Rafael Benítez urges Everton’s brightest young talents to commit futures to club

Sunday, 26 December, 2021 63comments  |  Jump to last

Rafael Benítez has held talks with several of Everton's brightest academy prospects to convince them to commit their long-term futures to the Goodison Park club.

Benítez has made a personal intervention to reassure Everton's young talents that a pathway to the first team remains open after Marcel Brands' departure as director of football. The academy fell under Brands's remit and, while the club conduct a review of their internal structure, the Everton manager has sought to persuade academy players to extend their Goodison careers.

The Everton manager said: “When the situation of the club changed a little bit in terms of the structure, the first thing that we did was to have two or three meetings with young players, their agents and their families to try and make sure they could stay with us for a long time. I did it personally with some of them.”

» Read the full article at The Observer


Reader Comments (63)

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Robert Tressell
1 Posted 26/12/2021 at 18:15:02
After losing Thierry Small last summer this is probably an important step. Hopefully reports of Dobbin signing are correct. The next step is to manage their route to the first team and development well.
Dennis Stevens
2 Posted 26/12/2021 at 21:22:50
Rafa not just thinking short term? That doesn't seem consistent with the expectations of many.
Fran Mitchell
3 Posted 26/12/2021 at 21:38:30
Dobbin looked a bright spark in his cameo. If we were to lose him, it'd be an awful indictment of our current situation.

I really hope he signs, and that through enforced poverty, we become a club that builds via academy players and recruitment of young players.

Looking at Digne's situation makes you wonder if only Small had stayed.

Michael Kenrick
4 Posted 26/12/2021 at 22:12:15
I guess I'm hopeful for Dobbin staying and getting a decent contract. There seem to be very few of the clickbait stories hinting he is going that we saw with Small. But this to me sounds like more fine talk from Benitez when his actions have shown pretty much the opposite.

He has been extremely reluctant to give young players reasonable exposure, restricting them instead to ridiculously short 'cameos' at the end of games, and only starting them or giving them decent playing time when his hand was forced by injuries.

Derek Thomas
5 Posted 26/12/2021 at 22:19:25
Michael @ 4:Re. Rafa? The key question seems to be : will he reluctantly realise or revert.
Mark Andersson
6 Posted 27/12/2021 at 04:24:55
Rafa is safety first he aint here for the long term.
Just has to keep us up while BMD is being built..

If the young players are good enough then he should play them.. question is are any of them up to the task

Brian Murray
7 Posted 27/12/2021 at 04:48:05
Bit ironic Benitez asking our young players to commit when he was terrified to give them a go in that 8-game losing run. It could easily have been avoided with a bit of bravery.

Not saying we have a load of Phil Fodens but I'm convinced the likes of Onyango, Simms, Dobbin and even Warrington would've given us something different to Rondon, Gomes, Delph and the rest of the usual let downs.

Alan J Thompson
8 Posted 27/12/2021 at 05:39:28
As there is no DoF to run the Academy why not make yourself indispensable and take on more duties that might even make the man responsible for running the Academy look poor. By all means ask the Manager about first team squad players to be retained or not, but who should be responsible for negotiating any contracts or overseeing the financial checks and balances?

I could be wrong and certainly no one man is responsible, but there does seem to have been many changes recently, is that 4 or 5 Directors resigned (and replaced?) including DoF. Any day now the sheets might be out proclaiming - "Rafa for CEO"- while Bill and Mosh are left for the fans.

And the thick plottens.

Danny O’Neill
9 Posted 27/12/2021 at 07:43:52
I suppose he has no option now there is no DoF and he has the control he has tended to enjoy. He has to take matters into his own hands.

A good time for conspiracy theorising, but is Unsworth next in his sights; the next moving target? I hope that Tea Lady has completed and passed her Espresso making course with flying colours.

The other angle to this is what Michael alludes to, in that he has no option because his hand has been forced due to injuries and transfer budget limitations?

Tony Twist
10 Posted 27/12/2021 at 07:47:56
It's nice to share this information but he really needs to focus on the performance of the first-team squad only. Chelsea was a pleasant surprise but let's not forget we are in trouble here and in relegation form and Rafa has had a fair bit to do with that.

