composure in the final third, they might well have scored first. Alex Iwobi wasted a great chance on the break when he elected not to play Doucouré in through the heart of the Chelsea defence in the 53rd minute.

Ben Godfrey then scuffed a half-chance at the goalkeeper a few minutes later while Rudiger could only head a free-kick wide of the back post at the other end before Benitez made the first of three changes he would make on the night.

Simms had toiled with no service at all against Rudiger and Thiago Silva and was replaced by the more mobile Lewis Dobbin but it was one of the older heads giving up possession during another promising counter-attack that led to the hosts opening the scoring with 20 minutes to go.

Doucouré chose the wrong option in turning inside and his attempted pass was cut out allowing Chelsea to quickly counter, James to slide the ball in to Mount and he rammed it past his international team-mate from close range.

Benitez immediately withdrew the ineffective André Gomes for Jean-Philippe Gbamin but it was a foul on the ever-willing Gordon that set up the equaliser for Everton. Gordon took the set-piece himself, swinging a sumptuous ball to the back post where Branthwaite timed his run well and guided it deftly inside the post with an out-stretched leg.

Needing to score to keep pace with leaders, Manchester City, Chelsea pushed for a winner in the closing stages and looked to have secured the points when the unmarked Thiago Silva met a corner from the Londoners' right but Pickford did superbly to get down and push it around the post.

At the other end, Dobbin took one touch too many in the box and was closed out as Everton threatened on the break once more but it was back down the other end where the Blues completed the job by holding firm in defence to take the draw.

It’s perplexing that it took such a makeshift, youthful line-up to finally get the manager to successfully implement his chief — perhaps his only — game-plan but it worked in the most trying of circumstances. How much less painful might the Merseyside derby have been had the Blues been as hard to play through as they were in the second half at Stamford Bridge? (The first half was, in truth, a little uncomfortable given how susceptible Everton were through midfield and particularly down the right side of defence.)

Tonight also added to the mystery and frustration around Benitez’s refusal to throw Dobbin, with all his running, nuisance-making and youthful exuberance, on at Brentford the other week when Everton were so bereft of inspiration and ideas. And why was Simms not given any serious minutes before being thrown into the starting XI against one of the best defensive trios in the league?

They are questions for the manager but for Evertonians, particularly the committed souls who made a third successive trip down to London and finally witnessed a performance worth cheering for, there is at least some pride in the team, the like of which only Gordon has really been worthy in recent weeks.

The teenager has grown in stature over the past few games; the only one to brave irate supporters at Brentford and there again to hear the cries of frustration from a lone fan at the end of the derby massacre at Goodison. His name was sung with gusto by the away fans this evening and encapsulated therein was the kind of spirit of the Blues that should carry this dysfunctional and injury-ravaged team to safety this season.

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Si Pulford
1 Posted 17/12/2021 at 21:36:06
Great report. Gordon has grown so much this season.
Brent Stephens
2 Posted 17/12/2021 at 21:45:54
It's great to read to read another report on the game. You know what's coming - the Gordon free-kick, the Branthwaite goal. But it's still like "seeing" it for the first time - oh the emotion.

"And to their tremendous credit, it was the kids who led the way in what ended up being a magnificent backs-to-the-wall performance and, if anything, it was the more experienced heads — the brilliant Jordan Pickford aside — who let the team down." I'd exclude Michael Keane from that.

Tony Everan
3 Posted 17/12/2021 at 22:30:06
Great report as always, Gordon was impressive, a new level of confidence yesterday. I like the “I'm a scouser, we don't back down to anybody” comment. Certainly wasn't overawed and went toe to toe with the likes of Jorginho.
(Lyndon, a correction: he is an ex-teenager, 21 in February).

Keane and Pickford gave it all for he cause yesterday, great to see them two on top form.

Back to the young guns, Branthwaite, what can you say? 19 years old and looked at home yesterday. A sight to behold watching him striding out of defence and the Chelsea midfield scrambling to stop him.

Simms did what he was asked to do well, made a nuisance of himself and gave us some welcome breathing space now and then. Did a better job of it than Rondon on the whole. Dobbin also staked a claim to be used more often, probably from the bench. His pace and willingness to close down defenders will be a useful asset.

Ideally we build on it at Burnley on Boxing Day (if that match is on). As we know from experience, that is easier said than done.

But with some injured players returning, a bit of confidence gained, Gordon and Branthwaite adding youth, quality and burning desire to the line-up, optimism is back on the menu.

Danny O’Neill
4 Posted 17/12/2021 at 23:10:20
We went in with a plan and grew into that game. Although always up against it, we grew in confidence. We fought, worked hard and kept our concentration.

I won't repeat myself from Michael's thread, but interesting that maybe the manager is putting his stamp on the players he has available as well as considering what he may want to shift on and those he wishes to bring in next month.

We couldn't have asked more from them last night and to see the players and fans united in the way they were at the end was emotional and spoke volumes. But then I'm emotional when it comes to Everton!

But even when we went behind, the general consensus around me was that you could not fault them for effort and commitment, even had we lost. That's what I like about true Evertonians and football fans. You can take a defeat as long as you have walked off the pitch knowing you couldn't have given any more. Last night, the team gave everything. As did the magnificent support.

Marching down the Goodison Road. Or Fulham Road as it was last night!!

Jerome Shields
5 Posted 17/12/2021 at 23:20:35
The team was selected early in the week and the game plan was worked on, with everyone coached on what their job was. Benitez talking to individual players. Set pieces where practiced both on how to defend and take. The actual goal the result of a well rehearsed move. Delph found himself sidelined and Coleman was encouraged to rest. IMO he looked concerned rather than celebrately at the end of the game

The difference is that the players where motivated and worked hard this week. Some of the senior players just went through the motions as usual, but found themselves in a team that was demanding a high level of competence on the pitch. . Because of injuries the group dynamics of the training group was changed and the norms of competence were lifted.

This will not go unnoticed by Benitez and the so called indespensible injured players, will be thinking that getting into the first team is not automatic. Doucoure will be tackled about his mistake, the only glaring one in the game. Normally there alot more than that.

Suddenly there is competition for positions, which will increase with the transfer window. Players that will work for Benitez, according to him. Players will have to work hard on their recovery, since with possible canceled matches, they could be fighting for their place in January.

The other change is that Benitez is not going anywhere and being on the wrong side of the argument at Finch Farm, of should he stay or should he go, will not be a good idea.

Benitez was right to lay the gauntlet down early at Everton, making changes and demanding improvement. It a long way to the end of the season and from the saving grace of the Summer break. Players will have to put in the effort and work to ensure they have a future at Everton at the end of this season.

That performance and higher than normal level of competence against Chelsea was no fluke.

Brendan McLaughlin
6 Posted 17/12/2021 at 23:36:21
Jerome #5
Your slur on Seamus is despicable...he was like a motherhen...willing the young guns onto success. You were obviously coached differently...different, not better mind.

Andrew Keatley
7 Posted 18/12/2021 at 00:36:03
“… and it was Abdoulaye Doucouré’s abysmal decision-making that led to Mason Mount’s opener.“

I don’t agree with this Lyndon, and here’s why:

Doucouré carried the ball forward brilliantly, surging past Jorginho from midway inside our own half, and getting to the point where we essentially had a 4 (Doucouré, Gordon, Iwobi and Dobbin) v 3 (Thiago, Azpilicueta and Ruduger).

Gordon makes a good initial forward run to the left, then checks back to provide a safe option, drawing Azpilicueta wide. Great.

Iwobi heads wide right, giving Rudiger the potential headache of whether to go with him or stay more central to cover Dobbin. Great.

But Dobbin makes a nothing run, he just jogs forward and he’s suddenly five yards behind the play. By the time Doucouré tries to squeeze a pass over to him it is too late and Thiago engages him and manages to block the pass. Not so great.

If Dobbin makes a purposeful run, either inside Thiago or outside him, then Thiago has a huge problem, as does Rudiger, and the move is likely to continue with more options and space for Doucouré. But that didn’t happen. So for me the blame for the breakdown of the move and the turnover of possession lies more at the feet of Dobbin than with Doucouré.

Jamal Paktongko
8 Posted 18/12/2021 at 05:43:28
I just realized that out of the 11 starting eleven, 8 of them were British that speaks British

Maybe that is another factor cause our team can communicate better since they speak the same language and accent (Cockney)

Plus, British players have no where to go but stay in Britain

The foreign imports can always leave and go back to where they came from

So, they are more motivated to perform on the field

Just my two cents

Sean Roe
9 Posted 18/12/2021 at 06:59:03
After reading various reports and seeing various interviews I have mixed feelings about the game.

Firstly, I take nothing away from what was a committed performance by the team and a very good point away from home against potential league champions. The young players in particular and Pickford deserve a lot of credit.

On the other hand, acting like we've won the league (which is how it's portrayed in the papers/interviews) is way over the top in my opinion. The effort that went in to that match should be the minimum requirement from every player that steps over the white line in every match, it shouldn't need over the top applauding that the players look like they could be bothered for once. Adulation should be given at the end of the season when/if the minimum requirement of effort is fulfilled in all 38 games, regardless of results. Nobody can ask for more than somebodys best after all.

Does everybody in your workplace clap and cheer every morning because you could be bothered to turn up?

Yes it was a nice point away from home but will the effort be there in the next game, or the game after?

Laurie Hartley
10 Posted 18/12/2021 at 07:50:37
I think Iwobi made the worst mistake of the night when he failed to make the simple 10 yard pass to Doucoure that Lyndon mentions.

No excuse for it - he had no one near him and neither did Doucoure who would have been one on one with the goalie. That would have given us the lead and put enormous pressure on Chelsea.

I could and would have made that pass.

Danny O’Neill
11 Posted 18/12/2021 at 07:56:06
I don't disagree on the effort and minimum requirement aspect Sean. But a combination of not having enough players of a certain standard, a paper thin squad hit by injuries, youth and, well, just football, means it's hard to hit those levels of commitment every week.

What we need are more better quality players and more of them. That's not happening in short time, so best we enjoy the rollercoaster ride. Certainly for this season. I've no doubt that for every Chelsea and Arsenal, we'll match it with a Brentford and Palace.

Jerome Shields
12 Posted 18/12/2021 at 08:09:38

You obviously think the reason why Everton have had no backup at right back, a requirement everyone has known is necessary for three seasons, is only because they failed to source one and Kenny was not up to the job. You are entitled to your opinion. By the way I think that Seamus in his day was one of the best Ireland International players.

John Keating
13 Posted 18/12/2021 at 08:51:02
Based only on the Chelsea game, Branthwaite has to partner Keane in the middle, he gives far more balance being left-footed. He will make mistakes, everyone does, but as many as Holgate? Doubtful.

I'm not sure what happened to Holgate, so much promise and then started to believe the hype I suppose. If Man City offered the rumoured £100 million for him, I'd take it.

Playing up top by himself against Chelsea's top class defenders, Simms did himself no harm and surely deserves another shot rather than Rondon.

Dobbin, if he doesn't go down the Holgate route, looks a fantastic prospect. Why have we allowed his contract to run so far down? He's been talked about for months and should have been signed up months ago.

Gordon is getting better every game, just needs goals. Starter now for sure.

In my opinion, the priority this window has to be a creative midfielder. We can make do with Coleman and Kenny at right-back, Godfrey and Digne at left-back.

Sean Roe
14 Posted 18/12/2021 at 09:03:16
Danny, it just really annoys me to watch some of our present bunch swanning around the pitch like they couldn't care less.

Steven Naismith used to get slaughtered for not being good enough, despite being played out of position more often than not. Okay, he wasn't the most technically gifted player but could anybody ever accuse him of lack of effort?

I would give anything to have him playing out of position on the right side of our midfield right now.

Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 18/12/2021 at 09:18:18
I agree Sean and there is no excuse for lack of effort. It's the minimum expectation.

