Everton U18s beat Bolton in pre-season friendly

Saturday, 24 July, 2021 52comments  |  Jump to last

Everton U18s beat Bolton U18s 3-0 on Saturday, with goals from Jack Tierney, Isaac Heath, and Coby Ebere.

No further information on the teamsheet or game action, but it was a side consisting mostly of players from last season's U16s, along with the best out of the U15s as the Academy looks to accelerate the development of younger players this season.


Reader Comments (52)

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Phillip Warrington
1 Posted 25/07/2021 at 10:35:27
Over the last 5 years Everton's recruitment and development of our future has been puzzling and unbelievable at times. I can think of only one player who has come through this system and commands a regular place in the starting line-up every week.

We seem to sign promising players and even had at least 3 players in the junior England teams that were successful a couple of years ago.

As an Evertonian who lives in Australia and doesn't live and have access to all things Evertonian, I have this question to you guys: do we buy and recruit players to be competitive in the U18s and U23s leagues and give those coaches good starts or do we try and sign and recruit future first-team players but really fail in this area.

Living over here and just getting minimal news but we get the results which always are very competitive but every year we are left with the same puzzling question: Why are there not more players breaking into the first-team squad?

Michael Kenrick
2 Posted 25/07/2021 at 11:32:27
Hi Philip,

Yes, our Academy has been receiving increasing critical scrutiny in recent times, and this news of its apparent failings has now finally reached the far-flung colonies.

The almost total failure to produce the required end product (let's just ignore the fact that the likes of Davies, Kenny, Gordon, Baningime, Calvert-Lewin in the current squad all came through various stages of the Academy, U18s and U23s sides) is certainly an easy test of the system – after all, how hard can it be to take a promising youngster and progress him through to become a real star of the Premier League?

In answer to your question, I think it's a firm Yes to both parts. Yes, we do buy and recruit players to be competitive in the U18s and U23s leagues, because these competitive games are the growing fields for all the players. surely the key environment for them to develop and express themselves outside of the gym and the training pitches. Having a good team set-up, with the right ethic, ability to play together, show good teamwork and, yes, be competitive has to be fundamental to the development of the individual players.

The obvious hope is that they will become first-team players. However, finding players that have the full combination of ingredients to constitute the right stuff seems har as those coming through are few and far between. Players may look really good at 12, 14, 17, whatever age, but the vast majority (well over 99%) just do not make it to the highest levels.

There's clearly an expectation that we should be producing such players. But the reality is that it is extremely hard to predict the career path and especially the impending injury story for any individual youngster at any age.

Maybe this could change if we set clear measurable targets that must be achieved by the Academy staff, with their jobs put firmly on the line. But I think all that would happen is a fairlure to meet such targets and a high turnover of Academy staff as result, with still no players coming through – unless we have a real gem (think Rooney or Barkley as the most recent ones) who actually have so much ability they zoom straight through the U18s and U23s, and into the Premier League.

The news that this player development process carries no guarantees and defies prediction, with minimal return on massive expenditure in terms of time, effort and talent, has still to reach many fans in the local area and the rest of the UK who still habour similar elevated expectations for the Academy. It may take quite a while for the reality to reach you in Australia.

Brian Harrison
3 Posted 25/07/2021 at 12:06:12

I think your last paragraph perfectly summarises the vagaries of the likely return from our academy set up. Some clubs certainly benefit hugely from their academies, whether that be in getting players as youngsters who progress to be first-team regulars, or those clubs who are able to sell the youngsters who they deem not good enough for quite large sums of money.

The defence that many use in regarding our academy coaches is that they do their best with the youngsters they are given to work with. And seeing nobody who posts here has access to Finch Farm on a daily basis to put a counter argument to the quality of the coaching the youngsters are getting, then the only counter argument is the system hasn't produced many regular first-team players; but again many will say that's because the raw talent they get to work with isn't good enough.

I would just say that our neighbours seem to acquire youngsters that, over the years, have become regulars for their first-team and go on to have stellar careers, Owen, Fowler and Macmanaman spring to mind. I realise that our present academy coaches weren't here when those players were youngsters so just shows that fault has been there for a long time, not just with this group of coaches.

Again probably the best club by far at producing their own youngsters is Man Utd. I think Busby set the tone of encouraging the club to promote youngsters and is still carried on to this day. So the question has to be: What are Man Utd and Liverpool doing that we are not?

The other team who use the academy system cleverly is Chelsea, not so much in producing youngsters to play in their first team, like Man Utd, but Chelsea use the academy to produce young players who fetch large sums that helps the club financially, which helps offset their purchases.

Martin Nicholls
4 Posted 25/07/2021 at 12:31:10
Brian#3 - of course you're right about players that rs (amongst others, I'd add Slippy and Spotty to your list), manure and Chelsea seem to produce on a regular basis. Another club that seems to bring young players on a regular basis, but is often overlooked when discussing the subject, is Arsenal.