Next match, rip Newcastle a new one, give us a crushing victory against one of our rivals and then go on a 10-match unbeaten run and then talk about the niceties of the youth coming through.

Let’s do our talking on the pitch during these dreadful times. Let's face it, he plays the crowd, there is no doubt.

Andrew Brookfield
11 Posted 27/12/2021 at 08:33:01
Retaining our best young talent and signing quality up-and-coming players like Patterson and the kid from Forest is exactly what Everton should have been doing for the last 5 years.

Well done to Benitez, this feels much more sustainable than just signing cast-offs from Barcelona and Real Madrid and more akin to what I was expecting out of the previous DoF.

Shaun Laycock
12 Posted 27/12/2021 at 09:08:19
The proof of the pudding is in the eating...let's see some of the young players give it a go. Sprinkle a little bit of experience in there and let them go. Sure, they will make mistakes, but that's how you learn.

It could also save us a packet too.

Barry Rathbone
13 Posted 27/12/2021 at 09:24:39
The reason managers are loathe to chuck in youngsters in any meaningful way ie 3 or 4 in for a prolonged run is there is no way back. Established old hands never forgive and when recalled to the first team because of injuries etc play half arsed. I always suspect the start of the Roberto decline was having to bring a miffed Baines back for Oviedo

Interestingly SAF didn't "blood" his successful Giggs/Beckham team over seasons it was a coup d'etat loosing the entire group at the start of the "you win nothing with youngsters" season. It is a do or die decision because of the background poison that can be unleashed among the squad.

I reckon Benitez is savvy enough to realise a massive cull is necessary (most likely this summer) and is lining up his domestic ducks first.

Ian Bennett
14 Posted 27/12/2021 at 09:33:49
A big cull is coming.

Digne out
Decision on Mina
Frees for Sigurdsson, Delph, Kenny, Tosun.
Offers considered for Holgate, Gomes, Davies, Gbamin.
Big guns in for Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.

Clive Rogers
15 Posted 27/12/2021 at 10:15:59
We seem to have been having a massive clear out every season for the last 25 years.
Dave Abrahams
16 Posted 27/12/2021 at 10:42:17
Michael (4),

You watch many of the U23s and U18s games, now being honest, how many of those young players would you throw into the first team, especially during the poor run we were in, and in some very important positions like striker and central midfield.

I know I wouldn't, although coming off the bench Branthwaite, Dobbin and Gordon would definitely have been in the squad, Branthwaite has been injured for a good part of the season along with Simms – that's why they haven't been in contention. Dobbin is being introduced in short spells, Gordon has been given many chances and has now shown a big improvement and is now a recognised member of the squad.

Is there anyone else you would choose to play a part in the coming games, Michael? A few people have mentioned Onyango to be selected, I wonder how many have seen him play for the U18s and U23s, he doesn't stand out, for me, in those teams never mind the first eleven. Hopefully he will in the future along with some of the youngsters who are starting to come through now, but just yet they are not ready in my opinion, but maybe some of the fans who watch the young lads can put me wise.

Danny O’Neill
17 Posted 27/12/2021 at 10:52:44
Same question from me Dave to Michael and those who see more of the U18s & U23s.

I've not seen much of Onyango, but he's getting a lot of mentions.

The one who caught my eye a few times when I have managed to watch is Lewis Warrington so would be keen to know what those who've seen more of him think. Great range of passing from what I've seen.

Brian Harrison
18 Posted 27/12/2021 at 11:01:10
Seeing we had our Boxing Day game postponed because of Covid and injuries, meaning we had less than 14 players who could have played, and because those with Covid have to isolate for 7 days, then they can't play against Newcastle on 30 December. So I wonder if our game against Newcastle will be called off, and when will that decision be made?

Also, we might find ourselves following Scotland, Wales and Ireland and find that sporting events may well be played behind closed doors, should the new figures on the spread of the virus suggest tighter restrictions.

Kevin Prytherch
19 Posted 27/12/2021 at 11:02:50
18 months ago David Unsworth was given a job to oversee the entire academy structure rather than just working with the players that were given to him at U23 level.