Yes, there are always going to be one or two who don't want it, but I would say that the majority of players walk on to a pitch with desire and intent to give their best. It's just sometimes all those factors I mention play a part in giving the perception of lack of effort.

You can have an off day, sometimes the mind may be willing, but the body won't respond etc. I've been there myself.

With our thin squad and injury list, there are going to be times we just run out of gas as a collective. I'll use Duncan's tenure. I would have been interested to see how long a disjointed squad like ours could have kept that going if he'd have got an extended run as they were running on fumes by his last game. In the modern top flight game, you need depth of squad to play with that level of intensity every week.

I'm not trying to excuse, I'm just playing Devil's Advocate and suggesting that's the reality of where we are in my opinion. Scratched record / stating the obvious time; we need better players and more of them.

But your principle point is sound. No excuse for lack of effort and that's what the supporters responded to on Thursday.

Fasten you seat belt Sean!!

Dale Rose
16 Posted 18/12/2021 at 09:39:14
Holgate produced some good work at times. I think he is a player who if he concentrates, will deliver what the fan base expects of him.
Danny Baily
17 Posted 18/12/2021 at 10:04:13
Dale, the likes of Holgate and Kenny are poor players. I'm pleased we've got them in the squad, but wouldn't want to see them called into action on a regular basis.
Darren Hind
18 Posted 18/12/2021 at 10:11:56
Holgate was beaten by a sublime piece of skill early doors. He was up against genuine trickery for 20 minutes or so and did what he needed to do by stopping them in their tracks and bringing them down. We need more of that, not less.

I'm sick of nice Everton defenders letting their opponents run past them. He weathered his own particular storm and went on to have a fine game. That's why he will continue to play.

This "red card waiting to happen" continues to be the "culprit" despite the numerous goals given away by the other defenders. I don't think he'll care about that though.

Dave Abrahams
19 Posted 18/12/2021 at 10:15:14
Danny (17), I think the more these two players get a game the better they will be. Lyndon makes the point that it was only Branthwaite's second start of the season but he has played for the U23s. It was only Jonjoe's second start of the season and he hasn't played any other serious football, but he came in and had a good steady game.

I mentioned on another thread the two very good chipped passes he made in the second half when we were under heavy pressure, passes that went straight to an Everton team-mate in loads of space who were able to carry on the move.

Lyndon also puts Jonjoe in the same bracket as Iwobi, second stringers. Well, Iwobi gets chance after chance and is half-hearted while Jonjoe rarely gets a game but would run through a brick wall for Everton, but is seldom asked to.

Brian Harrison
20 Posted 18/12/2021 at 10:16:46
Lyndon I agree that Benitez picked the youngsters believing this was a lost cause, but being the cynic I am and my opinion of Benitez, I believe he threw the kids in to try and highlight how little there was coming through from the academy. He has successfully removed the DOF and the head of sports science so, as Carragher told us, the U23s will be next.

So what better way of demonstrating that than by throwing a bunch of kids together, who he expected to get beaten easily. Then, when it comes to the overhaul of the U23s, nobody can say he hasn't tried any of them.

I know many will back Benitez, saying this club needs overhauling from top to bottom, but his primary job is to make the first team successful first. But that's not his style, he is a control freak and, like all control freaks, demands ultimate power. Also, like most control freaks, he will always look to blame others when things go wrong.

Tony Abrahams
21 Posted 18/12/2021 at 10:34:18
A different type of control freak has been at Everton for years, even getting away with many outrageous lies throughout his very, very, very unsuccessful long tenure.

Get out of our club said the banner at the front of the lower tier, sack the board, said the other one at the front of the upper tier. Two divisive people, but only one of them knows how to be successful in football.

Danny O’Neill
22 Posted 18/12/2021 at 10:38:42
As I said on the other thread, I can't really criticise any of the players for Thursday. Football is a game of mistakes and that's inevitable in any game, let alone when you're up against one of the best teams in Europe and current European Champions who are genuine contenders for the Premier League title.

It would be harsh to single out errors. The level of concentration required by a patched up team from a thread bare squad, void of confidence and, yes, not close to the same quality as the opposition, meant it was going to take a sterling effort to keep them out. And we got it.

I said Holgate was wobbly early on, but look at who he and the rest of the defence were up against. And he settled. Kenny; I'm just pleased for the lad. Considering he's been in limbo and passed from pillar to post, not knowing where his future lies for the best part of 2 seasons having operated under about 5 different managers in that period, he could be forgiven for his confidence being totally shot. But he stood up and that meant a lot to him. You saw that at the end. First to the travelling masses with his shirt.

Like most, I'll criticise players when I feel appropriate. I'll judge them on my view of their ability. I get the sentiment about quality of the squad in general and individual players. That's something many of us have been banging the drum on for a while. But I can't fault any of them for Thursday.

Michael Kenrick
23 Posted 18/12/2021 at 11:52:54
Re Dobbin's contract: "Why have we allowed his contract to run so far down? He should have been signed up months ago."

His contract has not "run down". It still has over 6 months to run, which is pretty standard.

He might have been offered a new contract last season but, bugger me, he was out with a serious knee injury for a large part of the season. Perhaps the club did the right thing for once in waiting to see how well he recovered. Everton have been slated plenty in the past for giving long contracts to up-and-coming youngsters who then fail to make it at senior level.

But Dobbin went on to prove the extent of his recovery by banging in three hat-tricks in pre-season games. So the club then appears to have done exactly what would be expected in such circumstances, putting a contract offer to the player earlier this season.

The player has not yet accepted. But the player still may not accept it. That is their right. Other clubs will know the situation and some may have made very tempting offers. The idea that the club can unilaterally tie players down under the current competitive circumstances is, er, one-dimensional thinking.

It would be good to think Dobbin is more convinced now that Benitez will play him... and that is the real issue. If he doesn't see a decent path to the first team – and frankly it hasn't looked that good under the arch-conservative until Thursday's possible one-off opportunity for the youngsters – then he would be daft not to hold off and assess his options... some of which could be very tempting.

Christopher Timmins
24 Posted 18/12/2021 at 12:17:11
It's glaringly obvious that the squad lacks the quality to match the better teams over the course of the season. That has to be down to the recruitment over the period of the new owner. What we are entitled to expect, week-in & week-out, is maximum effort.

From what I have seen over the past two months our problems are more down to quality than effort.

We have a very stubborn manager who will do it his way and he is not that worried what anyone else thinks. The next couple of weeks will be decisive as to where we are likely to finish at the season end. Hopefully, the gains from Thursday night will help to ensure a 14 points or more haul from the next 8 games and when we play Man City at home in late February we will be looking at a mid-table finish.

Just one point re the use of younger players, I have no doubt that the previous manager would have sent Gordon, Simms and Branthwaite back out on loan during the summer, so give the current manager some credit for keeping them as part of the first-team squad.

Russell Smith
25 Posted 18/12/2021 at 12:31:16
The last two control freaks we had as managers were Harry Catterick and Howard Kendall, not that Rafa Benitez can be compared to either (yet).

Just finished reading the excellent “Boys from the Blue Stuff” and the similarities between Kendall's first 2½ years and our current situation is startling, including flags being waved to get him sacked. And Catterick was also not universally loved by Evertonians.

Whilst Benitez would not have been my choice, he may just be the painful catalyst that actually brings about the changes that we have needed for the past 27 years.

In respect of the Chelsea game, we could have been 3 down in the first 12 minutes but for some poor finishing and Pickford. But the longer the game went on, the better we became in holding our shape. One thing that does grate on me is that, last season when we conceded free-kicks near our box and corners, we set up with 4 players across the 6-yard box and 4 players across the penalty spot; all the “experts” said this was wrong, we should defend higher along the edge of our box. We didn't concede a single goal from a free-kick last season and only a couple from corners.

This season, we seem to be following the perceived wisdom of lining up along the edge of our box, and zonal marking at corners, and look like conceding at every time. How many times has someone had a free header or shot at the far post this season?

Silva had one on Monday which Pickford saved. Last season, the furthest players in the two banks of 4 covered the far post much better because they started wider. Surely this is something that can be coached (just like last season)?

Jamal Paktongko
26 Posted 18/12/2021 at 13:24:10
After watching the game for the 3rd time, here is my take:

1) Our guys spooked themselves a little bit giving Chelsea an advantage.

2) Had we been a bit more confident, Chelsea would not even get a shot at goal.

3) The chances that Chelsea got were more like we afforded to them by us due to us spooking ourselves into thinking that Chelsea were superior to us.

4) It was helped by the fact that Gomes didn't do his defensive duties. He was supposed to break up plays and feed the forwards defense-spliting passes down the middle but he failed at both. In fact, he acted more like a defender and didn't create anything of any significance in terms of chances.

5) Gordon is world class. He went eyeball to eyeball with everyone in a blue shirt... and they all blinked. He has no fear, that scouser.

6) Jarrad Branthwaite was the height in the centre of defense and suddenly corners are not a problem to us at all. Why oh why we didn't play him early on, I just don't know. He is the answer to our defensive problems. We won't have any defensive problems anymore if he is played.

7) The Chelsea goal could have been prevented if Godfrey had thrown himself onto the path of the ball.

8) If we didn't spook ourselves going into the game, we could have scored two or three more easily.

9) Lewis Dobbin is our future star striker. And Simms seems to hold the ball well in case we need to play a lone striker upfront. We can rely on them and it's time for Rondon to leave for a Championship team.

10) If Benitez had played this team vs Palace, Brentford, Watford, we would have won them all.

Against Liverpool and Man City, we would have given them a run for their money.

11) Deadwood we need to be rid of: Tosun, Gomes, Iwobi.

Mina is good but prone to injury

12) Jonjoe Kenny is our answer at right-back. He played Chelsea into the ground.

Jerome Shields
27 Posted 18/12/2021 at 13:35:59
It occurred to me that the problem at Everton is the same as a lot of amateur football clubs that many of us have experienced either as victims or culprits. In clubs, you get dominant players who basically are control freaks. They have been good in their day and probably have big repudations among the fans, parents and general hanger ons.

They like to play on beyond their best football years and will not give way to anyone coming in. They start to help out the manager and coaching. They start managing the schoolboys eventually managing the first team. Then they get elected onto committees with their mates. Keep their mates in positions, eventually making them chairman.

All great stuff as the club starts to slip down the divisions, no competitions won. If one is won at any level, they are in there in the limelight. No-one is good enough to join them, the player selection has a fair bit of connections involved.

There are various attempts, people give up, to get rid of them, to get the club sorted

Andrew Keatley
28 Posted 18/12/2021 at 13:44:13
Jamal (26) - There’s getting carried away and then there’s this post of yours. I’m all for getting excited but try not to scare the horses…
John Boon
29 Posted 18/12/2021 at 14:47:44
I have watched the Chelsea game twice, with some parts even more. Some, so called pundits, make a point that Chelsea were missing some of there stars and on top of that did not play well. What a joke !! Our fresh young team did not allow them to play well. In this game we needed to defend and hustle and we did.

Some posters have pointed out that young players are inclined to be inconsistent. May be so but some of our more "mature" players are only consistent in their regular poor displays

The Chelsea game at least gave a less gloomy picture for the future. I will be delighted to see "ALL" our younger players given a decent chance to prove themselves. It is not easy to play in the Prem and fans need to be patient.

Gordon is a good example of how it can take time to develop. Posters all see things in their own way and nobody is wrong in what they see. We all have our favourites. Personally I still see something in Iwobi, but it may take a "Master" coach to get the best out of him.ALL players have to have thick skins but young ones are particularly vulnerable and more susceptible to criticism.