PS - I'm in a minority who'd take back one of our rare successes, Barkley, if we could be confident that he'd got his head right - that of course would be the problem with him.

Michael Kenrick
5 Posted 25/07/2021 at 12:40:18
Some good points there, Brian.

The one about those young Everton fans who ended up coming through the Academy system at Liverpool has been cited before. Ancient history at this point but wasn't there something about Everton closing their academy at a critical time, forcing these Evertonians to cross the park in search of their dreams to become professional players?

I think I've seen that hinted at in the comments and wanted to research it, but it's easier to ask here if it's true, and what years the Everton Academy was closed, and by whom? Is this something that anyone has seen described in tomes like James Corbett's Everton – School of Science?


Andy Crooks
6 Posted 25/07/2021 at 12:59:41
I believe there has been unfair criticism of staff. What indeed is the way to judge an academy? Winning, creating winning habits and demanding success seems like a good place to start and we have achieved that.

Maybe there are nurturing training methods that don't require the foregoing, that create Brazilian type young players who can be sold on for millions. Maybe the staff at Finch Farm know about these secrets but choose to focus on producing 'Championship at best' players. I don't know.

What I can guess is that there are lots of clubs chasing a limited pool of talent. We have a group of kids at vastly different stages of development, with hugely differing personalities and needs. With pressures, insecurities and doubts. In the absence of a regular Wayne Rooney we require an immeasurable amount of luck as do the kids.

Whatever happens at Finch Farm requires a good deal of conjecture to get angry at.

Barry Hesketh
7 Posted 25/07/2021 at 13:03:12
Given the last five years or so has been Everton's most turbulent period in terms of managerial changes and everything else that comes with that, it's no surprise that very few young players have emerged to challenge for a first-team place.

Each change of manager also meant that a possible change of philosophy has hampered the pathway of the youngsters to the first-team> As the new manager's priorities were immediate and rarely having the inclination or the time to properly assess the quality of the young players, any gaps in the first-team have been filled with 'oven-ready' (in some cases proper turkey's) players.

There is also the fact that the recruitment of young players is a very competitive arena, where the more successful clubs find it easier to attract the better players, not just the local ones but from all over Europe and beyond.

If Everton FC really wanted to invest in the 'production line' of young players, there would be one person at the top of my wish list to be in charge of this and it would be Roberto Martinez – but unfortunately it's unlikely that he would take on such a job.

I suppose ultimately it's Marcel Brands's task to push the coaches of the younger sides to try and improve the ratio of young players emerging into first team players but, if the quality isn't there in the first place, how can the coaches be held responsible for the perceived failure to produce first-team players?

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
8 Posted 25/07/2021 at 13:07:01
I would strongly contend that getting into a Premier League side is part skill, part brain (footballing brain) and part determination.

We can argue for years about the proportion of each one but I think most of us focus on the first, whereas it is probably the latter two that makes the difference.

My view is that the likes of Michael Branch and Francis Jeffers. (Sorry if you are reading this, Michael, but you were a great athlete but I am not sure you had the natural ability that I saw when Francis came on the scene with Kevin Campbell. But then why didn't Francis make the grade? Determination. A head too easily swayed by modest riches today rather than significant wealth in the future.

When Lukaku first came to the club, friends were his player sponsors. What did he do after training? Go back and watch videos of other great goalscorers. He wanted to hone his trade. How many of our youngsters finish training for the day and come back for extra sessions?

And there may also be a fourth. How many non-internationals make the Premier League for the Sky teams? So chances of making the first team are low. But somehow an average forward who is never going to make it at a Sky team and who goes out on loan and scores minimal goals is still sold for £20M because of the club where he originates. They can afford to loan their players to the other 14 teams in the league as they don't think they are going to improve the team to the detriment of their own league position. We, on the other hand, have to consider whether loaning Tom Davies or Mason Holgate to a Newcastle or Southampton will improve their league position and they finish above us. So our players only ever go to lower division teams to gain experience.

And having never proved themselves at the highest level, they don't command the highest of fees.

Ian Bennett
9 Posted 25/07/2021 at 13:23:39
Manchester United have an outstanding record of developing youngsters. Like Ajax, it appears in their DNA.

Their fans and managers have clearly had more success than us, but also are more patient in giving youth its chance. I don't think as a fan base we are patient despite the protests.

Until last season, Calvert-Lewin was getting "Championship at best". How is that for nurturing young talent?

Darren Hind
10 Posted 25/07/2021 at 13:57:43
The days when "scouts would unearth Gems" are all but gone. The "most likely" talent is known locally pre-teenage years. By the time the top lads reach 14-16, every club in the land has been alerted to them. It then becomes a question of the pulling power of the individual club. The more successful the club, the greater the pulling power.

We are well down the pecking order. Other clubs appeal more. We are not rich or successful enough to pull in the top talent. We have to pick up what's left.

