Hammers hand out another defeat to Everton U23s

Saturday, 2 October, 2021 20comments  |  Jump to last
West Ham Utd U23s 3 - 1 Everton U23s

David Unsworth's Under-23 side came unstuck again, this time at West Ham United, sinking to their fifth defeat of the Premier League 2 season.

West Ham scored 2 goals before the half-hour mark but Stan Mills got one back before the break. However, West Ham went further ahead with a goal just after the hour to chalk up another 3-1 loss for the young Blues.

Everton U23s: Barrett, John, Campbell (81' McAllister), Astley, Welch [Y:80'], Butterfield, Mills, Hunt [Y:69'], Kouyate (67' Cannon), Price, Hughes.
Subs not Used: Stewart, Anderson, Warrington.


Reader Comments (20)

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Michael Kenrick
1 Posted 02/10/2021 at 20:00:32
The fifth 3-1 loss of the season. U23s have won only one game in PL2, lost 5 out of 7. Not looking good for David Unsworth.
Brent Stephens
2 Posted 02/10/2021 at 20:09:24
Unsworth switched to a back four for this game?
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
3 Posted 02/10/2021 at 20:20:53
Does an Under-23 manager get sacked because of poor performances like a first XI manager would be sacked?

There has been lots of criticism on here of a team which wins the league and produces nobody for the Premier League. I would quite happily take lots of defeats and 2 or 3 players making the grade.

Is Brands taking the long view on this (which is what they do in the Netherlands) and getting in younger kids, giving them experience and moving them out quicker. Will take time, but is that the plan?

Brent Stephens
4 Posted 02/10/2021 at 20:30:05
Phil, I'd agree. While there is still developmental work to do with a first team squad (especially, but not only, the younger ones), the main purpose is to win points. The reverse is true for the U23s, I feel.

Dobbin getting some game time already; but I was a bit surprised by Whitaker being on the bench today, ahead of, say, Warrington. Is this maybe motivational, giving as many U23s as possible a taste of the atmosphere at a (big) first-team game?

Tony Abrahams
5 Posted 02/10/2021 at 20:32:48
I'd say that this is definitely the plan, Phil, and I'd also say it's too early to be having a go at anyone just yet. Maybe England is much more competitive than Holland, especially when it comes to physicality?

So maybe these very young kids, need a couple of older, wiser and stronger players to help them along, especially because the same faces seem to be playing most games?

Mike Oates
6 Posted 03/10/2021 at 15:25:13
Brands has clearly stopped the U23s being a shop window for many of Unsworth's past favourites – Pennington, Baxter, Feeney, and loads of others who weren't good enough for the first team, maybe failed in loans and came back and Unsy gave them a platform hopefully to be picked up and given a career in League One or League Two.

The problem was they blocked the pathway for potential 17- and 18-year-olds. Brands, after 3 years, had had enough and wants far younger age profiles in the U18s and U23s and to test these youngsters against older, better, more physical lads. It's the right way as, if you don't, you lose some good potential – the lad just gone to Southampton and a couple gone abroad.

Robert Tressell
7 Posted 04/10/2021 at 13:33:44
Tony, on that, Southampton have bought a 32-year-old free transfer from (?) Swindon to be a ringer for the U23s. Man Utd have 35-year-old McShane as player-coach for the same reason.

Not a bad idea.

I'll always come back to the point that the U23s is a bit of a broken concept.

Sam Hoare
8 Posted 04/10/2021 at 13:45:34
Been a bit if an ongoing debate on this points but all that matters to my mind is that the academy produces players either for profit or to get playing time for the first team. In the last 5 years or so we have mostly struggled on both these fronts.

Results and position in the U23 league does not matter a jot so long as the right players are being developed in the right way. The amount of talent coming out of some of the richer academies (Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, Man Utd etc) has been impressive in recent years, we may never match that due to the difference in resources but we should be closer than we currently are.

Phill Thompson
9 Posted 04/10/2021 at 14:56:36

Indeed we should be closer than we are. We don't put in the same amount of resources as Man City and Chelsea, but our bar is currently set lower. The likes of Mount and Foden were good enough to play in a Champions League Final and internationals at a young age, yet struggled initially to earn their place in teams packed with world class players.

Our youngsters don't need to be of that quality to get into our team, so in some ways it should be easier, but it isn't.

Phil Smith
10 Posted 04/10/2021 at 17:48:11
Unfortunately, with all the upheaval at our gaff over the last 5 years, no prospect is gonna wanna come anywhere near us if he's really good. They'll go to sides where the path to the first team is laid out. Either via multiple loans to lesser leagues, like Chelsea, or sides that traditionally give youth a chance, like Southampton.
Michael Kenrick
11 Posted 04/10/2021 at 21:12:42
Talking of Southampton, it may be illuminating to check in on one Thierry Small now and again as the season progresses.

Turns out Southampton U23s seem to have their priorities in the right place. No silly meaningless trophy pursuits for them: they are rock bottom of PL2 Division 2 after 6 games: 5 losses and 1 point.

But Small has been only minimally involved. Started one game and was hauled off on the hour mark as they lost 2-0. So yea, great pathway to the first-team...

Small is the only 17-year-old listed in their squad, so I checked to see if he had been playing for their U18s, who have a better record in U18 PL (South)... but no, he's not been playing for them.

Phill Thompson
12 Posted 05/10/2021 at 09:56:03
Scary, Michael.