We lost Small to another team and I do not want to lose the likes of Dobbin, Branthwaite or any of the others due to the fact that they do not see a future at Everton. We all need to support players to get the best out of them

Niall McIlhone
30 Posted 18/12/2021 at 15:15:57
Thanks Lyndon. What a difference a (hard fought) draw makes? It matters not that Chelsea should have been out of sight by half time. What matters is that the team showed discipline, shape, and desire, which clearly resonated with the fans. I personally feel the game on Boxing Day will be postponed, if so, that allows the manager quite a lot of time to work o tactics and hopefully get DCL, Richalison and Mina closer to match fitness in time for the Newcastle game.
Phillip Warrington
31 Posted 18/12/2021 at 15:26:20
This is what should have happened at the start of the season. Inject the team with some speed, guile and youth – and not no speed or guile and aged.
Jamal Paktongko
32 Posted 18/12/2021 at 15:49:37
Another note:

Gomez was the under-performer.

His job was to disrupt the opposition's play in the middle of the park.

After that, feed the ball to Gordon on the left or to Iwobi or Simms on the right or to Dacoure in the middle

But he didmt trouble the oppositon one bit and its as if he didnt exist there the entire game.

If it was Jamie Mac playing there, Chelsea would not have been so advanterous since losing the ball in the middle of the park would mean Everton would bw able to launch a counter attack almost immediately

Jamal Paktongko
33 Posted 18/12/2021 at 16:16:11
1) I haven't discounted Holgate yet. He may have been sloppy a few times but its because of his passion for the game as opposed to the other seniors who are just going through the motion

2) Time we give Jonjoe a chance. He is young and energetic and he put in a superb performance

3) We need to buy that Booja dude now playing for the Saints

4) I'm partial to bringing back Lookman but not Barkley

5) Need to give some time to Begovic in case Pickford gets injured like.last season

6) I doubt Calvert Lewis will be making any significant contribution this season. So need to give Simms and Dobin more minutes.

Neither will Yerry Mina.

7) Dobins reminds me of Vaughn

8) Benitez should play those whom.he is sure will.be giving their 100% on the field regardless how much they are paid

Si Cooper
34 Posted 18/12/2021 at 22:25:42
A good result from a rugged battling display. Some promising aspects but let’s not get carried away.
To single out one player as ineffective when Chelsea had something like 80 percent possession is bizarre especially as not that much went straight through the middle.
Branthwaite is one for the near future but should still be only one of a number of options at a club our size. I think it would be rushing him to have him as an automatic starter.
Ben Godfrey got caught ball watching for their goal and his head really seemed to drop until we equalised. A reminder that the young guys probably haven’t learnt to automatically shrug things off yet and would be susceptible to really feeling the pressure if they are constantly in the firing line.
I think Anthony Gordon is developing nicely and he’s been used as an option from a pool of players rather than put under needless pressure.
Brendan McLaughlin
35 Posted 18/12/2021 at 23:33:22
Dunno Jerome #12
But "Back Benitez & Save Everton"...so why does the Saviour keep picking the mistake riddled right back when he's fit?
Brendan McLaughlin
36 Posted 18/12/2021 at 00:00:39
Actually Jerome #27
You were suggesting that Seamus was more concerned about his place in the team than about the result against Chelsea. Might be your level but I'm pretty sure Seamus is a couple of floors above.
Laurie Hartley
37 Posted 19/12/2021 at 00:30:51
John # 29 - I respect you opinions and views but regarding Iwobi I just have to disagree with you. Like you, there was a short period when I thought he might make the grade but that has long since gone.

That missed pass against Chelsea was the final straw for me. No wonder Arsenal were willing to sell him to a rival.

Apart from that, there was much to be happy and optimistic about from the rest of the team. I reckon young Branthwaite and Gordon in particular are going to develop into top players. As well as the skill set, both have got the temperament and attitude required.

Bob Parrington
38 Posted 19/12/2021 at 01:49:45
IMO the two stand-out players vs Chelsea were Pickford and Gordon. Pickford was cool, warm... somewhat imperious and Gordon has improved in leaps and bounds this season. He looked really confident.

Otherwise, an excellent team effort, including the coach etc.

Bob Parrington
39 Posted 19/12/2021 at 01:59:19
Calm not warm!
Kieran Kinsella
40 Posted 19/12/2021 at 03:07:18

Funny you should say that. I was reflecting on the season so far earlier today and had Pickford as the standout tied with Gray. I think Gordon is getting better every week. Partially fitness partially confidence. But a month ago he was battling for a spot with Iwobi. Now he’s head and shoulders ahead. He’s following the DCL route of gradual improvement rather than having a stunning start. But hey we all remember the hare and the tortoise

Ajay Gopal
41 Posted 19/12/2021 at 04:55:00
Kieran, agreed re: Gordon. He has not burst upon the scene like James Vaughan did all those years ago - scoring a sensational goal on his debut. He has had to graft and prove himself to a manager notorious for preferring experience over youth. But he has stuck to his task - he went close to being a hero against Crystal Palace. But for a fine save by their goalie, the game would have been level at 2-2. He got his first assist against Chelsea - a fine delivery on the free kick (won by him), and surely it is a matter of time before he scores his first goal. When everyone is fit (a big IF), Rafa’s preferred front 3 will probably be Richsrlison, Gray and DCL, so he may see less chances, but that should not bother him too much. If he gets his head down and plays to the best of his ability, he will have a stellar career with Everton.
Darren Hind
42 Posted 19/12/2021 at 06:55:31
A packet of fruit pastels to the first guy to tell us who went out and watched Branthwaite and got him signed.
Ajay Gopal
43 Posted 19/12/2021 at 07:21:46
Unsworth, Darren?
Danny O’Neill
44 Posted 19/12/2021 at 08:19:30
Si Cooper, being the season where the phrase "bah humbug" can be thrown around, you've pushed me down that path, although it's because I agree with you.

On one hand, we need to be excited about the likes of Branthwaite, Gordon, Dobbin and Simms. But at the same time tread with caution, let them be managed and let them be developed over time. Like any player, but more so as youngsters, their form will dip and mistakes will happen. But when that does, let's not destroy them.

Just a thought, but maybe in a year or two, we are going to reap the benefits of foundations being laid. Maybe something was or has been going on behind the closed gates of Finch Farm? Dare I say, maybe a certain Mr Brands' restructuring (alleged) will be his legacy rather than the transfer "strategy", in which he suffered from much interference. All in my opinion of course. These things don't happen overnight as we've seen with Thursday's opponents recently.

To my second "dare I say" of the day. This may irk a few, but I tend to agree on Iwobi, which is by default disagreeing with most. I see a player in him. I think that's where a lot of.the frustration comes from. Personal view; I believe he's a victim of not being coached properly as a youngster and during his development. I'd be willing to put one of my £2 bets on him being selected because he was bigger and quicker than the other kids, so looked effective when young. Because of that, no-one took the time to actually coach the more technical aspects of his game. So eventually the impact he could have when young fades away.

Robert Tressell
45 Posted 19/12/2021 at 08:45:58
Agree wholeheartedly Danny. Gordon and Branthwaite are not the finished article. They will make mistakes and have poor games from time to time. It won't all be like the Chelsea game. Sometimes they'll cost us.

But they are big talents and we'll reap the rewards if patient.

That's also why I think Simms is still best on loan in the Championship from January. He did well against Chelsea but he didn't really look like scoring. A few more games like that and he'll be branded the new Rondon or Brett Angell. It would do him a lot of good to score goals with Blackpool again – to help build up some belief and become properly Premier League ready.

Dobbin, because of his pace and versatility, is worth using as a sub later in games. You could see him knicking a few goals in short cameos like that.

And finally, I think we do have Brands to thank for this happy situation where 4 youth players are there or thereabouts – plus a really good number are likely to follow in the next year or two. His recruitment legacy (the aspect without interference) with Branthwaite is already looking good.

Anyone who saw Okoronkwo in the FA Youth Cup will have seen a very tall mobile striker with talent and personality. He could be a seriously good acquisition too.

Jerome Shields
46 Posted 19/12/2021 at 09:09:58
Brendan #35,

It is not just Seamus. At Everton, one-club players have played longer than they should, given 1-year extensions and found a job at Everton, even after a short time away. Such players have a special place amongst fans, the backroom, and internal management. You could blame the parental attitude of the Chairman, who seems to use it to control the club. He recently called us all his 'brothers'.

They are treated differently; their opinions sought and, giving their opinion. They are decent people and are popular. They become part of the fabric eventually, living off past capability and wanting to continue as before. Being allowed to continue though others are more capable. Supported in doing so by comrades. At Everton, this all has been allowed to dominate the club.

To a certain extent, it exists in most clubs. To change all this, an incoming manager has to tread carefully. In Seamus's case, probably they find themselves dealing with an honourable man who will do his best to support them, which is not the norm at Everton. It could be even the case that Kenny is seen as adequate back-up, because he is, but Seamus will be sensitive to replacements, understudies, being dropped, his sub doing better, and will be supported by other players, like Digne, if dropped.

I suppose it is as a result of fear of the unknown, having known nothing else, only football and adulation. Knowing footballing friends who have struggled after football, when asked about International retirement recently, Seamus's attitude was denial and uncompromising – to continue to play on.

When I see errors and loss of football capability, I call them for what they are. It does not mean that I dislike the individual. In Seamus's case, it is the complete opposite. I very much understand when posters are supportive of him. But such is life.

Andrew Keatley
47 Posted 19/12/2021 at 09:23:09
Danny (44),

Iwobi really is a very hard one to get to grips with. I think that technically he is a good footballer. But physically he is a poor footballer. The amount of times he is physically outmanoeuvred, often by players that his frame should be capable of holding his own against, completely infuriates me.

Players like Sadio Mane, Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling regularly win challenges that they look second favourite for because they all innately understand the physical demands of the football pitch, and use their bodies to protect the ball – even if it means their opponent will clatter into them. They all also know how to hunt down the ball well, meaning that the pressure they put on opponents could see them pick a pocket a two multiple times a game.

Iwobi plays as if he's played non-contact football up until very recently, and is still trying to get his head around the idea that tackling is a thing. He looks like he does not back himself to win any challenge. His mentality is all wrong when it comes to competing for the ball, and at 25 years old he is probably unlikely to suddenly transform that part of his game – but he needs to.

Tony Hill
48 Posted 19/12/2021 at 09:47:08
Absolutely right, Andrew @47.

He does have talent and can pick a pass. But he's weak physically and mentally. I've supported him sometimes on here because he's been singled out when others have been at least as bad but I fear he's now a dead loss.

Ian Bennett
49 Posted 19/12/2021 at 10:12:11
We just plainly overpaid for Iwobi. He's never seen being a £35m player. No other team were in for him at that price, and that's been the case on a number of signings.

He has no pace whatsoever. He looked good at times when Arsenal were on song but, at the end of the day, most attacking players would.

I've said it before, but I wouldn't be buying squad players off Arsenal, Spurs etc. You're paying top dollar for rejects.

Jamal Paktongko
50 Posted 19/12/2021 at 10:23:39
Whatever happened to the good old Moyes days where everyone on the field tackles?

Darren Hind
51 Posted 19/12/2021 at 10:30:02
Your fruit pastilles are in the post, AJay
Danny O’Neill
52 Posted 19/12/2021 at 10:38:54
I think you're right, Andrew. Iwobi is probably past the point of no return. I'll revert back to maybe how he was coached (or not) as a youngster being the reason for the talent not being fully realised.
Danny O’Neill
53 Posted 19/12/2021 at 10:39:56
Ajay, don't forget to do the: Can you put a fruit pastille in your mouth and not chew it? test.
Danny O’Neill
54 Posted 19/12/2021 at 10:47:27
Jamal, I get your sentiment in the current climate of instability, but I'm not having "good old Moyes days".

They weren't good. Gradual stabilisation, near misses, Best of the Rest glass ceiling and beating a generation of Evertonians into low expectation days.

That's what I remember.

Robert Tressell
55 Posted 19/12/2021 at 10:52:01
It's interesting with Iwobi. I read one of those detailed player analyses of him on arrival and he was touted as an unsung talented player who through tactical discipline and hard work protected his (left) full-back and provided a lot of assists.

What we see is very different.

What we see is what Andrew describes.

But I get the sense that it's not that he's incapable. I just think it's been ages since his heart was in it and he just can't bear playing for Everton anymore.