Our academy these days is at a very definite disadvantage to the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, the Manchester clubs and Liverpool. You also have to remember that even those clubs produce very few of their own.

What we have done well is to pick up players who have slipped through the net. Calvert-Lewin and Holgate would fetch around 100m in today's market. The fact that they have become regulars would suggest the coaching at FF was definitely good enough. They just need the right raw material.

Unfortunately this is just another issue where our club has been caught sleeping. Liverpool have long since recognised the importance of getting these kids signed up early. While we sat and waited for the Evertonians to do the "right thing" and come to us. They were sending the big guns (manager and chairman) out to seduce their families and secure signatures.

The fact is, we are playing catch-up again like all the other areas in which we are playing catch up. We don't seem to be making any in-roads

Tony Abrahams
11 Posted 25/07/2021 at 14:06:41
I think players being produced by our academy after that period when Liverpool had so much success out of young Evertonians definitely kept Everton from going into administration, with Ball, Jeffers, Dunne, and then that once in a lifetime footballer, Wayne Rooney, helping us just about keep our head above water.

The standard has got much higher since then, and I think Barry, makes a great point about it being such an unsettling environment for young kids trying to come through into the first team, with so many different managers being in charge over the last five seasons, but with an academy probably with a bigger budget than half the 92 league clubs, I'd still expect better results, to justify such a huge outlay.

Darren Hind
12 Posted 25/07/2021 at 14:24:38

I agree, but the academy is the only department at the club that pays for itself. Players like Rodwell, Jeffers, have been sold for enough money to pay for it many times over. Even Big Vic brought in £5M. That would probably cover the coaching staff's wages for two seasons If we were to sell Tom Davies for say £15M that would pay to keep the academy open for another 2-3 years.

You can't produce top class players without having the raw material, but you can produce assets. I don't think there can be any question that we have always done.

Danny O’Neill
13 Posted 25/07/2021 at 15:07:48
Apologies for the morbid start; emotional weekend I'm afraid. I attended an anniversary memorial service with the family of a friend and colleague killed in Afghanistan when we were there in 2007 and then a rare trip to my Dad's headstone in Yorkshire. On a lighter note, it's why you've had a break from me for a few days!!

I won't repeat myself from previous posts, I've made my point on youth football, what feeds the academies and the academies myself on many, many occasions.

Some very valid points above. I done a quick look on the previous discussion we had similar to this, and even the most consistent, Manchester United, don't have streams of ex academy players you could count as regular first team players. Not on the scale of "Fergie's Fledglings". Chelsea? Similar and only recently I would say, not over the years. Liverpool had that 90s "spike" on the players (many Evertonians) mentioned, but then not really anything significant since in terms of numbers. Only one consistently in the first team now?

And remember West Ham used to be renowned for producing from their academy? But now I don't see too many. They could claim Declan Rice, but he spent most of his youth career at Chelsea rather than West Ham. In fact if you consider he's more a product of Chelsea, there's another recent one for them.

The buying or transferring of young players Is common practice and even "one of our own" Harry Kane bounced around with Arsenal & briefly with Watford before settling on Tottenham. We obviously have Calvert-Lewin & Holgate, but then we still have to development them.

I found an interesting fact about a friend of mine's son. He was transferred from Sunderland to Liverpool aged 15 in 2018 for an alleged £500,000. Apparently he had to sign adoption papers for Liverpool to effectively to be his legal guardian. Not that I doubted, but as this information was through a mutual friend and not direct, I have no idea if strictly true. Sounds bizarre if so. Anyone know??

As Michael says, it's a very difficult thing to achieve bringing players through from the cradle to the first team at the same club, so to speak. In that sense, you could argue that Everton don't do a bad job, it just depends on the standard expect.

And there are so many ways to measure it. Are we judging by players that have only been at that club's academy? Been taken from another club's and "polished"? Regular first team (difficult in today's rotational squad game). In the squad? Playing professional football somewhere else? Like anything, the criteria for success can be adapted to suit anyone's argument I suppose.

But, in general our (as in UK wide) academies are not top drawer production belts like Ajax and Schalke, for example.

Michael Kenrick
14 Posted 25/07/2021 at 15:09:13

"If the quality isn't there in the first place, how can the coaches be held responsible for the perceived failure to produce first-team players?"

Our Academy problem in a nutshell.

Anyone tempted to weigh in yet again with more attacks on the Academy coaches should be required to answer that question first.

Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 25/07/2021 at 15:16:18
The simplistic root of the problem in my opinion Michael / Barry. Put I'm leaving the scratched record in it's sleeve and cover!
Tony Abrahams
16 Posted 25/07/2021 at 15:37:18
Maybe Darren, and that’s what I was trying to say about the past mate, because it done more than pay for itself, in the times I mentioned, (I’d argue we wouldn’t have been stuck with Bill Kenwright for so long if it hadn’t been so successful) but I’m not sure it’s doing such a great job now.