Now we have 4 young players who are being talked about as being ready for first team action after having precious little for a few years.

Is this a coincidence or is Unsworth actually doing the job he was employed to do 18 months ago?

Tony Everan
20 Posted 27/12/2021 at 11:26:00
Dave, Danny. Along with the players you have mentioned I will really look forward next year to watching the 18 year olds Charlie Whitaker and Stanley Mills. Individually and also how they are combining with each other. There is an understanding between these two that is looking very promising. It will be exciting to see if it continues and develops. Another young player I’ve seen less of is Sean McAllister from NI, he may have had an injury of some sort up until recently. I’ll be following him too.

It would be good to hear from Brent and Phill who attend, and other posters who watch the u23 games, on who they will be watching closely next year.

Robert Tressell
21 Posted 27/12/2021 at 11:53:46
From what I've seen Onyango has the advantage of physique over Warrington - but the latter is probably a better footballer. I would hope both make the first team along with Price and Whitaker. Personally I think they are all hindered by lack of style in our forward play. U23s is about counter attacks, forcing mistakes and set pieces. We need to be teaching them more cultured forward play to bring them on.
Michael Kenrick
22 Posted 27/12/2021 at 12:07:05
It's all subjective when presented like that, Dave, and of little interest to me. I'd rather look at the facts of their seasons so far, and let's just keep this to the Premier League:

Simms: Injured 8; On the Bench 5; On as Sub 0; Started 1. Total played: 62 minutes (v Chelsea).

He's been fit for a couple of months now but only one game, when forced, instead of being given a chance once the Rondon experiment had so miserably failed...

Dobbin: Injured 0; On the Bench 7; On as Sub 3; Started 0. Total played: 30 minutes (28 v Chelsea).

Just can't for the life of me understand why he was not given proper playing chances in any of those 6 previous games as a sub off the bench, where he had to sit and watch the donkey that is Rondon when he could have been having a go.

Kenny: Injured 0; On the Bench 16; On as Sub 1; Started 1. Total played: 100 minutes (90 v Chelsea)

Obviously way down the pecking order for Benitez... but that means he prefers playing Coleman, who is verging on absolutely shocking this season. I thought Jonjoe (note the spelling of his name, Dave!) acquitted well enough against Chelsea – his only real chance so far this season. Why? Why has he not been used a hell of a lot more instead of sitting on his arse on the bench, watching the beloved Coleman making an arse of himself?

Onyango: Injured 7; On the Bench 3; On as Sub 2; Started 0. Total played: 2 minutes.

I just don't see what good these maddeningly short and pointless cameos do for a young player like this. If he's on the bench, at least give him a decent run-out now and again.

Branthwaite: Injured 0; On the Bench 12; On as Sub 0; Started 1. Total played: 90 minutes (v Chelsea)

Purely on his Chelsea performance alone, Jarrad has to be the hardest done by when it comes to Benitez's conservative intransigence. He was mostly accompilshed and composed against Chelsea, and did something we are separate for – he scored! Yet 12 games sat on the bench… a shameful waste of talent and spurned opportunity for gaining more experience.

Gordon: Injured 0; On the Bench 9; On as Sub 7; Started 7. Total played: 698 minutes.

The only young player we have who has been given any sort of a chance to prove himself. Sadly for me, either his skillset is lacking, or he's been told to play conservatively rather than just go for it. Shameful by Benitez if the latter is the case.

You said it yourself, Dave: "Gordon has been given many chances and has now shown a big improvement and is now a recognised member of the squad." – Duh!!

On the subjective side, I really like the look of Whitaker for creativity and goals. But he's only just showing for the U23s. It will be years at this rate before he is even considered for training with the first team.

Dave Abrahams
23 Posted 27/12/2021 at 12:10:22
Robert (21),

Yes, I agree with most of that post. The U23s are not good to watch for me and the forward play needs plenty of improvement with the striker isolated for minutes on end and then waiting for assistance when he finally gets the ball. I wonder what Unsworth has been doing about that for the last 18 months.

Warrington, Price and Charlie Whitaker are all good on the ball and the more they play, together with Mills, the better they should become. Along with two or three other players who are even younger and looking good as well as the striker from Sunderland and his co-striker Sherif, maybe they need a better coach to educate them.