He's joined a club in a mess and played in about 5 or more positions - often only to be dropped from right-wingback then to play up-front or left wing or back on the bench.

The failing is not totally with him, but he's obviously not the mentally strongest character and his confidence and motivation is shot.

He probably needs a spell at, say, Fulham to get going again and may yet be a reasonable player. Just not for us.

John Boon
56 Posted 19/12/2021 at 11:06:43
Laurie (34).

I fully understand your scepticism regarding Iwobi. He can really irritate me and I am probably not so forgiving during a game when he does one of his "brain-dead" actions.

It is just that he sometimes shows something that indicates a higher level of ability. I don't know exactly what it is but he is somewhat of an enigma and I still have "some" hopes. I would be delighted if he manages to actually become a good signing. Unfortunately, I would also be surprised...

Tony Everan
57 Posted 19/12/2021 at 11:10:11
Iwobi’s value has declined to about that of a packet of fruit pastilles.

He must get told all the time to be brave, committed and play with intensity. I think he takes the instructions board and really does try to apply them but it is not in his genetic make up. He will always be a similar variation of the player he is now, no matter who coaches him.

I agree with Robert, maybe a spell at Fulham or similar and a good run in a team could see him in a better light. When we have more players back from injury , maybe a new signing, and the likes of Gordon really progressing, Iwobi will become increasingly redundant .

Peter Gorman
58 Posted 19/12/2021 at 11:11:43
John B - his teammates rate Iwobi as the most skillful player in the squad. More so than James Rodriguez last year.

That is probably what you are seeing. But it is completely marred by him being from a football perspective, as thick as pig shit.

Danny O’Neill
59 Posted 19/12/2021 at 11:20:36
Good discussion on Iwobi. No venom, just recognition of the inner ability and balanced views on maybe why that hasn't materialised.

Changing track slightly and just one of my Sunday morning philosophical thoughts as I walked around the park with a coffee and the dog being somewhere out there, not having to concern himself about me and the Leicester match.

I never like to compare players like for like, but I do occasionally draw parallels. Just as I saw a modern day Alan Hansen in John Stones. I compared Allan's style of play and leadership to Peter Reid (I just wish we could have had him a few years younger).

Am I off the mark in comparing the potential and style of Anthony Gordon to Trevor Steven? Especially if played on his natural side, he does, in some ways remind me of tricky Trev. Not all and no 2 players are the same, but I just see similarities.

Darren Hind
60 Posted 19/12/2021 at 11:22:06
Wilf Dixon used to have the players tackling each other in training like they were the enemy. No holds barred.

I know it's a different game today, but I think if Wilf was around today, then detailed analysis of Iwobi during matches would come to the same conclusion as detailed analysis of him in training.

He's a total fanny.

Danny O’Neill
61 Posted 19/12/2021 at 11:34:12
That's an interesting take, Darren.

You either take the modern approach of being cautious so as not to injure players in training or a more traditional one? Personally and these days, to do the former, you need depth of squad.

Simple fact is that injuries can happen anytime even in situations you just wouldn't have expected. I ski a lot and the amount of times I've seen experienced Skiers injure themselves at the bottom of the nursery slope having just negotiated a near vertical black run at high speed is countless. Shit can happen at any time and no player can go out playing or training fearful of being hurt. It's an occupational hazard. I think Iwobi does lack belief and confidence.

To your point though. Modernist protect the players approach to training? Or (to coin an Army phrase); train hard, fight easy?

Dave Abrahams
62 Posted 19/12/2021 at 12:37:59
Regarding Iwobi I go along with Andrew”’s version @ (47), I knew a lad growing up, different sport boxing, this lad came from a boxing family, technically he was very, very good, watching him spar in the ring he looked to be an excellent prospect, I asked my mate about him, my mate was a boxer fighter who went on to fight in the Tokyo Olympics, I said to him what about So and So, he said looks great doesn’t he when he’s sparring? When it comes to the real thing having a go and it’s in earnest he doesn’t want to know, got no bottle.

That sums Iwobi up for me, unless he meets The Wizard of Oz he’ll stay that way.

Brian Williams
63 Posted 19/12/2021 at 12:44:00
Dave I think we've both been saying the same thing about him for ages.
It seems that more and more are realising it about him now.
John Keating
64 Posted 19/12/2021 at 12:49:58
By November 2019 Branthwaite was getting regular games at Carlisle. Celtic, Rangers, Arsenal, Dortmund, Leipzig and Everton, amongst others were all sniffing around.

Everton's presentation and intimation he would get a decent chance of progressing to the first team won his signature. Oh and his cousin is a big Blue.

Like most very promising players around the leagues, he was well known to all the main players early doors.

John Kavanagh
65 Posted 19/12/2021 at 13:50:09
Michael K @23. The situation regarding Dobbin not signing a new contract is maybe down to perceived opportunity, not just wages/contract length. I cannot think of anything more soul destroying to a youngster keen to make his mark than seeing Rondon waddling around the park and having to ask himself 'Am I really worse than that?'

And that's why I would still say goodbye to Benitez, but not because of his RS past. To me, he is simply the Spanish Allardyce. The only way we can ever genuinely progress is by developing academy players supplemented by signing young and ambitious players who have a resale value like Godfrey.

This appears to be how Brands wanted to develop the club, but he was clearly over-ruled by successive Moshiri managerial apponitments and Boardroom interference. If we add more of the likes of Wallcott, Tosun, Rondon, Delph et al by buying players like Ramsey then our only future is as a bankrupt retirement home. Buying in 30 year olds does nothing to move the club forward. Youth team members will be quick to follow Thierry Small out the door.

Necessity being the mother of invention led to the introduction of the kids against Chelsea. My fear is that Benitez will revert to his usual cautious approach and all the momentum gained will be wasted, just like it was after the Arsenal match.

Eddie Dunn
66 Posted 19/12/2021 at 14:04:00
John- this is surely down to short-termism. Managers come in and try to make sure they don't get sacked. Their own records are all they care about ,so the youngsters can sit on the bench and perhaps get a cameo here or there.
It's a results business and our current incumbent has been given the remit(I presume) of preserving our PL status by hook, or by crook.
He was hired by the same guy who employed Allardyce.
The DOF model would/should give continuity and a career path for the young players to progress through to the first team. Now Brands has gone, but his role had been usurped by others who interfered with the whole remit.
I hold judgement on the manager, who might have seen enough from Dobbin, Ellis and Branthwaite to include them even when the senior pros are available. Let's see what Rafa decides.
John Kavanagh
67 Posted 19/12/2021 at 14:23:51
I agree Eddie, which is why I would have given Dunc longer before making a long term appointment with the DoF drawing up a list of candidates instead of Moshiri's panic Allardyce pick, which accelerated our chop and change spiral of decline.

We will have to wait and see whether Benitez has now seen the light, but selections, substitutions and the January window will determine his (and our) fate.

Stephen Vincent
68 Posted 19/12/2021 at 15:01:59
Iwobi for me has had sufficient chances to prove himself and has pretty much failed at every level on every occasion. But, there have been a couple of mentions of him going to Fulham and my mind went back to the first 45 minutes at Fulham last season, when he ripped the Fulham defence apart and I think - maybe. Unfortunately it is just wishful thinking.

Ellis Simms did a pretty good job holding the ball with his back to goal against two of the best defenders in the league. We won't really know much about him until he gets the chance to play on the front foot.

JJK, I thought, all things considered, did all that was asked of him and should be given his chance ahead of Seamus.

Darren Hind
69 Posted 19/12/2021 at 16:15:17
I think we have to be careful with Branthwaite.

When we signed him he was just plain raw. He had made his debut in October and only started 8 more League 2 games in the next seven Months.

In his first interview he said he couldnt wait to get playing for Unsworths under 23 team because he had seen the path of Tom Davies and Calvert-Lewin and he wanted to follow it. Even as a very inexperienced 17 year old from the lower divisions he clearly had a lot of self belief and was clearly ambitious.
When Rhino described his improvement as "Astronomical". Many blues sat up and took notice.

I think the injury he suffered and the loss of form which followed after Carlo had given him a his chance, despite his inexperience, may actually have helped him. His rapid progress had been temporarily Halted. He may have been sent out to learn his trade against the gnarled Journeymen of Div 2, but there has always been a belief in this fella.

Easy does it. We could have another top class youngster if he's handled correctly

Tony Abrahams
70 Posted 19/12/2021 at 19:29:36
I honestly can't take Unsworth seriously, Darren, because he seems to utter so many similar phrases that have been used by Bill Kenwright down the years, mate.
John Raftery
71 Posted 19/12/2021 at 19:31:14
Danny (61)

Your Gordon - Steven comparison is certainly valid. With his pace and willingness to take defenders on, Gordon actually reminds me more of Jimmy Husband. Hopefully Anthony will not have to withstand the physical battering meted out by defenders as a matter of routine in the late sixties and early seventies.

If he can be more clinical in front of goal, he could develop into the real deal. Although he lacks power in his shooting, there seems no reason why he should not score a few from closer range. His play on Thursday and at Old Trafford in early October suggests he thrives on the big stage.

Darren Hind
72 Posted 20/12/2021 at 05:42:02
Don't care what he says, to be honest, Tony. As you well know. They nearly all talk shite.

On this occasion, he was right. From sitting on the bench in League Two to playing in the Premier League in the space of a few months is pretty incredible progress...

Unsworth has also been saying other players were ready for the first team. Three of them played at Chelsea.

To be honest, mate, I'd rather he did big up his players than sit and watch the likes of Rondon, Iwobi get in ahead of them.

I love seeing staff at Finch Farm doing the bare essentials and justify their existence... especially when nobody else at the club can mange to do it.

Danny O’Neill
73 Posted 20/12/2021 at 07:40:32
Great to see potential coming through the academy. Hopefully once we ride the FFP show, we can add to that with a better transfer strategy and have better experience / established players to compliment what we bring through.

Let's see how this bunch fair and as I said earlier, I wonder if we are maybe seeing the benefits of what the DoF was trying to put in place? There seems to have been a strategy of bumping the U18s up to U23s and subsequently younger players to the fringes of the first team earlier than previously planned.

I'm liking Gordon the more I watch him. Branthwaite looks very promising, but is still incredibly young for a centre back, so we need to be patient. I will be.

One that I am really wanting to keep an eye on is young Warrington. Not there yet, but from what I've seen so far, it will be great to bring a central midfielder through who is comfortable on the ball as he is.

I might be being harsh here, but I still feel our academy can do more if it's given the overhaul I feel required. In fact the academy system in general, but that's another debate.

Finishing on a positive, well done to all involved in bringing those young players through to make Premier League appearances. And even more well done to the players themselves.

Derek Knox
74 Posted 20/12/2021 at 08:24:53
Danny, how long have so many been calling for giving the younger players at least a chance, even if only a cameo role off the sub's bench? Hopefully that's now in Rafa's plans, which have been forced to have a re-think, dictated by injuries, that he has finally seen the benefits, and we will see a lot more of it.

People, including myself, were getting so frustrated by seeing the same old, walking football with the same underperforming culprits. Also, I hope that young Lewis Dobbin follows Ellis Simms in signing a new contract!

Tony Abrahams
75 Posted 20/12/2021 at 08:32:32
I've said before, that I think Unsworth would have had more players making the grade at Everton, only for us constantly changing the manager. I was talking to someone very well connected to Everton the other day, and he told me that Unsworth is the man that's been in charge of the academy for years.

When I mentioned Chelsea, this man told me that their coaches and coaching is on a completely different level. So is their first team, I know.

This city has always been a hotbed for football, go and watch some of the young kids battling away in the freezing fog, shirking nothing, and I personally think if these kids got better coaching (instead of being put through an X-Factor wringing process that is academy football) that the rewards could be absolutely massive in the future, such is the talent that is out there right now.

Everton produced a few World Cup winners at Under-20s not long ago, so they were obviously doing something very right. I'd love to see the club take it to the next level, because I honestly don't think it would be that hard to do, given that they have got absolutely everything in place to do this.