I thought Unsworth writing an open letter to DCL, before the Euro final, was his way of telling everyone he got Dominic, to the club, (great scouting) but when you consider the cost of running the academy, plus all the other players we have signed for money, I just think we could be doing a lot better Darren, although I actually think we will start doing much better, once this new direction of fast-tracking the younger players, really begins to kick in?

I think the reason we will have more success is because this fast-tracking, will stop us holding onto players to long, which can lead to stagnation, but only the future will tell us if it works out this way🤞

Tony Abrahams
17 Posted 25/07/2021 at 15:49:03
I could argue against this Michael, and say I believe it could be the coaching, because this was something I saw at finch-farm in the younger teams a few years ago, although this is just my own personal opinion.

I remember watching Everton, having a very special group of kids, who were all around 9 years of age, (mad really, so young) and they were to good for the opposition, and different kids just kept breaking up the pitch and scoring.

It’s an academy, surely that means that you attend to be educated, and it saddened me that these advanced children, were not being coached to pass and move, once the game had become to easy, but I suppose we all see things differently, and that was just how I saw things then.

Danny O’Neill
18 Posted 25/07/2021 at 16:05:14
So many factors Tony and coaching is absolutely one of them. Even if we improved the standard presented to the academy, the coaches still have to develop them.

Then there are other factors; desire & commitment of the player to succeed, mentality, family background and life things, and yes, coaching. Many things to consider in whether a player comes through. You would know that better than me I would wager.

Without sounding like a liberal fence-sitter, I kind of agree with both sides here. You know my views on getting it right at the bottom of the pyramid first so the calibre of player feeding the academies gives the coaches a better start point.

But then, whilst I don't know the ins and outs of Finch Farm, I firmly believe that we allow too many non-qualified and non-knowledgable "coaches" to "coach" our kids in the wrong way in this country.

Maybe if we produce better players to feed the academies, we can then put more scrutiny on the coaching.

It feels like one of those chicken and egg circular debates!!

Don Alexander
19 Posted 25/07/2021 at 16:19:04
It seems illogical to have a coaching staff but no expectation that they can improve the core factors required to be a professional player.

Never mind the managerial merry-go-round, our ex-Everton player coaches have weirdly stayed the course despite the fact is that in matches we see again and again an inability to instantly control the ball, pass it forwards accurately or shoot meaningfully.

I'm 66 and I can tell anyone interested that mega-practice improves all of those so-called skills no end. The snag for our millionaire players might just be that mega-practice takes up mega-time, and that'd never do would it?

I'm comforted by Darren's truthful observations on our manifold past failures as a club. I wonder who was in the boardroom or in charge at the time?

Tony Abrahams, thanks for your input too. I think from what I see that regimentation of thought and percentage-play has long since taken over in our academies to the cost of skill, imagination and WOW factor, and that's sad.

Tony Abrahams
20 Posted 25/07/2021 at 16:42:59
You don’t have to be the best player, if you can work harder than everyone else, and this seems to have been forgotten more than anything else, with the so many managers who have passed through finch-farm, in the last few years.

If the waiter can change this, then things will hopefully become better, and people might begin to realize that we have really been shortchanged by a succession of different managers, because none of them have given us a team of real hard workers, and this should always be a given.

Let Unsworth coach, let Brands fast-track, and let Benitez manage, and we should become a much better football club, especially if they all do their jobs, to the best of their ability, because it’s the most anyone of us can reasonably ask for.

Jay Harris
21 Posted 25/07/2021 at 16:45:51
I think it's a simple equation of numbers.

Let's say there are 500 squad places available in the Premier League and probably about the same number or more of clubs with academies if you include France, Spain, Portugal etc. I think you get my point.

There are thousands of kids every year looking to make it to the top and some mature faster than others so, in practice, a good young-un may push out a slightly older academy player (Small may be a case in point). Said youngster hasn't fully matured so, at that stage, injuries, fatigue, personal problems, lifestyle etc haven't fully kicked in.

Add that to the ridiculous amount of money young unproven players are getting and you can see how their chances of making it to the top are hampered.

That's before you even consider the quality of the coaching and we need to remember: being a great player does not necessarily make you a great coach.

Danny O’Neill
22 Posted 25/07/2021 at 16:56:56
Jay, although coaching is an aspect and factor in this, in my opinion, it goes back to the grass roots that feeds the academies first and foremost.

The proof of our collective academies and the grass roots that feeds them in this country is in the England pudding.

If we are talking about the holistic youth system and academies, ours has not produced at scale for years. "Ours" meaning England's, not just Everton's.

Jay Harris
23 Posted 25/07/2021 at 17:17:41
I was trying to make the point that although we are beating up the academy for not producing more first teamers that it is simply a question of the pool becoming bigger and more competitive so the chances of success or survival even is greatly reduced compared to years ago.