Shaun Laycock
24 Posted 27/12/2021 at 12:25:31
It's all relative, but one of the youngsters who has the most game time has made the most progress.

I agree with Michael that any one or a combo of young forwards could do a better job than Rondon. What a sad indictment that we give him more game time than trying to give young players time in a 'real' game...

Dave Abrahams
25 Posted 27/12/2021 at 12:26:01
Michael (22),

With you all the way on Jonjoe Kenny. You saw Simms at Chelsea, he wasn't match fit and just ambled through the game. If that had been Rondon, he would have been slaughtered for that performance, that's why I held on about giving an opinion based on the Chelsea game.

Branthwaite had a stormer of a game, I think he will get more game time from now on, Dobbin could have been used more often much like he was in the Chelsea match and using players for 5 minutes or so seems to me to be of no useful benefit, although I shit myself when Onyango came on for the last 7 minutes including added on time because I expected the worst, to be honest.

On Rondon, I think he let Benitez and himself down because he should have started training and got himself fitter as soon as he signed the contract with Everton, it was patently obvious he was nowhere fit but, with Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison unfit or suspended, he had to play him.

When the season gets going again, I expect Rondon to be an asset to the team, as he showed in his last two much-improved performances.

Tom Bowers
26 Posted 27/12/2021 at 12:34:12
These days it's hard to get any young potentials to sign long term contracts as many clubs spend too much money on imports and many of these youngsters don't have the patience to hang around too long.

Who can blame them. A soccer career can be very short. There is big money to be made out there and if you have the talent why not go after it instead of warming a bench.

Andrew Keatley
27 Posted 27/12/2021 at 12:39:39
It seems to me that the step up from the Under 18s to the Under 23s is now relatively negligible, while the step from either to the first team is huge.

If our first team were firing on all cylinders, then graduating a few into the group and giving them minutes – whether we were facing an injury or Covid crisis for numbers or not – would be much more appealing. But the decision to give starts to young players – none of whom have truly excelled in junior football, when our first team has been struggling – risks a great deal.

On top of the potential discontent of the senior playing squad, there is the possibility of it backfiring horribly both on the pitch and in respect of the development of these young players. A big part of sports management is timing; horse racing trainers need to know the desired arc they are working towards in terms of the long-term aim for a racehorse. I understand the desire to shake up an underperforming first team, and to be bold and blood the youngsters, but there will be long-term planning in place for all of the best young players we have, and Benitez is urging them to sign contracts precisely because of this.

Dave Abrahams
28 Posted 27/12/2021 at 12:40:54
Shaun (24),

Yes, Gordon has done well the more he has played. Benitez told him and the press in his after-match comments that Gordon couldn't last more than 60 minutes, which was true. He's getting better at it now, if you read the threads and posts in his earlier games you would have noticed the amount of stick he was getting from fans who wanted more from the lad who was just starting his career.

The other lads would have got the same treatment if they hadn't performed the way some fans expect them to. Listen to what the young lads are saying about the way Benitez talks to and encourages them. I think he knows how to get the best out the players, in his own time. I hope he gets plenty of it.

Andrew Keatley
29 Posted 27/12/2021 at 12:49:07
Tony (10) - But that’s precisely what Benitez is doing - he’s trying to get our best young players to commit to the club so that they can eventually become part of our first team squad.
Tony Abrahams
30 Posted 27/12/2021 at 13:02:11
I thought it was why Gordon was so well received after his Chelsea performance, because he showed a part of his game, that had never really been noticeable before?

He won headers, he done the dirty work, he drove forward, and he looked to be taking a lot more responsibility.

He played like he belonged, and this for many is the biggest step, especially for the ones who have natural ability, and just need a bit more confidence to produce?

Kenny has been criminally underused, and so has Branthwaite, because both are defenders, and Everton have been very poor defensively all season, imo.

It will therefore be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks, especially if they make any stupid mistakes that lead to a goal, because this is something our experienced defenders have all been guilty of doing this season. (Although they've got to get in the team on a regular basis first!!!)

Darren Hind
31 Posted 27/12/2021 at 13:06:33
I have no doubt whatsoever that Rafa`s hand was forced.