Dave Abrahams
76 Posted 20/12/2021 at 10:20:42
Lots of today’s coaches have their coaching badges which is equal to, in my day, their union card, you didn’t have to have any knowledge of the job as long as you had your card.

Did Colin Harvey have any coaching badges? I’m not sure, but he had loads of football nous and knew how to get it across to the young footballers he educated.

Stick your badges if you haven’t got football nous.

Danny O’Neill
77 Posted 20/12/2021 at 10:48:01
Derek, absolutely. Bring them in when they are ready but give them meaningful time to make an impact or impression. Probably for the wrong reasons, but now is the time for some of these youngsters to step up and grasp the opportunity. Ideally, we'd be doing that in a Chelsea scenario, but either way, they now have a chance and have staked their claim.

To Tony's point. We would have more and of a better standard if we'd had better scouts and better coaches in my opinion. Liverpool, Merseyside and the North West is a hot bet of untapped into footballing talent. We should be producing more. And I mean directly coming through at Everton. We should be a machine; a factory.

Dave, I don't care too much for badges. It's the same in any walk of life. I sit and interview people in my current role. They can come to me with certifications all over their CV. I prefer to dig into their experience and background. Anyone can pass a course or take a test in my opinion.

Derek Knox
78 Posted 20/12/2021 at 11:06:59
Danny, your last three sentences are so, so true, but not just in football, too many jumped up wet behind the ears types, have suddenly found themselves in a managerial or post of responsibility, by virtue of having a pretty worthless degree in a subject most have never heard of!

Yet they are making irrational decisions that affect people's lives, and getting paid vast amounts that is over-commensurate for what they do.

Danny O’Neill
79 Posted 20/12/2021 at 11:32:08
Indeed Derek. Brighton home in the New Year?

On Colin Harvey, I was never fortunate enough to have seen him play, but he has me emotional every time I watch Howard's Way. I know I'm overly emotional when it comes to Everton, but he takes it to another level. Has there ever been an Evertonian such as Colin Harvey?

As we're on the subject of the academy, without doing any research, why did Kevin Sheedy leave? He seemed to be doing a decent job and I can't think of many better mentors.

Derek Knox
80 Posted 20/12/2021 at 18:02:51
Danny, Good question regarding Kevin Sheedy, don't know exactly, but I did hear that is was the old behind the scenes interference by our Old Friend BPB and KS constantly being overlooked for promotion etc, in favour of Bill's favourites !

Hopefully someone can fill in the blanks, and fill BPB in, while they are at it ! :-)

Tony Abrahams
81 Posted 20/12/2021 at 18:34:59
I think some people at finch-farm, have never been the same with each other, since Sheedy left Everton, but football is this type of industry imo Derek.
Danny O’Neill
82 Posted 20/12/2021 at 18:41:45
I know we're repeating ourselves here, but if I was going down the route of former relatively recent Evertonians at Finch Farm, it would be Sheedy, Osman and Pienaar for me.

With Colin Harvey in an advisory role.

I know. I ask for too much!!

Tony Abrahams
83 Posted 20/12/2021 at 18:49:03
Just reading about Frank Arnesen, who left Spurs to join Chelsea, after Abramovich, told him to look out of his hotel window in Sardinia, and invited him onto his massive yacht, after he had called him the previous day, to see if he wanted to meet him.

He left Chelsea, in 2011, but it says Chelsea have been in 10 out of the last 13 FA Youth cup finals, which shows how much of a plan their owner had for his football club.

He was frustrated (Arnesen) because not to many of the younger players were progressing through into the first team, but I think his appointment was massive for Chelsea, who now seem to be producing quite a few proper footballers, and I always wonder what little Steven Pienaar, would be like, at developing young footballers, because he always look so very well coached himself?

I hadn’t read your post Danny, and I was also aware that I was repeating myself, but th3 man is working at Ajax, so it’s obvious he wants to stay in the game and coach.

Danny O’Neill
84 Posted 20/12/2021 at 18:54:02
Came through the South African satellite of Ajax Tony then Ajax itself before going to Dortmund before we got him on loan.

Now coaching the youth teams in Ajax's academy.

With that pedigree, I'd say Pienaar knows a thing or two about being coached and how to coach.

Tony Abrahams
85 Posted 20/12/2021 at 19:02:44
I used to love watching him play more than any other Everton player over the last twenty years Danny, because he always used to come towards the ball, which I’d say must have been taught to him at Ajax?

Maybe it was back home in Africa? because he was very small for an African footballer, and he had to rely on his movement, because he wasn’t particularly strong or quick, but he was an exceptional little player imo though, and I’m sure he will have a lot to offer, helping to develop young footballers on the training ground.

Ray Roche
86 Posted 20/12/2021 at 19:04:05
Derek, I read around the time that he went that he left on very good terms at Everton and took a (financial) once in a lifetime offer from a Saudi Arabian club where he teamed with Mike Newell. I’m afraid BPB can’t be blamed for that one!
Darren Hind
87 Posted 20/12/2021 at 19:06:03

Can I ask what you actually know about FF ? Will you share that knowledge with us ?. and What does this overhaul you speak about look like ?

Who is making the changes you speak about and what are they ?.

Danny O’Neill
88 Posted 20/12/2021 at 19:10:26
On Chelsea, it shows how the long-term view can reap benefits.

When I first moved here and as late as 2005, they (first team included) were still using open field pitches down at Harlington near Heathrow. My Hayes & Yeading youth team played down there once or twice. Decent, but still Sunday morning park pitches.

They were transitioning to a new training ground and academy, instigated by Abramovic. That didn't happen until about 2007, when they moved to Cobham in Surrey. They were laying foundations, which it looks like they are now starting to see the benefits of.

They spent for the short-term gain, but in the background they were planning for future sustainment.

Tony Abrahams
89 Posted 20/12/2021 at 19:18:14
Having a plan generally beats everything, and it was interesting to read that Chelsea, have used kids mostly under 20 years of age in their 23 side for years, and this is something Everton have only recently decided to really change, so I hope this benefits our club in the future.

Brian Harrison
90 Posted 20/12/2021 at 19:18:40
Tony 83

Funny you mentioning Frank Arnesen, as I mentioned him some weeks back on another thread. I know many shrewd judges have said that Arnesen was possibly the best at spotting young talent. When he stopped playing Bobby Robson took him on as his assistant manager at PSV. Arnesen was credited at discovering Ronaldo from Brazil as well as Dutch players Japp Stam, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Arjen Robben. So Abramovich knew the quality that Arnesen had of spotting great young talent, so he gave Chelsea the template for producing young players.

I think maybe Moshiri/Usmanov went down the DOF route which would hopefully allow our DOF to do a similar job to what Arnesen had done with Chelsea. They appointed Walsh and then Brands although their brief was much bigger than Arnesons at Chelsea, but maybe the remit to Walsh and Brands should have been to get the best youngsters, rather than looking for possible first team players. Seeing that Unsworth has been credited with bringing in DCL and Branthwaite, maybe we should let him go and scout young talent rather than looking after the U23s.

Brent Stephens
91 Posted 20/12/2021 at 19:22:44
Danny. Sheedy, Osman and Pienaar are interesting shouts. Strike me as players who knew more about what was going on around the pitch than just their own game.
Danny O’Neill
92 Posted 20/12/2021 at 19:23:17
Sure Darren and I'll give you the short answer upfront. I don't know a lot about the goings on at Finch Farm.

To me it's a closed door, behind the fences facility that I don't have access to or visibility of. So, like most, I can only offer opinion based on what I see come out of it. Which, in fairness has been sparse over the past decade. I don't think I'm too different from many in that respect.

I was made up the other night. Thanks to my seat (although I didn't sit throughout the 95 minutes) young Branthwaite slid right in front of me as he celebrated that goal. I was only in row 5 so nearly in touching distance. Just as you do, I want us to produce our own and loved watching them. To repeat. Gordon man of the match easily.

But I'll go back to your point. I don't know the ins and outs of Finch Farm. I have deeper lying opinions on English grass roots football and how it should be overhauled. The likes of Everton and Liverpool sponsoring and supporting local football and not taking kids into the bubble of the academy until they are at least 14. Better coaching rather than focus on pace and power that has beleaguered generations of English football.

I won't go on, but you asked!! I'd need to write a white paper on it, rather than just continuously rant on threads as I tend to. Let me get this season out of the way and I'll give it a go!!

Danny O’Neill
93 Posted 20/12/2021 at 19:31:33
Add on Darren - apologies.

I believe that there were reports (I read) that Brands had been restructuring behind the scenes.

From what I read (not what I know), he apparently bumped up most of the U18s to play at U23 level and this by default bumped up the U23s to either be knocking on the door of the first team or go out on loan.

Someone with more knowledge than me (Robert Tressell) is probably closer to the truth.

It seems to have some validity as we have the likes of Warrington now in the U23s and a lot of young players now closer to the first team or loans.

Tony Abrahams
94 Posted 20/12/2021 at 19:38:41
Good point about Brands, possibly having to much to do Brian. It’s hard to know if Unsworth would be better at finding talent, rather than coaching talent, because he’s also brought a lot of young players to Everton for money, that have failed to make the grade.

It’s a two way street imo Brian, and I’m only now starting to wonder, if it’s having great scouts, or having great coaches, that is more important? (It’s about the players, it always has been!!)

I was talking to someone the other day who knows Wayne Rooney very well, and when I asked him what he thought about him and Duncan Ferguson taking over Everton’s first team, he said he thought it would work.

I said I thought Ferguson, might make the better manager, and I thought Rooney would be fantastic on the training ground, and his answer was that whenever he got talking about football, with Wayne Rooney, he used to just listen, because he said when it comes to footy, then Rooney is very intelligent, and also very astute.

Darren Hind
95 Posted 20/12/2021 at 20:14:20
Brands has been an incredibly costly Joke...Even by Everton standards.

I give him zero credit for any of the players coming through. We know Branthwaite and Calvert-Lewin were signed on Unsworth's recommendations. We know Holgate, Davies and Simms were brought in before he got here...We also know that Gordon and Dobbin were here when they were in short kecks. So what exactly did Brands bring ?

I would actually take it a step further. I would say that by spending around 125m on ordinary players like Mina. Gomes, Delph.Gbamin,Kean and Iwobi. Brands was not only stinking the club out. He was effectively spending a fortune to block the path and limit the opportunity's of the first group..

I think he has had a positive effect on our development. He did that by fucking off.

Tony Abrahams
96 Posted 20/12/2021 at 21:01:36
Money makes you lazy, is something I will always remember Marcel Brands by.
Derek Knox
97 Posted 20/12/2021 at 21:57:39
Ray @ 86, Thanks Ray, you have just ruined my night, I suppose I will have to ask my ' Hit Men ' to stand down, for just now, at any rate ! :-)
Andy Crooks
98 Posted 20/12/2021 at 22:42:08
Of all our squad and every time I see him play, Iwobi looks so close to being really good. And, frankly, looking nearly good means you look shite.
He is talented but shot of confidence. He shows enough to keep getting picked. He nearly, nearly does it but just has no bravado whatsoever.
If we got a run together, built up some confidence, Iwobi can offer us a something special. A roll up your sleeves relegation battle is not going to make him the man to go to. In fact, it will make him the man to run from.
Iwobi is the luxury player's luxury player. If he does thrive it will mean that Rafa is a genius who will save the day.

Tom Bowers
99 Posted 20/12/2021 at 22:47:06
Rooney may make a great addition to Everton's backroom.

He is maybe not a Prem. manager just yet and was given a real pig's ear at Derby (unlike slippy G at Rangers).

However, Rooney has a superb footballing brain even from a young age as we all know and watching him in his final playing year at Derby one could see what he still had to offer.

It may never be that he will not get a role back at Everton but I wish him every success wherever he is as he has been a tremendous goalscorer in the Prem. and elsewhere.