I was looking at PL2 the other day and also decided to check out Small. As you say, he's played in two matches so far, so a degree of fitness even if not fully fit. But the facts remain, this is a poor U23s side playing in the Second Division of the PL2, one below us. He may well train with their first team this season but I doubt he'll get many Premier League minutes so most of his game time will be at U23s in a lower division.

But I'm not going to indulge in any of that schaden-watsit, we're currently second bottom in PL2 Divison 1; Derby County are bottom, with Chelsea and Liverpool sitting just above us both with older and better resources than us to help them pull clear.

I guess the much vaunted, and quoted, Chelsea model can hit problems too; they obviously need to sack their U23s manager. Two teams are relegated.

Michael Kenrick
13 Posted 05/10/2021 at 10:05:50
By strange coincidence, there's a Hampshire Live update on him here this morning:

Southampton provide update on defender Thierry Small after slow start following Everton transfer

Seems you're right: fitness is the issue... à la Rondon, he hasn't played for 4 months and has a long trek back to full-match fitness.

[Danny will be interested to see Southampton U23s referred to as "Saints B" in this story.]

Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 05/10/2021 at 11:59:49
I'd agree (or like to think) that Brands's plan is longer-term.

I won't repeat my views on the U23 system and what I think should happen; I've done it to death. But if we have it, I don't care too much for results, it should be about performances and individual development.

I guess this is as good a place as any to put it but, for those who have a subscription to The Athletic, have a read of the Jose Baxter article. Stark, open and revealing about growing up in the elite academy bubble (which he refers to as such). Achieving life-long dreams, but sacrificing a normal young life to the point he went off the rails through boredom, temptation and influences from his past life and some other professionals around him.

I'm not one to insist on the cohort at Finch Farm being full of ex-players because they played for Everton and are Evertonians. Far from it. But I genuinely hope he takes this opportunity and does well. If it's with Everton, then great. Either way, if he's as dedicated as he seems to be, then he will have a lot to offer football. Both as a coach and sadly as a person, educating young players on how not to do it. But that's important too.

Phill Thompson
16 Posted 05/10/2021 at 14:48:22
Michael & Danny,

Brentford have scrapped their Academy in favour of a B Team and QPR have this season launched their B Team with the words “a bespoke programme will see the B Team play against a range of EFL, non-league & European clubs, as well as other B teams.” QPR still have an U23s team competing in leagues and cups. I'm not sure how Southampton B team works.

I could see a B Team working for us, particularly after Christmas when fixtures lessen for the U23s & U18s and the youngsters have more experience at all ages. We “simply” move them up an age: Schoolboys / U16s dominate the U18 teams; best 1st years and best Schoolboys play U23s with a few older players to help; our best 2nd years play for the B Team against older opponents.

It won't happen, of course, and if it did, the U23s would definitely be relegated. I could live with that if youngsters were coming through. And relegation would give TWers their chance to vent. One week, it could be Brands's fault, the next week Unsworth's:

“It's all Unsworth's fault for playing a bunch of 28-year-olds just so he can win a meaningless trophy for his CV. Small would have stayed but Unsworth blocked his route by playing Pennington at left-back.”

ps: I noticed that Small has No 16 and is classed as being with the first team, not their B team.

Michael Kenrick
17 Posted 05/10/2021 at 15:47:39
Wow, Phill, that is an end-run that has me totally befuddled. I did not see that coming at all.

I had no idea clubs were so advanced in terms of taking this player development business into their own hands and presumably arranging games between each other because they have to be (to my limited knowledge at any rate) operating outside of the sanctioned league structures available to them?

Phill Thompson
18 Posted 05/10/2021 at 16:01:33
Michael, I think it’s only the three (Brentford, QPR, Southampton) who have B Teams at the moment and they all seem to work slightly differently. Brentford appear to operate outside the sanctioned Leagues, but QPR and Southampton within it. I picked up Brentford from GOT and aThe Athletic podcast, then had a look at QPR. The cost of the Academy was a factor for Brentford.
Phill Thompson
19 Posted 05/10/2021 at 16:08:29
Danny #15, I read the Jose Baxter article a good read. He got so much stick when we took him back for the U23s. Fortunately the same people rarely show enough interest to realise he's back working as a coach or the old “get rid, jobs for the boys” comments will be back. The article suggests he's got the potential to be a good coach; good luck to him.
Andrew Ellams
20 Posted 05/10/2021 at 16:17:27
I like the idea of a structured 2nd tier system where fringe 1st team players could get more game time alongside the better youngsters.

I firmly believe that the old Central League system worked better for the development of younger players than this U23 academy system because they played regular football against experienced, older and stronger opponents.

The only potential downside now is that first-team squads are so much bigger there are more senior players in the way than we had 30+ years ago so some rule may have to be put in place to enforce a minimum number of U23s in a starting XI to make it work.

Danny O’Neill
21 Posted 05/10/2021 at 17:00:12
I read Brentford's developments with interest Phill. Didn't realise that QPR were following a similar path, but they're not too far apart geographically so I guess they may talk to each other as clubs and swap ideas.

Yes, they're getting better experience against more competitive teams, but it's till a step short of what I would do if we introduced the B Team construct. To Michael's point, what they're effectively doing with their B Teams is outside a league construct and arranging friendlies. Okay, QPR are doing both. That's what it feels like to me.

Now you've hooked me and here I go again!! My view is more of an overhaul of the English football structure where the B Teams are playing in the actual competitive league system with promotion and relegation and the ability to challenge for a cup a possibility.

To echo your sentiment though, Phill, it won't happen. But I'll keep banging my hollow drum!

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