Not only by injuries but by the gradual realization that the performances of Iwobi, Rondon, Seamus and Allan were showing no visible signs of improving. The only surprise for me was that Iwobi wasn't axed as well.

Question is; Are these players Out Out, or were they just getting a boot up the arse to focus their minds?

I expect Allan to come snarling back, but I fear Seamus may be coming to the end of the road. Rondon didn't really come to the beginning of his…

Shaun Laycock
32 Posted 27/12/2021 at 13:22:08
I still think there's a player in there with Jonjoe Kenny. I think wingback would suit with the insurance of cover behind. He won't be a world-beater, but is surely an option now Seamus's star is waning.
Mark Taylor
33 Posted 27/12/2021 at 13:27:12
If you were Dobbin, what you are seeing in front of you are no fewer than four players ahead of you for the striker positio: Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, Rondon and Simms.

Unless Rafa is telling him at least one, maybe two of those won't be around next year, I can see why he might be looking elsewhere, especially abroad where you can make a name for yourself in perhaps easier conditions. Especially given the fact we don't exactly have a great recent track record in playing youngsters. Maybe we should think about doing that, sell abroad with a buyback option...

Andrew Keatley
34 Posted 27/12/2021 at 13:30:28
Darren (31) - I think you are giving Benitez too much credit.

The squad was showing its bare bones against Chelsea, and that's why Simms got a start – there was no alternative. If Rondon had been fit, then he would have started. Coleman and Allan were carrying knocks, but if either had been fully fit, then I suspect that both would have started.

Benitez would have persevered with those players, and bringing in Kenny and Gomes is just selecting two other senior players as opposed to suddenly embracing our academy prospects.

His fallout with Digne meant that Branthwaite got a start – which tells us that Benitez is probably more stubborn about losing face than he is about playing young players.

I also agree with you that Rondon, Iwobi and Coleman have underperformed – I think most Everton fans would agree – but I do not think Allan deserves to be in that grouping. I know that you do not rate him but his performances this season have been far from poor.

Barry Hesketh
35 Posted 27/12/2021 at 14:03:59
What Benitez and the club have to be careful about is the trap that Aston Villa fell into a few years ago. They had to reduce costs, or at least the owner claimed they did; they let experienced, costly players leave and blooded lots of youngsters. Unfortunately for the Villains, it didn't work out very well for them.

I'm all for youngsters being bought into the team/squad but they have to be good enough replacements for the more experienced players, as if they're not, they won't handle the pressure very well and it could prove detrimental to their careers and the club itself.

It's always a difficult balancing act and if you are Chelsea or Man City et al it is much easier because the youngsters aren't expected to retain their places for long periods, unless of course, they are exceptionally talented, such as Foden and Mount et al.

Do we have youngsters of that quality? Obviously, we don't; have we got youngsters who can do a decent job for the team when called upon? In the case of a few, they have shown that they can, but we really don't know if the newer faces are capable or not and that's why it's such a huge gamble to overly rely on the youngsters. However, many of the big signings of the last five or so years have been a big and expensive letdown.

As always, the squad needs a healthy balance of experienced reliable players and young eager starlets who can be improved and show their skills off in the heat of battle.

It is a brave manager who will choose to bring in youngsters into the first-team fold on a regular basis, not many modern managers can afford to be that brave as every game has become a must-win game no matter where in the table a club is situated.

Danny O’Neill
36 Posted 27/12/2021 at 14:11:45
I agree with the comments on the wish for the young players to be coached to be comfortable and confident with a football at their feet. The clue is in the name of the game after all.

I also agree with not understanding the point in bringing a player on (young or experienced) for 1 minute 47 seconds or whatever other meaningless period of time. I've never understood that. Break up play, kill momentum waste time? Don't the officials just add the time on? Especially now. I just don't get the point.

I agree on Rondon. He's was as mobile as the lamp post outside my house early in the season, but he did look better in his last couple of games. I agree, both he and the manager probably didn't expect the emergency glass to be broken so soon.