Don Alexander
100 Posted 20/12/2021 at 23:06:19
Our Dazza continues to pronounce that "we all know" that Unsworth rather than anyone else brought various relatively successful youngsters to the club.

Dazza must have 100% insight into the club to say such things, possibly via impeccably "knowing" insiders. It'd also be interesting to learn from Dazza's undisclosed and unbelievable, as yet, as ever, perspective just who was responsible, whilst Unsy was signing the few gems, for signing the players, (pre-Brands) who also cost us seven figure sums and went on to do diddly-squat for the club.

So, Dazza, what is the source of your apparent certainty please, or are you going to say it's not your opinion but "confidentiality" prevents you from disclosing whose opinion it is?

Don Alexander
101 Posted 20/12/2021 at 23:32:17
Moving on, Rooney was a fabulous player but not able to move into "greatness" (think Cruyff, Messi, Ronaldo etc) even in a tip-top successful team like ManU at the time.

To me he really didn't help himself with his off-field behaviour as a player. He was dissolute; a drinker, a smoker and a prolific shagger, all eminently researchable and proved on t'internet, t'internet being at every teen-agers fingertips.

So what would he be like as a manager at Everton, forever espousing to everyone at Finch Farm how much he always "got" Everton and demanding 100% max as a consequence?

In this day and age kids use t'internet to check out the famous. There are few secrets undiscovered. Aberrations, and serious ones at that, are to the fore on it. "Our" Wayne would need to climb a mountain to regain any notion of credible moral high-ground when laying the law down to his players as far as I'm concerned.

A bit like all the other Bill's-Luvvies infesting Finch Farm.

Derek Thomas
102 Posted 20/12/2021 at 00:01:23
Don @ 101; He should be able to play the 'Poacher turned Gamekeeper' card better than any one...The thing is, simplisticly, the ones who might really need to listen and learn - the George Greens etc, of this world, won't listen or learn anyway, which is why they are mentioned as 'the George Greens etc, of this world'

I'm with Dave @ 76; It's just a ticket, a bare minimum...now go away, learn and perfect your trade...'get to know the cries'...as my old boss was wont to say...but not on our dime.

Then, if there is a vacancy, throw your C.V. in the hat.

Darren Hind
103 Posted 21/12/2021 at 06:06:36
Rhino - "I still smile when I think about how we prized him away. Dominic was'nt going to play a big part in trying to get them out of league. Chris (Wylder) decided to go down the experience route. I'd worked with him as a 16 year old. followed him and tried to plot his journey. He went out on two loans (stalybridge and Northampton) and I was absolutely delighted to bring him to the club"

Calvert Lewin - "I had worked with him at sheffield. He always believed in me"

Then there was Branthwaite

Unsworth - "We had watched him and wanted to bring him here"

Branthwaite - talking about DCL Holgate and Davies - "It was a superb route. I cant wait to get started playing for the under 23's. The prospect of working with David Unsworth. All that experience he has can help me. I'm really looking forward to working with him"

Chris Beech (Carlisle manager) -"I have great respect for David Unsworth and Everton. He has done so much for young players. We are a club who offers opportunity. I've been reflecting on that. Everton are involved with Jarrad heading their way"

Most would blues would have read these quotes at the time (although Beech's quote is on the Carlisle website). Their are similar quotes from Brands taking "credit" for the duds he signed. You just need to research them instead of trawling through gossip columns in the rags for mud to sling at Rooney.

The half witted finger-in-the-ear denials and accusations continually spouted by ill informed bile spreaders about FF, belongs more in the baggy than on a footy website.

Danny O’Neill
104 Posted 21/12/2021 at 07:43:16
Anyone brought in by Everton to be a DoF but then not allowed to actually be one was doomed for failure. Brands was the latest fall guy once the heat got turned up. Yes, he had to fall on his sword, but looking deeper, Everton's application of the DoF model plagued by interference at board room level was the costly mistake. Brands was just the figurehead who took the bullet whilst others dodged (again) it so to speak.

Maybe you rate Unsworth Darren, that's fair enough. I just don't think our academy has been as productive as it could be. And maybe that's me having too high expectations or being harsh on the Finch Farm staff, but over the years, we should have been producing more players of a better quality. I'll repeat, I was made up last Thursday seeing those young blues take to the field and perform. Here's hoping that whoever has been laying foundations, we will see them come to fruition. That's what we all want.

Not wanting to piss on anyone's chips, but it was one game, so I'm not getting carried away hence my earlier call for patience. As we all know, for every John Stones or Wayne Rooney, there's a Cadamarteri or three.

Here's one for you and others. James Vaughn? I thought he had something about him. My opinion (for what it's worth); he gave too much. If that is possible and makes sense? He didn't know how to manage himself physically. Basically and literally, he ran himself into the ground resulting in the injuries. Or should he have been managed and coached better??

Don, you send me into a different debate with mentions of Cryuff. There are many genuine great footballers but not so many who deserve the accolade of "world class" despite how it is too frequently banded about. Cruyff, Beckenbauer and Maradona; possibly now Messi in my living time.

And Kevin Sheedy obviously!!!

Tony Abrahams
105 Posted 21/12/2021 at 08:14:15
Can’t argue with you about Rooney, Don, but not many great players, have sacrificed themselves as much for the team, as much as Wayne Rooney, did for Man Utd, and this would have also definitely took its toll on his body.

I still remember him chasing back in a champions league final against a fast Barcelona counter attack, and nudging Messi, in the back, just as the overhit pass had gone out for a United throw-in. Messi turned as if to say, “what’s that for, the ball has already gone out of play” saw it was Wayne Rooney, and just ran away, shaking his head and clapping his hands, and out of all the conversations I’ve had down the years, nobody has ever remembered this.

The best player in the world was shaking his head and clapping his hands, because United’s danger man, was the player who had not only anticipated the danger, but he’d sprinted back to help his team like a lunatic, and my own thoughts on watching, was that Messi, was probably thinking, “if you played for us, there’s no way we would have you doing this type of thing” but Wayne Rooney “always” sacrificed himself for his team, imo.

Danny O’Neill
106 Posted 21/12/2021 at 09:00:34
On a totally different level and scale, but I wonder if my point about James Vaughan has parallels to Rooney?

Didn't look after himself or tried to instinctively do too much, so the legs were gone way too early at the age of 32??

I always remember a match when he'd come back. It was at Goodison and he had pretty much dropped into a right-back position to pick the ball up to then try and carry it forward.

As great as he was, maybe his desire to be near the football, like a 10-year-old, meant he didn't play at the highest levels for as long as his god-given talent deserved?

Darren Hind
107 Posted 21/12/2021 at 18:52:41
So Danny

Having admitted you know absolutely nothing about what goes on at FF. You press ahead talking with authority about It.

I should walk away from this but I'm at a loss as to where you get your information. Who told you Brands wasnt allowed to be DOF ? The only first team signing which don't have his finger prints all over them are the two Carlo brought in - "Cant play and wont play". and you applauded them.

Where did this interference at board level which plagued him come from ? Do you have any evidence to back up you claims ? . Was he not given Carte Blanche to sign these duds ?...

You tell me I rate Unsworth...Thats news to me. I have never seen him work either, but I will refute to the end, the ill informed claims made about him on this website by people who want to exonerate useless managers by pointing the finger closer to home.

I will not go down the rout you take with such was total disregard of evidence or hard fact.
I was challenged to prove he was responsible for signings and I believe I did that by putting up direct quotes. from all parties.
I know he has also won two under 23 titles. I know that despite hundreds of millions being spent on duds. Seven of his players have made the first team already this season and every single one of them will do so again.

Here's something else I know. It is his job to provide players for the first team. Then it becomes the first team managers job to improve them further.

Rather than continue to point fingers at the guy. Why not come up with the name of one single person associated with this club in recent years who has actually saved the club money rather than cost it ? One single name at the club who has brought in players that are now worth 40 - 50 times what we paid for them ?

Good luck with that

Danny O’Neill
108 Posted 21/12/2021 at 19:09:32
Surprised at that outburst Darren.

Speak with authority? Not me. Like most, I just have a view on what I see, read and interpret, then comment. No authority from me.

I don't believe I told you that you rate Unsworth. Not my place to do so, that's your opinion. If I read up the thread, I think I said maybe you rate him. It was as suggestion. An interpretation of some of your previous well thought out comments. I wouldn't tell you anything as you have your own opinion.

The interference piece; again, a view. I do not think Everton implemented the DoF model correctly. And that was over the reign of several managers, not just one. That's my opinion. My view on it.

The academy doesn't come for free. It incurs cost and we pay for it. As we're at it, allegedly one of the first things that Brands noticed was that our academy wages were on a par with the English Championship. I won't reference it or provide a link, but it was in the Athletic; a credible source. The English Championship is probably in the top 10 of salaries in Europe. Those kids, the coaches, the facilities and the infrastructure don't come for free.

Darren Hind
109 Posted 21/12/2021 at 19:25:46
The coaches at FF do do an awful lot better than not come for free. They are the only people at the club to actually swell the coffers. Set aside the seven players who will get more game time.

The two players I provide evidence of (Branthwaite and DCL) cost this club around 2.5m. I reckon they would fetch 100m between them. More with continued progression. That'll keep FF going for years. Those two transactions alone piss all over the anything the Dutch twat wearing the Armani suits achieved.

Its like we support a corrupt charity and you are pointing the fingers at the fund raisers

Danny O’Neill
110 Posted 21/12/2021 at 21:10:01
Reckon they "might" fetch £100m. Do you know that for definite Darren?

Dutch Twat.

You're better than that Darren.

Danny O’Neill
111 Posted 21/12/2021 at 21:32:04
How much have their wages cost?

That seems to be a constant accusation. They haven't come for free. Nor should they. But let's not kid ourselves. They and the Academy costs money.

Guy Rogers
112 Posted 21/12/2021 at 22:45:23
Oh give it up Danny boy, unsworth has clearly made some good signings including DCL and Branthwaite and yes not to hard to believe if they continue to progress over next 12 months then 100m. Unsworth was also operating under a 18 month ban so could have done more.
Re Iwobi had his best game for me in 3-5-2 as wing back, his athleticism seemed to suit the up and down role with not to much thinking with a little bit of trickery thrown in. Although we don't seem to suit this formation would suit our squad with three right wing backs seamus/kenny/iwobi two left wings digne/nkoku And then the pool of 5 centre backs.
Don Alexander
113 Posted 21/12/2021 at 00:00:28
Danny (various) you clearly understand the difference between an opinion and a fact. Sadly our Dazza can't see the difference - to him his opinion becomes fact, and that's all that matters to him. It's been the case for years.

Unsworth's financial and/or skill value to the club is unknowable to us mere opinionators. Not even Dazza, a bloke who just might have a big (necessarily, obviously) framed picture of Big Dave above his bed, knows who he's signed (or let go) entirely off his own bat, or the extent to which he personally has improved youngsters (who will all gush their admiration of all things "Finch Farm, obviously).

To me Unsworth's greatest success has been Tom Davies, a modestly talented squad player. Players like Branthwaite and DCL developed at other clubs until near adulthood so to me it's a bit rich to attribute their worth to Unsworth alone.

That's just my opinion, as I'm sure you'll recognise.

David Midgley
114 Posted 21/12/2021 at 00:18:08
Darren, Danny. " Time gentlemen, please "

Two questions. They may seem simplistic but I would like some answers.
It would appear that Everton were only able to spend in the region of £2 Million in the last transfer window. We couldn't pay big fees and presumably big wages due to FFP. Now we seem to be linked to to several players £15/20 Mill. I know a lot of this is clickbait but what has changed ?
Using any Saturday as a start. After the match finishes at 5, the players shower and assuming they don't have anything seriously wrong with them they go home. Their next game is the following Saturday. From Monday morning arriving at FF to the following Saturday when they play again what does their week comprise of ? Training matches, gym work, coaching, talks etc. Can somebody who knows what their week comprises of please let me know ?
Darren/Danny you're both excused this one.