When I was a youth player we were getting scouted by Chester, Tranmere, Southport etc and those were the academies of their day and if the scout happened to see you on a good day you were in.

Now the world is such a small place it has gone from "local" talent to international "stars of the future" with a massive number of kids vying to eat at the top table. That to me has far more effect on kids able to come through than coaching.

Terry White
24 Posted 25/07/2021 at 17:26:25
I wonder who it is kicking our Chairman again? Answer? #19.
Danny O’Neill
25 Posted 25/07/2021 at 17:46:17
I wouldn't say I'm beating up our (Everton's) academy necessarily Jay. More the academy system and more so, what sits under it.

It feels like, albeit in a different kind of way, we are touching on a similar thing.

Lots of investment in academies at the elite level but neglect underneath.

The result? Those gleaming facilities and surroundings don't get fed with sufficient quantity of the quality of player we want to see.

So, good players aren't being allowed to develop naturally through youth systems at clubs like you mention because they are chewed up and spat out by the elites before they've had a chance to develop and maybe join those later in the development cycle?

Only the few and the odd gem come through when I have no doubt there is talent out there. It just isn't being spotted or coached correctly at the level beneath the top academies. All in my personal experience and opinion obviously.

Tony; for your hard work, that's what I mean by commitment & desire.

The challenge (I prefer challenges, not problems), is addressing it much earlier in the food chain than by the time players hit an academy like Everton's.

Tony Abrahams
26 Posted 25/07/2021 at 18:14:20
It’s a simple game Danny, made a lot more difficult by a lot of simple people! (Which is why It’s more of a problem than a challenge!)

Win at all costs, is often the complete opposite of learn at all costs, which is something I think you might have already learned on your travels, judging by what you post on a subject that sounds like it burns very strongly inside of you mate?

Danny O’Neill
27 Posted 25/07/2021 at 18:17:55
It totally triggers me Tony. Especially the win at all costs mentality and especially at youth level.

But I'm trying hard not to repeat myself.

Too often!

I'll learn to say the same thing in slightly re-worded ways like a good politician!!

Tony Abrahams
28 Posted 25/07/2021 at 18:50:00
My own view is that most of these academies are ran as a business, which doesn’t seem to have enough time or money for nurture, plus they are definitely recruiting kids way to early for it to make any sense whatsoever imo.

Kids can sign for a professional club, from the age of eight. why oh why oh why? For so many people, this means stars in their eyes, especially because they’re just not aware of how brutal professional football is, and kids are being rejected well before they’ve got two numbers in their age, by a process of elimination, that shows how brutal the sport really is.

The facilities are getting better at grass roots Danny, quite a few Astro turf pitches have been built across the city of Liverpool over the last few years, which definitely helps the younger kids, but this is England, and the seven and eight year olds, will soon be playing in the depths of winter again, which is another thing that doesn’t sit pretty with me, for obvious reasons.

Danny O’Neill
29 Posted 25/07/2021 at 19:09:25
Sucking them into top academies at that age is way too early Tony. Let them grow, develop naturally and most importantly, enjoy football without it all being about the pressure of making it.

I like 3G or 5G pitches or whatever iteration they are at now Tony. It makes kids stay on their feet and pass the ball. Similar to the clay pitches many continental teams have their kids train and a on.

Tony Abrahams
30 Posted 25/07/2021 at 19:40:11
I prefer grass for the kids Danny, but only in the warmer months for obvious reasons, so I’d have to agree that these pitches are better mate. I definitely think they are more beneficial in helping the skillful kids, but as for staying on your feet I always thought the sliding tackle was a great leveler for us slower footballers, especially in the rain!!
Danny O’Neill
31 Posted 25/07/2021 at 20:16:14
Nothing like a slide tackle in the rain, Tony. As long as you time it right. When you do, it gets the adrenaline pumping. When you don't, it's a free-kick or you get skinned and left on your arse!!

When I look back, it was interesting as a young kid playing in the German system. Always trained and played on clay. Grass was a treat if we got to a cup final or played one of the bigger teams. I revisited a few years back. Will see if I can upload some photos, bear in mind this was a village club that was part of a broader Sports Club (Sport Verein - SV), as in Hamburg SV, which is common in Germany. And they've had this since the 1980s, which explains a lot.

Robert Tressell
32 Posted 25/07/2021 at 20:50:27
We've had this discussion (how) many times. The coaching can always be better – true of La Masia as much as Finch Farm. And I won't be content until the first XI is well stocked with local(-ish) talent. But that's not a criticism of any particular coach.

As it happens, I think the coach we have most visibility of is the least important. Players who have that bit of magic will generally bypass the U23s. It all starts much, much earlier.

And I think Brands has things better organised now and I'm optimistic about quite a number of the current academy players. A new name is starting to feature in that optimistic outlook: Isaac Heath. Phill mentioned him the other day and he's on the scoresheet.