I'm agreeing a lot! I too agree that Allan doesn't deserve to be in that grouping. I wish we'd had him a few years earlier, but he still is and still can be an asset, leader and mentor on the pitch. We just need to use him accordingly for the season or two we'll get out of him.

One player not getting much of a mention is Davies. I know he's joined our list on the cast of casualty, but I fear he's dropped from favour too? Being a Davies convert (good squad player), I hope that assumption is wrong.

I've said enough about Iwobi. I both agree and disagree with many on here about that enigma of a footballer. I do see a player in there somewhere. But then he goes and confuses me as much as he seems to confuse himself. To the point about coaching youngsters; the more I see him, the more I don't think he was coached properly at a young age and now he's possibly beyond learning? A question more than anything.

I gave Gordon man-of-the-match last Thursday and deservedly so. Keep improving lad as you're getting better each time I watch you. But I'll leave the last word (for now, because you know me!!) for Jonjoe Kenny.

I've watched him for Everton and you know who (Michael!!). I've been doubtful of him having the ability to be where I want us to be, but how many recent Everton players can we say that about? But I've always wanted him to succeed and ideally to do so in a blue shirt. He showed enough for me against Chelsea that he should be given the opportunity to do so. Certainly for the remainder of this season. The wing back call is a good shout by the way.

Of all the players on that pitch, I was most pleased for him. It didn't go unnoticed by me that he was the first Everton player over to the fans and he went straight to them, giving his shirt to some lucky kid. Or the 50 year old bloke who probably tried to nick it off him / her!!! Not that that is what happened, but seen it before!!!

He didn't wait to be told by the captain or the manager. He didn't follow the group of players; initially on his own, they followed him to receive the appreciation of the fans. I actually looked on with pride as you could see and feel what that meant to him.

Danny O’Neill
37 Posted 27/12/2021 at 14:17:55
I'll agree with that too, Barry. Mostly, good and successful teams are a blend of experienced signings and emerging young players.
Dave Abrahams
38 Posted 27/12/2021 at 14:18:27
Michael (22),

Yes, I have just noticed it should be Jonjoe and not Jonjo, I always thought everyone else was spelling his name wrong!!

Gary Willock
39 Posted 27/12/2021 at 15:22:11
I find the “but Villa went down with kids” argument a bit odd tbh. Over the last 10 years, 30 clubs have gone down. You could also make an easy argument that 29 of them have gone down because they didn't invest in kids. There are other counter-examples too, of course: Alex Ferguson notably once got told he'd “win nothing with kids”.

Neither argument is correct, of course, there's simply too many other variables to say otherwise… Picking one over the other is just cherry-picking to suit a personal view.

For me personally, the kids are the only way we can get a sustainable football club that could compete over the next 5-10 years. Moshiri is never going to, and probably cannot legally, put another £500M in for a 2nd spin of the wheel. So, the choice is mid- to low-table mediocrity with journeymen but “experienced' pros” or spin the wheel and attract the best kids with them knowing they'll get a chance here.

Personally I'd like the latter… not sure Rafa will do it, the article here sounds more like desperation to come across like he wants to. He knows this is a big part of the counter against him. The proof will come on whether Dobbin and Simms stay in ahead of Rondon over next couple of weeks.

Barry Hesketh
40 Posted 27/12/2021 at 15:54:57
Gary @ 39,

I understand your perspective, however, the reason I cited the Villa case is that that club at that time was in a very similar situation to which Everton finds itself today. The 'choice' was a Hobson's Choice, and not as it turned out a very good one.

If Everton is to follow a similar path, I hope they look in greater detail at the ramifications of cutting the wage bill and do not make the same errors that Villa did.

Michael Kenrick
41 Posted 27/12/2021 at 15:59:28
Sorry to call you on that one, Dave (#38). But Danny's been getting good marks recently and I need to keep my eye in!
Robert Tressell
42 Posted 27/12/2021 at 16:07:44
Barry, that's a sensible point. I am a big advocate of youth development – the key being development over a period. Villa handled things badly, blooding too many inexperienced players all at once. The focus for us should be Branthwaite and Gordon, with minutes for Dobbin and Onyango - with Simms on loan.

That could give us 5 decent first-teamers (or first-team squad) for the next 10 years if handled right. But they need the support of a stable side around them in order to grow.

