Next Generation 2021: Jenson Metcalfe

Monday, 11 October, 2021 37comments  |  Jump to last
In The Guardian's annual Next Generation 2021 feature, where they chose the best young talent at each Premier League club, Andy Hunter has gone for Jenson Metcalfe:

A real competitor with an outstanding passing range, the Wigan-born midfielder joined Everton at under-5 level and recently signed his first professional contract with the club days after his 17th birthday.

Metcalfe can play off both feet, has impressive technical ability and is a dead-ball specialist. He can also score a variety of goals and intercepts or regains possession with fierce intensity.

At 16, he broke into the under-18s team this year and scored twice in 10 outings. There was also a debut for the under-23s in April. Metcalfe has said of his game: "I see myself as a tempo-setter, so I look up to Sergio Busquets. He's so relaxed on the ball.”

» Read the full article at The Guardian

Reader Comments (37)

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James Flynn
1 Posted 11/10/2021 at 23:52:29
Since 2014, our players named were:

2014 - Kieran Dowell
2015 - Antony Evans
2016 - Alex Denny
2017 - Anthony Gordon
2018 - Ryan Astley
2019 - Lewis Dobbin
2020 - Reece Welch

Not too shabby.

Paul Kernot
2 Posted 12/10/2021 at 01:48:49
Interesting list, James. The last two currently look as if they may make it. If you remove the name from The Guardian reporters description, you could have been describing a young Ross Barkley.
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
3 Posted 12/10/2021 at 07:24:37
He can also score a variety of goals and intercepts . . . .

Does that make him a Jensen Interceptor?

Do I need a coat or is warm outside?

Tony Abrahams
4 Posted 12/10/2021 at 07:42:04
It might be nice for the kids who see their names on these lists, but that’s about it really.
John Pickles
5 Posted 12/10/2021 at 10:09:24
Please tell me that's a Typo and that there really isn't an Under-5 level.
Michael Kenrick
6 Posted 12/10/2021 at 10:38:26
From that list @1, the first three have all moved on... but not really advanced.

Despite remaining a solid regular at U23 level with Everton, Antony Evans wasn't able to make the step up and, with his contract set to expire in the summer of 2020, he secured a permanent move to SC Paderborn 07 in Germany on a 2½-year deal during the January transfer window of that year, having never played for the Everton first team.

He made a handful of appearances for the German club, then agreeing to a loan move back to England for half a season with Crewe Alexander. In August 2021, he joined Bristol Rovers on a free transfer.

Michael Kenrick
7 Posted 12/10/2021 at 10:41:12
Alex Denny would be involved in a good number of games for Everton at Under-23 level during the truncated 2019-20 season but would only complete 4 full games in that entire time. At just 20 years old, he left the club in June 2020 when his contract ran down, subsequently joining Salford City.

Denny made his league debut for Salford in October 2020 and appeared 13 times in total, spending the second half of the season on loan at Morecambe. He made 6 appearances as the Shrimps won promotion to League One via the play-offs.

David Pearl
8 Posted 12/10/2021 at 10:54:03
A dead-ball specialist! Can anyone remember the last direct free-kick we scored?
Danny O’Neill
9 Posted 12/10/2021 at 11:01:02
I can't David, but I do believe that in Digne and Sigurdsson (I know), we have 2 of the best around.

Also, I know it was open play, but I wouldn't mind seeing Townsend stepping up if we get a free kick in a dangerous position.

The list is interesting but doesn't tell us a lot as we just don't know. Only Dobbin (still to be seen) and Gordon (flirting with the first team squad) stand out.

For those who pay more attention, how is young Warrington fairing? I like the look of him.

David Pearl
10 Posted 12/10/2021 at 11:07:41
Danny, was this the last one?

I can only ever remember Sigurdsson hitting the bar or post.

Townsend is a good shout but may be behind Digne when both fit.

Phill Thompson
11 Posted 12/10/2021 at 11:28:33
It's an obvious choice as Metcalfe has been the most consistent of our new Scholars intake and has looked impressive in the games I've seen him. He had a well taken goal in the last U18 game.

Perhaps his standout match was when he made his debut for the U23s as a schoolboy last season. He looked very composed for one so young and it was his curving through-ball to Bowler that resulted in Bowler being brought down for a penalty and our goal.

He signed pro forms recently on his 17th birthday. A long way to go yet and there's a lot of competition for midfield spots but I'd expect him to be playing regularly for the U23s after Christmas, if not before.