Kieran Kinsella
115 Posted 22/12/2021 at 05:39:27

You could save yourself trouble by re reading Darrens repeated cycle of posts that always ends with him never answering questions and getting abusive. He rolls out the same scripts once a month.

Darren Hind
116 Posted 22/12/2021 at 05:48:28

You are missing the point entirely.

These two players may not fetch 100m (although I believe the arse would have to fall out of the market for that to happen). Even if they fetched 75m (DCL would fetch that alone) that would still be 30 times what we paid for them. At a club where virtually every signing (500m worth) is devalued in a heartbeat. That is nothing short of remarkable. Yet that is the one area. you Alexander and Kinsella constantly attack. Unsworth`s crime ? He's an ex player.

Short of getting the parties involved to post on TW, I cant provide any more prove than the direct quotes of those concerned. I belief that proof to be irrefutable to all but fingers-in-the-ears merchants.

You, Don Alexander and Kinsella have two things in common. You all regularly attack former players at the academy (although your attacks are nowhere nears as vindictive as their`s) Yet you all freely admit to not having a clue as to what goes on there or who does what. When questioned, none of you can ever offer anything to back up. your claims..Nothing.

Yeah, Everyone has the right to opinion, but if you want that opinion to have any credence at all, It helps your cause if when challenged, you can offer a little more than the dude in the Big Lebowski.
No evidence at all sounds like an agenda rather than an opinion.

You are of course perfectly entitled to continue to exonerate the previous DO'f and Mangers by continuing to point the finger at the academy, but your criticsm needs to be informed. otherwise you will be challenged.

Leave the Dude Lebowski answers - "yeah, it's like my opinion man" to those who don't know any better.... You are better than that

Danny O’Neill
117 Posted 22/12/2021 at 07:29:39
Good Morning all. It's a cold one, but I like a bit of frost. A few responses.

Don - your shout on Davies. I know he's injured, but I wonder what the future holds for him because even before that, he seemed to be out of favour. Or is that just me? I agree on the squad player call, but he did seem to be progressing last season. He seemed to like playing alongside Allan.

Guy - interesting call on Iwobi and 3-5-2 (a formation I like providing you have the right players). For once, I'd go with the players call though; I think he can be more effective in the number 10 position.

David @114: I remain excused for the 2nd question! Thank you as I wouldn't know where to start with that one. I wouldn't have a clue!

Pure speculation and guess work on the first. Maybe the money was there? Maybe the owner's fingers had been burned having given his money to people who mostly spent it like giving me a load of cash to spend in a Las Vegas casino; gone in 30 minutes with nothing to show for it? Maybe he was waiting to see how the next Manager (custodian) faired before opening the purse strings again? Maybe it's on the basis of January outgoings to balance the books? If's but's and maybes and no definitive answer I'm afraid.

Darren, I'm not missing your point and for the sake of balance, I'll acknowledge it. It is a fair point. We could fetch a good amount for them - I'd rather not by the way. But the academy does cost money; that was my point. It's not free. Wages are what adds up over the years, not a one off transfer fee. That's what's been killing us the past few years. Okay, not all the academy, but you know what I mean in the bigger scheme of things throughout the club as you've made that point yourself about the freeloaders you always point to. But apparently our academy players were on pretty decent wages.

Ultimately we all want to produce our own, there's nothing better to see and it's what we all dreamed of as kids.

I don't criticise players, coaches and managers because they are ex-Everton; the fact they are doesn't exempt them from praise or criticism. Not a factor for me. If that is how it comes across, I'll use my language more carefully in future when giving an opinion. But I'm entitled to question the performance of the club we all support and follow. That includes the academy and I do care passionately about youth and grass roots football, so it is probably an area that frustrates me the most.

If I had a clue about anything that actually went on at Everton, I'd have sorted it out 20 odd years ago. As it happens, like the vast majority of us, I can only speculate, comment, hope, get frustrated and ultimately follow.

Don Alexander
118 Posted 22/12/2021 at 17:00:57
Dazza, having named me as one of three alleged "Unsworth denigrators" and challenged us to come up with whatever you personally deem "facts" to justify what I call our "opinions" I just want you read what you typed at your post 107. You said to Danny;

"Having admitted you know absolutely nothing about what goes on at FF. You press ahead talking with authority about It."

You then go on to fundamentally admit that when it comes to Unsworth you too have no idea what goes on at Finch Farm by saying;

"You tell me I rate Unsworth...That's news to me. I have never seen him work either"!

I seriously wonder whether you may have some sort of split mind because the cogency you display in commenting on the club is severely at odds with the frenetic personal antipathy you constantly display to fellow fans who choose to take a different opinion to you.

It's really weird, but can be accidentally amusing I admit!

Danny O’Neill
119 Posted 22/12/2021 at 17:19:52
David Unsworth is a top bloke, by the way. He lived across the road from the lady who used to look after my son in Gatacre in the mid to late 90s, just up from Woolton Village. Very personable and approachable.

I have nothing against David Unsworth or any ex-Everton player. I'll just judge them on performance and output. Just as most of us do on a weekly basis on players, coaches and managers.

Darren Hind
120 Posted 22/12/2021 at 19:42:24

I was going to leave it there...but you don't seem to want to.

When stating that wages are, what has got the club where it is. You should perhaps think about whose wages.

Silva, Koeman, Walsh, Brands, Allardyce and carlofantastico bled this club of around 120m for their wages, compo and backroom staff. Between them they squandered 500m on players who are not fit for purpose These free loaders agreed contracts worth over 200m quid with these players. They achieved nothing other than force good Evertonians to sit through football of the ugliest kind.

Now contrast that to the relative pittance we paid for players who signed for under 23's. Contrast that to the wages earned by junior staff at FF. Contrast the vasts increase in value of the players who come through the under23" to the rapid decline in value of the piss poor players the free loaders spent fortunes on.

When I look at your argument I ask myself Why you not railing against the people who actually squandered the money ? The people who have achieved fuck all ? The people who have systematically force fed the faithful zombie football ?
Honestly I look at your continued criticism of the lower ranks of this club and the words. Tree, Wrong and Barking swirl round my head.

I get that less intelligent people than you wont understand that somebody who hasn't witnessed Unsworths training sessions can possibly List his achievements (official records). List the seven players he has provided for the first team (also official records) and put up quotes from all concerned to prove he was the man who brought in DCL and Branthwaite.

I also get they wont be able to see the difference between the factual records and quotes I put up and the spiteful stream of ill informed ignorance they spout without offering anything at all to back it up.

There is a very real difference between offering opinion and malicious criticism with no hope or intention of having to justify it and whilst I don't believe you got down this route. I believe you are, demonstrably barking up the wrong tree.

Don Alexander
121 Posted 22/12/2021 at 23:12:50
Dazza, you've palpably stated you know nothing of what goes on at Finch Farm and yet you berate others for being in your very same boat. Doing so portrays you as ridiculous and weird my friend.

Moving on to you trying to use as corroboration the gushing comments spouted by those in the football industry about your poster-boy Unsworth, can you think of any occasion when somebody still active in football has gone public regarding fellow professionals also still in the industry with anything but apparent praise?

I'll buy you a tube of pastilles if you can! My toddler grandson likes them too.

Brendan McLaughlin
122 Posted 22/12/2021 at 23:28:50
Have to agree Don #121,

I mean when James Rodriguez claimed he only came to Everton because of Ancelotti...

Guy Rogers
123 Posted 23/12/2021 at 00:19:09
£500M spunked and it's all Unsworth's fault!
Dave Lynch
124 Posted 23/12/2021 at 01:34:41
Dominic Calvert-Lewin would fetch nowhere near £75 million.
Kieran Kinsella
125 Posted 23/12/2021 at 03:00:14

Couple of housekeeping points. I’ve never said I don’t know what goes on at Finch Farm. Secondly, why do you always call me by my last name? Is it meant as some sign of disrespect or you trying to draw attention to my cuz who was Stevie G’s mate and imply I’m an RS? You can pick your friends you can’t pick your family … except your spouse I guess, and any adopted kids, also illegitimate ones if you’re a Royal I suppose but them apart.

Kieran Kinsella
126 Posted 23/12/2021 at 03:03:11

I was going to make a joke about Unsie spunking and the board of directors but you may think that; I couldn't possibly comment.

Darren Hind
127 Posted 23/12/2021 at 03:38:34
Here we go

The accusations have been laid bare. Now the lies are trundled out.

Nowhere and I mean nowhere have I stated I know nothing about FF. I have been there several times. Last season (about a week before the footage was released) I posted on here that Davide Ancelotti was taking training sessions right back to basics. I had been told about this by a member of the staff who happens to be a personal friend of mine.
Does that mean I have seen an Unsworth session ? no it doesnt?
Does it mean I am more informed than you average interested ? No it doesnt.
Does it mean I know more about what goes on there than Don Alexander ?..... My cat knows more than Don Alexander who posts on here on an almost daily basis about something he has frequently admitted he knows nothing about. He doesnt offer an opinion as he claims... He simply slings mud.


You raise an excellent point; Did "Cant play" and "wont play" really come over just to play for Carlo ? or did they come here because he offered than better contracts than anybody else was prepared to at the time ?

Here's another one for those who scream "jobs for the Boys"; Did Davide Ancelotti and Sammy Lee earn an awful lot more than the junior coaches at FF Where they worth it ? or were they part of the band wagon which REALLY did Steal a living ?

Carlo Ancelotti and his entourage cost us over 20m quid. to provide 18 months of abject misery and a mid table finish. The wages and transfer fee of "cant play" and "wont play" cost around another 40m - still rising.

So who was better for Everton ? The guy were were "lucky to have". Who squandered a fortune then snuck away into the night with bulging saddle bags or the much maligned "living stealer" who has produce and signed well over 100m quids worth of talent on a shoe string ?...Tough call

This is the problem with mindless happy clapping. A scapegoat (or two ) is Always required when the clapping was shown to be in vain.

For me, Its a pride thing which prevents some of the clappers from allowing common sense to prevail.

Kieran Kinsella
128 Posted 23/12/2021 at 04:15:14
Alan J Thompson
129 Posted 23/12/2021 at 06:19:46
I sometimes wonder who was on the coaching staff who couldn't teach Lukaku to trap a bag of cement, so many have come and gone.
Danny O’Neill
130 Posted 23/12/2021 at 07:21:51
It's not that I don't want to leave it Darren, I just enjoy the debate and we didn't have the Leicester match to talk about this week.

I think we're discussing two different things here. The wasting of money, which I have been very vocal about. Our transfer non-strategy has been shocking. It goes beyond the managers in my opinion. We've kept changing manager but nothing has changed. That tells me the problem is elsewhere.

Then, the want for the academy to do better than it has done in recent years. I don't think that's wrong to question as it hasn't done as well as I would have wanted or expected. Hopefully that is now starting to materialise. I genuinely hope so and the more recent signs are positive. Ironically, although presenting it differently, we are probably agreeing and wanting the same thing on this one. As my youngest and more sensible brother always says, only Evertonians can argue about the one thing they agree on - Everton!!

Talking about dogs, trees and barking, mine spends most of his time running from tree to tree and squirrel to squirrel barking at trees every morning. I often join him, especially on a match day morning, so you may have a point.

If I don't get the chance or forget, have a good Christmas Darren and all fellow Evertonians. I can't get to a match until Brighton home and Norwich away in the New Year, so best wishes to all.

Eddie Dunn
131 Posted 23/12/2021 at 08:53:13
Darren, whilst I agree with you on many points and was not a big fan of Carlo. I must point out that it wasn't all abject misery. There was one monkey he got off our back.

The win at Anfield was priceless.

I was so sick of the pundits going on and on about how long it had been etc, etc. Of course now they weekly find other remarkable stats about them to satisfy their hunger for idolatry.

Danny O’Neill
132 Posted 23/12/2021 at 09:03:41
And depending how you look at it Eddie, one game away from European football. Others will call it as it stood - 10th / mid-table.