Dave Abrahams
43 Posted 27/12/2021 at 16:17:11
Michael (41), Fair enough… as long as I don't get the cane as well!!
Andrew Keatley
44 Posted 27/12/2021 at 18:00:49
Robert (42) and others - This narrative about Villa being relegated because of their youngsters is news to me. Maybe I missed something but I was under the impression that Villa sold Benteke and Delph, and then reinvested in their squad with a decent spread of youngsters (Adama Traore, Jordan Amavi, Jordan Veretout, Jordan Ayew), mid-career potential (Rude Gestede, Scott Sinclair, Idrissa Gueye), and a few established pros on the decline (Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott).

What happened was that Tim Sherwood was a disaster, Remi Garde an even bigger disaster, and they were relegated by mid-April after only managing 3 wins all season. They were not relegated because of their young players, and certainly not because they promoted academy players into the first team. That’s just not the case at all as far as I can see. Have I missed something?

Ashley Roberts
45 Posted 27/12/2021 at 18:47:50
It seems to me that youngsters are given more of a chance abroad than they are in England. The reason being that I don't believe there are the financial pressures for instant success as we have here in the Premier League.

Just look at the lad we are wanting to buy from Ukraine. He is only 22 and a regular international player. What chances do our youngsters get?

Let's be honest, Benitez has confirmed he would sooner play experience over youth, hence Rondon getting the nods over Simms or Dobbin, which I for the life of me cannot fathom.

Branthwaite also has to be given a chance in a back 3, along with Mina and Godfrey, similar to the way Spurs and Chelsea set up.

I agree we cannot flood the team with youngsters but the best teams are a blend of youth and experience. C'mon, Benitez, let's see you adopt what you preach. Dobbin won't stay unless you give him a chance.

Mike Gaynes
46 Posted 27/12/2021 at 19:23:55
Dave #25,

Re Rondon, actually he was never that good... even in his peak days with West Brom and Newcastle, he averaged about a goal every four games. But you're right, when you're 32 and that heavy, staying fit requires tremendous commitment.

Even in Moscow, where by many accounts he played very well, he was only lasting 70 minutes a game. Comparing Rondon to similarly bulky, similarly aged strikers like Antonio and Deeney, you can see the difference that commitment makes.

IMO Rondon has been letting himself down for years in that area. But as Danny says, Rafa clearly never expected to need so much time from him. Losing Calvert-Lewin for more than 3 months was never really contemplated.

Darren Hind
47 Posted 27/12/2021 at 19:30:44
Sorry

I just cant take the defence or Allan seriously.

If he does'nt belong in that bracket it's because he hasnt earned his spot there. He has cost us more goals the rest of the put together

I get that the Brazilian Peter Reid" was a Carlo "pulling power" signing, but how many goals does this guy have to give up ?
Take a couple of seconds to look at the howlers he has committed in the last few games on you tube. Look at how poor he is ? For me the final nail was watching him quit against Arsenal.

People can claim he was carrying a knock, but the guy himself declared himself fit to play against Chelsea. Make no mistake he was benched and he was benched because he has become a serial offender. Goals we were conceding were directly attributable to his poor play.

As for developing players who are comfortable o the ball, we cant even sign them. 500m after scanning the world and the only players I can think of who were comfortable on the ball were James and Gray. One of them has gone.

Tree. Barking. Wrong

Andrew Keatley
48 Posted 27/12/2021 at 21:29:49
Darren (47) - Why do you think Allan was fit enough to start the game against Chelsea? The fact that Benitez chose Gbamin to play the last 20 minutes of the game tells me that Allan was far from fit - and that even if Benitez had made some reassuring noises about Allan’s fitness in the pre-game press conference, the decision was made to guard against Allan aggravating his injury.

As for these “howlers” that Allan has made, could you kindly point me towards them, as I’m struggling to find them.

Mike Gaynes
49 Posted 27/12/2021 at 21:45:09
Andrew, any mistake made by a player Darren doesn't fancy is a "howler"... just as any made by a player he likes (e.g. Mason the Mental Munchkin) is somebody else's fault.