Seems like our most talented are being fast-tracked into the U18s and U23s at very young ages now. It's a much better pathway.

Hopefully Heath and a good number of others will find their way into the first team in the next few seasons.

Bill Griffiths
33 Posted 25/07/2021 at 20:50:59
Tony A, Danny & one or two others who post in a similar vein…

I enjoy reading your posts regarding the failings of grass roots coaching etc and I fully agree with nearly all of what you say.

My experience has been that, while the whole system is wrong, a lot of the blame lies with a lot of the parents and coaches and people who run grassroots boys and youth teams.

In the mid '80s early '90s, I was involved in the running of boys youth teams in the village where I live. We are only a small village and, for most of the time, our sides were not as strong as the majority of teams in the league.

There were usually one or two managers of the stronger teams who, when playing us, would start the game with a lot of their… let's say, 'weaker' players… and then introduce their stronger players either at half-time or maybe near the hour-mark dependent on how the game was going. This helped the weaker sides like ourselves remain a bit more competitive.

However, the majority of the other coaches would field their strongest team from start to finish, resulting in weaker sides like us receiving hammerings, sometimes into double figures.

Also, when we started out, players had to sign for either their own village or a side within a 2- to 3-mile radius. Eventually, the coaches of the stronger teams managed to get the rules amended that players could sign for any team in the county, meaning the stronger teams got even stronger and the weaker ones even weaker.

Most of the parents of a lot of the boys playing were of the same ideas as the coaches. I just stopped my involvement as most of the coaches were in it for their own personal glory, as opposed to helping the boys.

Andy Crooks
34 Posted 25/07/2021 at 21:28:19
Danny, could this be a scouting problem rather than a coaching issue? Do scouts have a blueprint that they must find players to fit? Will they go back and look again and again? What makes a good scout? Must they reach targets?

Would the scrawny George Best get a chance now? (He would because he was a genius, I guess.)

But how about Charlie George, Charlie Cook or even someone like Jamie Vardy? We need to find and invest in people who can find talent. Not those who can, in racing terms, find the winner that the whole world knows about.

Often this is someone who has never done great things but can sense those who can. They can sense talent like a spook bone in the arm telling someone there is trouble ahead.

I have met two such people in my life. They are rare but available because the rest are standing on the sidelines watching the big kid who has scored 50 goals in 20 games. The flat-track bully who will go to the highest bidder.

Danny O’Neill
35 Posted 25/07/2021 at 21:49:59
Bill @33, your experience is in common with what I've seen and witnessed and what Tony calls out as win at all costs. Too many so called youth coaches are more interested in winning an U-12s trophy for their own egos over developing young footballers. Subsequently they will select players who are bigger and more powerful at that age, but not necessarily the best footballers. Forget selection, at that age group, I was more interested in what I done on the training ground. The weekly fixture was just practice in a game scenario as far as I was concerned.

I think it's a bit off both Andy @34. The scouting system, but also the coaching system. And to reiterate, I'm talking lower down the pyramid. Linked to above, we should be looking for the skilful players who have ability, not just those who are bigger and faster. There is merit in both, but ultimately the key is in the name. Football. What can they do with a football, not how fast they can run?

Football development and physical development will come at different stages for different people. What you don't want to be doing is ruling out a talented player at 14 simply because he isn't big enough.

Back to earlier points, so many factors go in to the development of footballers. But then that's life in general right?

Jay Wood

36 Posted 25/07/2021 at 22:09:22
Some quaint notions on the scouting and recruitment of young players being expressed on here.

Sadly, the industry (for that is what it now is) of global scouting is more akin to a Russian super trawler that scrapes the seabed for its fish stock, indifferent to the quality of its catch, concerned only with the quantity.

That they both denude and pollute the oceans and just dump the majority of their unwanted catch and detritus back into the waters is of no concern to them.

There is an entire industry in professional football that clubs access of database agencies listing players of all ages at all levels.

There are no hidden gems to be found any more. All the monied clubs seeking the next CR7 in Portugal, or the new Lionel Messi in Argentina will know of such potential of each and every one of them at a very early age.

Whether any of them make it or not is down to many factors and not solely the quality of their coaching at junior level, or even at a professional club. Out and out luck being one of them.

Tony Abrahams
37 Posted 26/07/2021 at 08:49:54
That’s football Bill, and it’s similar to what goes on at these academies when you really break it down mate.

Everyone wants the best players for obvious reasons, especially if it’s not the coaches fault if you don’t get him the best players to work with!

I’m being a little bit sarcastic, but it’s funny Andy, I actually spoke to a lad I’ve known for years on Saturday, and he was telling me he’d quit being an Everton scout after 20 years, and he was the one who helped get Tom Davies to Everton, and he was telling me they actually rejected the kid quite a few times, before finally taking a chance on him.