Another season to wait for the European Tour. 7th place and the FA Cup should do it!!

Barry Rathbone
133 Posted 23/12/2021 at 09:08:17
Further back someone eulogised about "spotting talent" this is the most inconsequential term in football anyone who kicked a ball in the play ground can pick out a good player. Getting them to sign is the trick and is contingent on money, prospects and locality (the first 2 points may negate the last) but financially and prospectwise we're not at the races.

Brands and the other fella (can't remenber his name) had stellar reps before rocking up at GP but got chewed up and spat out because the club cannot compete with London, Madrid, Paris and the prospects/financial strength of the mancs and Liverpool.

Absolutely pointless a DOF at this club far better to put the money into lower league scouting

Danny O’Neill
135 Posted 23/12/2021 at 09:18:48
Chicken and egg discussion that Barry, but I still maintain the change happened at the wrong level and maintained a certain status quo.

He was a decent player who I liked Guy. But in a very average Everton team at best. I'll never forget that bizarre Aston Villa transfer debacle though.

Eddie Dunn
136 Posted 23/12/2021 at 09:38:33
On the subject of young talent. Is it not the case that the likes of Chelsea hoover up the best prospects and at a later date they loan lots of them out. They then take back who they think might make it in their side.
The fact that clubs are allowed to loan out so many players makes it less likely that those kids would, instead plumb for a club where they have more prospects of first team football.
At present Gimour and Gallagher (to name but two) are out on loan from Chelsea. They clearly could play in most PL teams.
A limit on this would help everyone outside the top six.
Danny O’Neill
137 Posted 23/12/2021 at 09:55:31
I think Chelsea have spent years getting it in place Eddie. It wasn't without taking 2 steps forward, 1 step back, but they seem to be in a decent place now. But yes, definitely a policy of hoovering up and spitting out what they don't want. On a lower scale, I personally witnessed Watford do that in my local area. And Brentford were doing it as well until they totally changed their strategy a few years ago.

The loan system has been working for them recently, but earlier they let the likes of Lukaku go only to pay a decent wedge to get him back. And I know you can never tell, but De Bruyne and Salah? Talk about the ones that got away, even though they've done not too badly without them.

Judging young players and whether they will make it will always be that; judgemental. I just hope that we have been laying foundations that will see benefit a few years down stream, if we're not seeing that already.

Robert Tressell
138 Posted 23/12/2021 at 09:57:42
Eddie # 136, clubs on the continent attract young players because they offer a route to the first team. They are not paying the best wages by any stretch - but young kids are attracted by the fact the club is organised around the academy and youth development.

With a change of mindset Everton could operate on this basis - and our lack of riches for ready made players actually gives us an advantage over those with two established internationals for each position.

Barry #133, the DoF model (best exemplified in the UK by Man Utd under Ferguson and Arsenal under Wenger) is not incompatible with quality lower league scouting.

Unfortunately, our attempts at the DoF model have hit the same issue as all other aspects of the club - lack of clear vision, lack of strategy, lack of innovation and too many big egos with their own agendas.

Danny O’Neill
139 Posted 23/12/2021 at 10:15:33
Or an ability and desire to follow it through Robert?

Here's playing Devil's Advocate. The academy needs to be balanced and (through fear of being accused of harping on), a club can become a victim of their success at that level. And yes, I'll use Schalke as an example. Sorry Michael.

For years they produced, on a factory scale, top quality players and offered a route to the first team stage only to lose too many of those players to the Hawks that inevitably came circling. Because so much of their strategy was invested in the academy and not balanced with decent transfers, once they lost players to Europe's top teams and it dried up, they struggled.

The key word here is strategy, but it must encompass both Academy development and transfers. I know that is stating the blindingly obvious.

Tony Abrahams
140 Posted 23/12/2021 at 10:57:20
I think Wenger suffered in a very similar way but on a lesser scale Danny, and just when he needed to spend a bit of money, to turn his team into genuine contenders once again, his better players were tapped up, and ended up leaving because they wanted to go and win things?

It’s absolutely ruthless even in the lower age groups now, with clubs prepared to offer kids or parents, more than they have ever had in their lives, and I think this is probably one of the reasons Chelsea, have become so successful, although I’m certain they also have very good coaches, that really help to improve most of these very talented kids?

Barry Rathbone
141 Posted 23/12/2021 at 16:44:09
Robert 138

"Barry #133, the DoF model (best exemplified in the UK by Man Utd under Ferguson and Arsenal under Wenger)"

I don't get this at all if any 2 managers epitomised sourcing their own players it's these 2. Can't imagine any DOF telling Fergie or Arsene "we're buying these lads now get on with it".

Utd and Arsenal ALSO tick the boxes of money and prospects (plus location in Arsenal's case) to say I am puzzled by your thinking is an understatement

Robert Tressell
142 Posted 23/12/2021 at 17:58:09
Barry, Wenger and Ferguson were the directors of football towards the end of their reign. They didn't have the title but they each performed the role.
Barry Rathbone
143 Posted 23/12/2021 at 18:43:39
Robert 142

They didn't have the title because their title was "manager".

That you construe their responsibilties to encompass that of a DOF surely must have you thinking "if the manager is doing it why the need for a DOF?" - surely?

It is a nonsense, a buzz word appointment that half decent managers don't need (as per your examples) and poor managers must see as interference.

Robert Tressell
144 Posted 23/12/2021 at 18:50:31
Barry, these two were much more than managers in the conventional sense - and had delegated the coaching role to others. They were much closer to being DoF than what we tend to think of as a manager. That's what enabled their longevity.

Man Utd have very belatedly cottoned on to this and finally appointed Rangnick - very definitely a DoF these days rather than a coach / manager.

Barry Rathbone
145 Posted 23/12/2021 at 18:59:50
Robert 144

you are projecting.

Whatever infrastructures SAF and Wenger construcred they were managers EVIDENCED by the lack of any announcement by their resepective clubs that they had been replaced as manager to become DOF.

I just googled Rangnick his appointment is manager not DOF.

Dave Abrahams
146 Posted 23/12/2021 at 19:25:47
Back in the mid fifties after Cliff Britton resigned Everton appointed Ian Buchan to be in charge of football affairs, he never had the title of manager so was he our first DOF ?
Eddie Dunn
147 Posted 23/12/2021 at 19:39:36
Putting things in perspective comparing European football clubs to us.
I have visited Portugal quite a few times over the years. Mostly visiting churches and other places with tiles in (I make tiles).

Me and the missus stayed in a nice lady's house back in '88. Her lad was 14 and living up in Lisbon in Benfica's academy. He was getting all his education there. She was a widow, letting any rooms she had to make ends meet and put her lad through his footy education.

We were embarrassed to find she was sleeping in her kitchen.

I don't know what became of her boy but I did write his name down in my sketchbook at the time. I will dig it out and check if he was Figo or Moutinho!

I am always non-plussed when I hear of scousers who have slipped through the net. It would save us a fortune if we could get the lads who have made it elsewhere. It is surely worth investing in. Just one nugget would make millions of pounds worth of investment worthwile.

Robert Tressell
148 Posted 23/12/2021 at 19:45:12
Barry, you're focussing on the job titles rather than the roles being performed. Ferguson dealt with recruitment, club standards, hiring and firing of coaches etc. All the role of a DoF. He didn't do the coaching or tactics - that was delegated down to Quieroz, Muelensteen and Phelan. It ensured they kept fresh on the footballing side whilst maintaining the continuity with a man who had effectively become so much more than a manager and yet discarded the coaching from his role. Rangnick will be the same because that's how he operates. He's not a coach. For us he'd be closer to a replacement for Brands than Benitez.

In some respects it's not hugely important what we call these people if you don't like the term DoF (which seems mistrusted in British football). The point is to have divisions of roles and responsibilities that are too big for one person.

Dave, I've never heard of the people you describe. Maybe one was what we might now describe as a DoF.

Dave Abrahams
149 Posted 23/12/2021 at 20:04:54
Robert (148), Cliff Britton was Everton’s first proper manager after the Second World War taking over from Theo Kelly, Cliff also played in Everton’s 1933 FA cup final team.

Ian Buchan came from Loughborough? College and had no previous professional football connections, I think he only lasted two seasons at the club, in his first game in charge he made the team get off the coach and walk the last mile to the ground, to prove their fitness, this was at Leeds Unt and I was at the game, the half time score was 5-0 to Leeds, we did better in the second half and scored a goal, the game finishing 5-1.

Don Alexander
150 Posted 23/12/2021 at 21:00:19
Dazza, on this very thread you admit to not knowing what Unsworth actually does at FF whilst also claiming you regularly observe what goes on there. You also claim to have a "snout" who works there. I guess he never gets to see the ephemeral Unsworth either. I just give your stance no credibility - it's nonsensical.

Even more nonsensical, on this very thread you state that Unsworth deserves huge credit for developing DCL & Branthwaite to an estimated joint value of £100million. Yet in your post at #107 you say;

"Here's something else I know. It is Unsworth's job to provide players for the first team. Then it becomes the first team managers job to improve them further."

So obviously you must therefore give credit for their fabulous improvement to the managers who've played them in the first team, the very managers who you never-endingly despise mind you.

Like I said, keep 'em coming lad, I like a good laugh.

Darren Hind
151 Posted 23/12/2021 at 22:03:36
You find it so funny, you just have to keep coming back trying to save you argument by spouting childish porkies.

Nowhere do I say I don't know what Unsworth does. But you know that because you have read the list of his achievements I put up.
Let me put in a way you will understand; I have never seen the guy who cleans the toilets work.....but I know what he does.

Porkie two. I have never claimed I have a "snout" working at FF (thats just you irrepressible urge to sling nasty mud). I said I know somebody there and I have absolutely no doubt he has seen Unsworth work hundreds of times. Believe it or not though. He does not work there solely to give me information.

Unsworth does deserve huge credit for signing these players...And he will get it from all but the bitter and the churlish...And yes. Further development in the first team IS the responsibility of the first team boss. Thats how it works.

Others on here have put up decent arguments. but despite years of invitations to substantiate your frequently spiteful abuse of ex-players you have offered nothing but ignorance. I`ve lost count of how many times you have been forced to admit you dont know what you are talking about.

Get back to me when you have worked out the difference between opinion and ill informed mud slinging.

Eddie @131

Yes. Carlo did indeed throw the monkey of our backs when he went to Mordor and came away with a long awaited and glorious win. His football may not have been the prettiest, but he did craft some highly unlikely wins at venues we have struggled at for years.

I stand corrected.


I have finished for the Christmas and intend having a boozy break. No doubt I will log in between now and then to see whats new, but if I don't cross swords with you again. Let me take the opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy and safe Christmas.

Dennis Stevens
152 Posted 23/12/2021 at 22:04:00
Robert, the way you describe Ferguson & Wenger sounds for all the world rather like Catterick when he was Everton Manager - very much a "suit & tie" manager rather than a tracksuit manager.
Don Alexander
153 Posted 24/12/2021 at 03:27:27
Dazza I quote, repeat, "quote", your very own words and all you do is retort by calling me a liar.

Think about that, and then see if you too don't think you're weird.

Darren Hind
154 Posted 24/12/2021 at 05:50:04
Quote ?

What I said is still up there, Better yet, so is what you said

Jim Jennings
155 Posted 24/12/2021 at 07:37:53

Let it go. You’re making a tit of yourself, not for the first time, by going in head first trying to pick holes in his posts by not knowing the difference between someone saying he has never seen someone at work…but still knows what they do.

Darren didn’t claim he doesn’t know what Unsworth does or that he “regularly observes” what goes on at FF. He said he has “never seen him work” and pointed out the evidence - all in the public domain - of the success he has had and the role he has had in recruiting two players.
There’s a big difference and you’re too blinded by trying to score points, to actually read and understand it.

Darren Hind
156 Posted 24/12/2021 at 21:52:03
Jeff Armstrong
157 Posted 24/12/2021 at 22:03:48

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