Michael Kenrick
12 Posted 12/10/2021 at 11:31:30
More on the trials and tribulations of Academy football, this is a feature on Mathew Mallon:

Meet the teenage Everton defender being fast-tracked after injury hell

My distaste for the Red Echo kept me from reading it yesterday but it's another harrowing injury story that must be so difficult for these young lads. Sounds like he's bounced back well enough to get back on track.

Barry Hesketh
13 Posted 12/10/2021 at 11:46:52
Danny according to the official Premier League site, Digne was the last player to score directly from a free-kick in a league game for Everton, on Boxing Day 2018.

Burnley v EFC 1-5

Robert Tressell
14 Posted 12/10/2021 at 18:15:53
I haven't yet seen him play but excited about doing so.

It's a really good crop of players at the minute but with no obvious stars. Hopefully someone really kicks on.

Peter Warren
15 Posted 12/10/2021 at 19:26:43
We're shit at scoring goals from free-kicks.
David Currie
16 Posted 12/10/2021 at 20:26:12
We need Sheedy back on free kicks!
Peter Warren
17 Posted 12/10/2021 at 21:06:15
Agreed, Baines was decent too
John Raftery
18 Posted 12/10/2021 at 21:40:37
Sigurdsson has not scored from a direct free-kick in the Premier League since he joined us in 2017.
David Pearl
19 Posted 12/10/2021 at 22:04:36
Baines matched Sheedy, scoring twice in a row, so not too shabby. Of coursem Arteta was up there too.

Slim Pickings... anyone remember him?

Danny O’Neill
20 Posted 13/10/2021 at 06:36:07
Sorry David, not having that. No-one matches Sheedy!!

He's up there with Cruyff and Maradona.

Right, the dogs are crying. Time to head out.

Tony Abrahams
21 Posted 13/10/2021 at 08:30:36
Because the title of this thread is about the next generation, I've just read that Everton are looking into employing a data analyst NBA style, to look into future transfers. This is good, but can this type of analysis tap into how a person lives their life, and to find out what type of character or personality and willpower they have?

I also read about a nutritionist that Klopp headhunted for Liverpool to employ (very interesting) because it now seems that how a player lives his life with regards to constantly refueling and putting the right supplements into his body has now become a very important extension of their training schedule.

Robert Tressell
22 Posted 13/10/2021 at 09:03:37
Tony, in short, data analytics will not replace human judgement - but they can enhance it.

They can also tell you a lot more about character and personality than you might expect - if you have access to the right breadth of data.

For example, Banks have AI analytics that are now sophisticated enough to accurately predict divorce sometimes before either of the parties is consciously aware of marital problems. This is because changes in spending, savings etc patterns provide the truth that won't otherwise be detected.

In football, it need not just be about goals, assists and running stats. Social media can be 'mined' for indicators of behaviour (as happens routinely in recruitment these days) and I expect there are other sources too.

Anything we can do in this regard for a marginal gain seems entirely positive to me.

Football has seemed remarkably slapdash in it's approach to spending money because people trust their judgement without the sort of due diligence and analysis you'd routinely do before investing many millions.

It's also been slapdash with it's investments after the point of purchase.

Gerard Houllier brought in dentists to improve the overall injury record at the RS years ago.

I expect the next big thing will be around neurodiversity & mental health - since football seems to produce a lot of troubled geniuses who don't fulfil potential.

David Pearl
23 Posted 13/10/2021 at 09:10:07
Tony, they could just spend £40 on the new FM2022 – it has all they need to know.

On nutrition, l know clubs have their own chefs and the clubs work with the players on getting the most out of them by trying to educate them but it's ultimately down to the individual. I used to know some top players from a certain southerm Spanish club that liked the white stuff and lbiza parties whenever they had 3 days off.

These youngsters have to have that single mindedness to succeed, something l never did. Reading up on George Green is a bit of a downer. One thing about today is that it's hopefully getting easier for players to have support if they need it.

Danny O’Neill
24 Posted 13/10/2021 at 09:47:35
Going down an interesting route this one.

I'm employed in Cyber Security, so I'm well versed with data analysis and Artificial Intelligence. That's a buzzword by the way – we're not there yet, it's really Machine Learning and the term AI has been around since the '50s.

Back to the football. The game has steadily been becoming more scientific. I feel unclean saying this, but Allardyce was one of the early adopters.

Small margins in lifestyle make a huge difference in performance at the highest levels in modern sport. Gone are the showmen of the '70s with their increasing beer bellies or George Best being able to jink, twist and turn despite being half-pissed!!