Tom Davies isn’t the best but he’s probably the most determined. The stick he’s taken from the crowd would have killed most young players, and this is where I personally think the academies could really change and get more out of certain kids, by identifying certain traits that are so important, and then becoming a bit more personal, with regards to giving more personal and extra development training, at whatever attributes these young players really need to improve?

Of course this will take more time, and a bit more money, but these clubs are rich, and you can’t spend to much time with young talent imo, and just because it’s a team sport, it doesn’t mean that these personal aspects should ever be neglected, especially because it’s so important imo. It’s how I see things anyway!

Robert Tressell
38 Posted 26/07/2021 at 11:05:56
The problem is british football culture. A lot of what we hold dear isn't really conducive to development of technique and sophisticated play.

In my late teens I went on a lads holiday to Spain. We ended up having a kick about with some Spanish lads on the beach. They were all talented - good technique, good dribblers and moved the ball around in one twos until someone was presented with a tap in.

We knocked the ball long, I scored a load of headers completely unchallenged and you could see they thought our tackling (part of the fun for us) was completely out of order so we eased off.

You could tell they'd never encountered that style of football in their lives - and considered it an appalling way to play the game.

To me that's UK youth football in a nutshell - still in the dark ages of playing a game for fun without ever really mastering it. It then becomes playing a game to win without ever really mastering it.

It means a lot of those with ability drop out because they can't live with the physicality (or just stop enjoying it after being repeatedly kicked over or bypassed as the ball gets booted up and down a big pitch).

Danny O’Neill
39 Posted 26/07/2021 at 14:16:05
Wasn't sure of the best place for this. But seeing as we've discussed coaches such as Unsworth here, and on previous discussions, the merits of both he and Duncan going to earn their managerial spurs elsewhere before being considered for the Everton hotseat, seemed the most recent and appropriate.

Interesting to watch John Terry's coaching and manager career pan out. Assistant at Villa after playing for them in his twighlight but really being a Chelsea legend. Now announces he is leaving to pursue his managerial ambition.

No direct links as yet but linked with Celtic & Bournemouth.


Steve Ferns
40 Posted 26/07/2021 at 14:32:52
Amazing to see another load of people who criticise the youth setup without knowing what they are talking about. People discuss youth recruitment and fail to know that Everton have just finished a ban on signing players!

Sure Man Utd and Chelsea and Ajax have great setups but all three just take whoever they want from their rivals. Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea all break the rules far more than Everton do. There was a great Radio 5 documentary on what the Manchester clubs were doing to poach players for their academies, and yes from Everton. They offer a first class education for the duration, even if the boy is released he stays in their fancy private school. How can a parent say no. Everton tried to offer such inducements, we got caught, and we got banned from signing kids.

Back to the game, it's worth noting that we won this game with our best player, Charlie Whittaker, still just 17, sat on the bench for Everton's first team, whilst Thierry Small, still just 16 is AWOL still (about to sign for Villa in 5 days time), and a few others playing for the u23s whilst the likes of Broadhead, Gibson, Gordon and co are with the first team.

Danny O’Neill
41 Posted 26/07/2021 at 14:41:25
I don't know about criticising Steve. I see a lot of interesting debate on youth football in general. My gripe hasn't necessarily been with Everton, mote the feeder system beneath it and I spent 6 years coaching with what was at one point a then Conference team

I'm more concerned about our (English Football) youth development that gets kids to the likes of Finch Farm in the first place at the right time.

Steve Ferns
42 Posted 26/07/2021 at 15:01:22
The England wide problem, Danny, has always been taking the talent England has at 16 or even 17 and improving it to Premier League levels and beyond. I think one of the biggest problems is hunger. At 17 a Premier League superstar kid often has millions of followers on Instagram or their preferred social media account, more money than they dreamed of in the bank, an army of hangers on blowing smoke up their arses, the poor kid has too many temptations to maintain the work levels needed to make it to the very top.
Danny O’Neill
43 Posted 26/07/2021 at 16:09:00
I have no idea why, but your last post Steve, has just made me think back to when I had a young kid who at 16 was chasing the dream beyond anything I've witnessed. Nothing wrong with that, we all have or have had dreams and aspirations. I'd coached him from 12 years old. Young from lad from a northern Afghan family and a great player.

Now I never used to mind the scouts from Watford, Brentford and occasionally Tottenham sniffing around; we all want lads to get opportunity right, and we were a well known club in the area. The senior team were predominantly in the Conference South during my time, but did spend time in the Conference. They brought through Liam Feeney around then, so not too shabby a standard. He still visits his in-laws across the road where I live.

But at 16, this boy from a council estate, was that desperate, he was paying an advisor; an agent effectively. And he wasn't the only one.

Kids being exploited and promised the world in my opinion; they (advisor) would get them trials that very rarely materialised. I say I didn't know why, but I guess what it shows is to your point. Young players have their heads turned by external factors and think too much about the dream rather than what they do in training or on the pitch? They're trying to act like superstars before they've even been spotted, which distracts from focussing on enjoying football.

Tony Abrahams
44 Posted 26/07/2021 at 16:54:48
I think there has been some interesting debate Danny, and honestly don’t see that much criticism really, but sometimes people perceive things differently, and tell us some things we already know, and then add that we don’t know what we are on about!
Justin Doone
45 Posted 26/07/2021 at 23:16:47
Football is a results business. Academies need to do well. That means winning and competing at the top of their academy leagues.

If club's could forget that and just purely concentrate on improving individuals that may help.

But how do you know they are doing well, season after season, if they can't compete well as a team against fellow Academies?

If you answer, have a high percentage play for the first team that's true but.. the better the first team, the harder it is for any youngster. A top class youngster may stand out in most teams, but not in a top team.

Players and most professionals develop better and quicker in the real 'competitive' world. They need to be given a fair chance, loans can be the making or breaking of a player.

All that said, our previous short-term-ism, changes of managers, coaches, playing style and general lack of stability didn’t help. I'm trusting Brands is improving this as I type.

Tony Abrahams
46 Posted 27/07/2021 at 09:02:23
I think when people start writing about this type of subject, you can take a little pieces that are very interesting to debate imo.

I think that education is very important, and once I was guaranteed an apprenticeship whilst still at school, I practically gave up on my own education, so what the bigger clubs are offering, should be brought in across the board imo, and clubs should also be made to, and even more importantly want to educate their young players, because they know that only a small percentage of these kids are going to make the grade.

This could change with education, and allow more of the kids who don’t become footballers, a much better chance of success in whatever career path they choose, because life can become very hard for some kids who don’t achieve their dream, and have also neglected their education.

Players develop quicker and better in a competitive environment, is another thing that stands out to me. I’d say English kids would possibly be the most competitive in the world because of the nature of our environment, but because other nations are more inclined to concentrate on different aspects of football in younger children, this changes as they get older, and because they’ve been educated more in the technical side of the game, they grow up being a lot more comfortable on the ball?

Danny O’Neill
47 Posted 27/07/2021 at 09:31:20
I'd say so with regards to your last point Tony. But they are also competitive. We arguably concentrate too much on the competitiveness.

I would also add tactical awareness to that. I and a few other Army mates used to play, and get paid, for a local team in Germany when stationed there.

Now, having spent time as a youngster there, I was used to their physical approach and man-marking, but it used to frustrate the hell out of the other British players. We don't have the monopoly on physical, we just think we try harder. They are just more intelligent in how they use it. The man-marking in particular used to irritate a lot of the Brits to the point they would be carded or sent off because they flashed at the player literally shadowing them around the pitch.

More comfortable on the ball? Definitely. They combine technical, tactical and physical in a way we don't.

I'm being hugely generalist there, but hopefully it makes sense.

Tony Abrahams
48 Posted 27/07/2021 at 09:41:16
It makes a lot more sense than my post, Danny!

Sam Hoare
49 Posted 27/07/2021 at 19:31:44
Some on here get very defensive when the academy is questioned but I find it hard not to do so. The output over the last 5/6/7/8 years does not stack up that favourably with other teams in the top half of the table. Of course some of those clubs outstrip us considerably in terms of resources and profile. But still I would have expected a bit more from us and I think there are teams of similar resources who seem to produce more.

Of course this pertains to coaching and recruitment; at all levels. The idea that all good players are snaffled up by age 12 or whatever does not quite hold true. After all we were offered Haaland not that long ago.

Stale Haverstadlokken
50 Posted 27/07/2021 at 21:48:20
If we had a scouting problem, we couldn't attract real talents and do well in youth leagues. But we do! So our scouting should be descent.

Do the Academy promote enough players to our first team? Hard to say, we have to compare to other clubs. We have let youngsters go and after few years we see them back in the league, but some are late bloomers. DCL, Stones, Braithwaite, Holgate are players coming through and done well so we aren't bad. I personally think Undie is the right man to make the Academy ready for the next step that will get us more players to our first team

Steve Ferns
51 Posted 27/07/2021 at 22:00:56
Stale we did have a scouting problem. We were banned from signing players between the ages of 10 to 18 for two years until 2020. So this ban only finished a year ago, around which time we brought in the head of recruitment from the very successful Derby Academy to oversee a different system. Hopefully we will see some fruits soon.
Sam Hoare
52 Posted 27/07/2021 at 22:24:54
Stale, doing well in youth leagues is only relevant as a means to an end. High level academies are measured by the players they produce to do well in the first team or the money they can sell those players for.

We’ve had some success in bringing in younger players recently with Stones and DCL being maybe the best examples. Difficult to know exactly who scouted them but they certainly didn’t spend long playing in academy sides as both were featuring heavily for the first team in their first year.

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