The amount of data available now and online profiles does indeed allow us to better analyse and profile individual players. But, as Robert says, it's what data you have available and also, how you analyse it. A big collection of data without analysis is just a big collection of dumb, meaningless data unless you turn it into meaningful intelligence to inform decision-making. But ultimately, it will still be a human making the decision. That will never be replaced.

The point on mental health is very interesting. That leans me towards the thought of restructuring football and the academy systems. These kids are almost imprisoned in the system from a very young age with a normal life stripped from them as they chase the dream. If they deviate from the very strict lives they must lead to potentially get there, they are chastised. No wonder so many go off the rails or are hung out to dry.

Deep for a Wednesday morning, but interesting discussion.

Brian Harrison
25 Posted 13/10/2021 at 10:04:50
There is no doubt that clubs are looking at all the sciences to help them produce athletes that will give them the best chance to succeed, however small that improvement might be. These players are monitored on a daily basis to make sure they are eating the right food and (as important) getting the rest and recovery they need.

Most clubs, certainly in the Premier League, have kids as young as 7 and some have kids even younger, so I would imagine that these kids, by the time they get to say 16, the club should know if they are likely to make the first-team ranks.

But many of these boys are then told "Sorry, son, we are letting you go," and what a massive psychological blow that must be, having spent years at the club progressing through the different age groups, then at the tender age of 16 being told you are being released.

I think it's totally wrong for clubs to take kids under the age of 15; these kids believe they are going to get a professional contract but most clubs know that a very high percentage will be let go. Now if you can only get kids above 15, they haven't had years of that expectation by both themselves and parents.

Tony Abrahams
26 Posted 13/10/2021 at 10:50:25
It's mad, David.

I also read up on George Green, and saw that someone who he gets in touch with for help on a regular basis is a very old friend of mine, somebody that I lost contact with years ago.

I then read a few articles about my mate, and it made me feel really bad because I'm genuinely certain that I was the one person who would have confronted him over his demons a lot earlier, although whether I'd have been able to help him is another matter.

I'm not sure those top players could still get away with a few days on the yay-yo, but I suppose that's why the Premier League is the hardest league in the world, because it's relentlessly physical, and anyone trying to burn the candle at both ends would have to be extremely talented to get away with it for too long, imo. Although I also think that, for a lot of human beings, having a blowout from time to time must definitely help the mind.

I agree it's down to the individual, and that's why a lot of the more successful players have their own chefs nowadays, because nutrition seems to be an absolutely massive part of life, in a sport that has become unbelievably rich with regards the financial rewards now on offer to even average performers.

We are all also aware of remarkable percentage of Liverpool players who are asthmatic, but maybe their performance has also been really enhanced by their nutrition, which seems to leave no stone unturned, to help the players reach their peaks. If this is the case, it doesn't matter who you learn from because, in the words of Alex Ferguson, football is about knocking teams off their perch!

Danny O’Neill
27 Posted 13/10/2021 at 11:12:09
Brian @25, agree with just about all of that. Especially allowing kids to be tracked by clubs but not owned by them until a certain age.

My wife and sister worked for Liverpool in the ticket office. I can't recall the year, but it was the FA Cup Final when Cantona scored the winner. They were taken down as part of the club day out. I obviously stayed at home grumbling and doing the garden.

My wife still recalls how the young players, who had also travelled to watch, where given the good news on the train back to Lime Street on the way back from Wembley. "You're getting a contract"; "You're going to Oldham", "You're being released".

Genuine true story. She was actually quite upset because a lot of the young lads broke down. Ruthless. I know there has to be judgement and a cut off, but ruthless. Time and place and all that.

The one thing I'd disagree on Brian, is that I don't think you can truly judge whether a player will make it or not at 16. Not unless they're a freak of nature like Rooney. Most are still developing into their early 20s.

Tony Abrahams
28 Posted 13/10/2021 at 11:21:41
It’s an interesting subject Brian H. My own thoughts which I was talking about last night with my partner is that age 14, would be the ideal time for clubs to take over a young players life.

I’m honestly no longer a football geek, talking football with my partner, and this conversation only came about, after one of my son’s friends parents, had phoned to say her lad couldn’t come to my kids party on Friday, because he had to go to play a game of football at the academy, which took me to what Danny said, about kids being virtually imprisoned by the system.

I remember coming home for the weekend when I used to play, and was told to rest because I would probably be in the reserve team playing against Liverpool at Anfield, on the Tuesday night, which was the day after I turned 18 on the Monday. So I’m at home in our house, and on the Monday night, I’ve received around ten different phone calls, all off different people in the same crowd, “telling me” I better get fuckin out with them.

I refused every time with many telling me to just come and have an orange-juice, and the others calling me every miserable bastard under the sun, especially because I no longer saw that much of them because I was living away from home.

Bit boring I know, but I got to Anfield, was told I was sub, we got beat two-nil, I never got on, and I was the only player to get slaughtered in the changing room, because my father had asked the manager, what my chances were of getting a professional contract, and the bastard was screaming at me that he’d shown more enthusiasm in ten minutes, than I showed all fuckin week.

I couldn’t even speak, I was just shaking my head and thinking I wish you would have been in our house last night, but at least I had my childhood, and my obsession with football, had been mostly without any pressure whatsoever, which can’t be the case anymore, especially for kids who are starting in this environment so early in their very young lives.

Robert Tressell
29 Posted 13/10/2021 at 11:22:00
There is certainly scope for a club, which could be Everton, to make some significant strides in its approach to youth development (football and education).

This might mean rescuing talented kids that otherwise end up the wrong track like Kenny, Baxter and Green.

It would also help soften the incredible blow of being let go - because the kids have transferable skills and might even stay in football is some non-playing capacity.

This matters to me a lot because I do see Everton as a club still that represents a community (and potentially an extended community), rather than just an international brand that exists to sell merchandise.

It might even be the best way to restore footballing success without participating in the grubby money game we can't really compete in anyway.

Tony Abrahams
30 Posted 13/10/2021 at 11:49:53
It’s something that I totally agree with Robert, and it’s why I’ve felt that clubs should take over a young players life at 14 years of age, and they should be made to educate these young footballers, just as much as they coach them.

Help get them ready for life, especially the ones who don’t make it, but are now educated, and can hopefully become a success in another walk of life.

Football is a great life, but it can be such a brutally horrible industry, full of backstabbing and people who mostly only look out for themselves, and I’d guess it’s only got worse because of how much “of the root of all evil” is now involved in the sport.

I played for a great gang of lads, 99% of them lived their life on the other side of the law, and I used to laugh and say that at least there was honour amongst villains, and I’d just left a much harsher environment, because although they didn’t put you in jail, it didn’t mean that it never destroyed countless lives, with its brutality.

Ian Jones
31 Posted 13/10/2021 at 12:37:45
I followed the Guardian link and had a quick scan of the players at other clubs that were named, goes back to about 2014.

A few surprising names on there, some who have established careers like Rashford, Greenwood, Curtis Jones, Alexander-Arnold to name a few but most playing somewhere else than the team they were linked with for these articles
even if it's the 5th division of the Icelandic league, slight exaggeration.

Danny O’Neill
32 Posted 13/10/2021 at 12:42:47
Great discussion.

Tony, I don't believe you do the pre-match drink thing, but I'll be in The Saddle on Sunday. Let me know if you're around and I'll buy the kids a coke and slip them a fiver. I still owe you for not taking for the Norwich ticket.

Slightly earlier start with the kick off time, but theoretically I can get home earlier.

I know I'll still be dashing for the last train!!

Brian Williams
34 Posted 13/10/2021 at 13:28:08
Danny, I should be in The Saddle before Sunday's game. Martin Nicholls will be in there too with his gang!

If you're lucky, Martin will introduce you to his grandson, my mate Ted, who I sometimes stand outside with and have a laugh and receive a general football lesson from.

Danny O’Neill
35 Posted 13/10/2021 at 13:33:18
I hope Martin is there, Brian, he's sorted my ticket out!

Look forward to meeting up.

Tony Abrahams
36 Posted 13/10/2021 at 14:04:45
It's no good for me that booze Danny, I only wish I'd realized all those years ago! Thanks for the offer, but I'm not sure what time my little son is playing football yet on Sunday so get Brian W a couple of Desperadoes instead, just to keep him happy. If I don't catch up with you, then I might see you in London before one of our away games because I always have a few drinks then!
Danny O’Neill
37 Posted 13/10/2021 at 14:42:34
Don't we all, Tony?!!

The drinks will be on me. I'm immune to London prices now!!

Brian Williams
38 Posted 13/10/2021 at 14:54:01
Ah, I see, Danny. Now I know who "pointed me out" last time you were there. That's a weight off my mind.

Hey Tony, I'll be driving so Desperado's are out, mate.

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