That said, take a look at the Watford horror show, and you'll see Allan and Davies having a partnered catastrophe throughout. Then check out the blunder against City (I think it was Rodri's goal). That was all Allan.

How much of Allan's diminished performance is due to injuries and/or exhaustion is a matter of worthy speculation -- he hasn't benefitted from a single squad rotation this season -- but there's no question his level has dropped this season from last.

Andrew Keatley
50 Posted 27/12/2021 at 22:35:59
Mike - Yes, I daresay you’re on the money with that assessment. Double standards make meaningful dialogue very difficult… but I’ll have a go anyway.

The Rodri goal does definitely result from a misplaced pass by Allan, but calling it a howler is very harsh. Salah’s second goal in the recent derby defeat was the result of a “howler” by Coleman.

The vast majority of goals are the result of attackers getting the better of defenders, as per Jota turning Allan a bit too easily for the last goal in the same game. But “howler” - no way.

As for the Watford goals, I don’t see any significant mistake by Allan in any of them. He, Digne and Godfrey all got in one another’s way for the Watford 4th, but Godfrey was the one who took control and ultimately made the mistake.

If we were to have our full squad fit and available for the game on Thursday then I’d be amazed if Allan was not a starter. And if Allan is fully fit, regardless of whoever else is fit and available, he’ll be starting on Thursday.


Danny O’Neill
51 Posted 27/12/2021 at 23:03:15
Or his two decisive and pinpoint forward passes that led to the 2 goals against Brighton away?

Players do good things, players make mistakes. Especially in struggling teams.

Allan will add qualities to this team. That's an opinion. We all have opinions on players.

Mike Gaynes
52 Posted 27/12/2021 at 00:05:14
Andrew #50, I don't disagree. I wasn't calling out Allan for any of the Watford goals specifically, just pointing out that he and Davies were pretty awful throughout.

He's still in my first choice 11, however, and while none of us is thrilled with the current schedule situation, I think his having three weeks off will benefit him hugely. Rest is critical when you're 31 and carrying a knock or two, and he hadn't had any rest since summer.

Danny #51, agreed, but that was in back in August. Seems a lifetime ago, doesn't it?

I do expect him to snap back to form.


Darren Hind
53 Posted 28/12/2021 at 08:41:55
Mike,

Trying to clear the ball with the wrong foot straight into the path of Rodri, who gave it the treatment it deserved... wasn't a howler?

And Allowing Jota to turn with total ease without any physical pressure wasn't a howler?

And by jogging on the spot and basically quitting while an Arsenal player ran away from him to score wasn't a howler?

Maybe others see it differently but, for me, any error which results directly in the ball ending up in the back of our net is a total howler... And there's an awful lot more on Allan's CV than the ones he has made in recent games.

I don't dislike Allan, although I find the unwarranted praise (and defence) heaped upon him at the expense of other players really grates. How many times will those two passes against Brighton be raised in celebration? He's been here 18 months. Contrast how many goals he has given up to the 2-3 he has created?

Allan does have qualities. He is very combative. That's why I said I think he will come snarling back, but he doesn't have the wherewithal to play consistently in the Premier League. Too many of his stars need to be aligned.

He can't cover the ground. He often takes chances to preserve his energy (see the Arsenal goal) and he is one of the most naive veterans I have ever seen. Not a match goes by without him selling himself completely by diving in – please don't ask me to list them.

I do resent that Allan is often defended for errors that would have seen other players hung drawn and quartered, or worse still swept under the carpet... But I don't dislike him. That much will be evident if he smashes one in the top corner in the next couple of weeks.

Kevin Prytherch
54 Posted 28/12/2021 at 09:03:23
Allan is like most of our midfielders, he has too many limitations to play as part of a midfield 2. He is best when there is someone behind him to mop up. When he plays as the defensive shield he makes too many mistakes, frequently gets pulled out of position and makes silly lunges that expose the defence. When he plays further forward with that safety net if someone behind him in midfield, he’s good at pressurising the opposition.

I’ve said it since he was injured last year, that Davies plays the role that Allan often plays far better than Allan does. Played as a defensive shield, he is a liability.

Danny O’Neill
55 Posted 28/12/2021 at 09:24:28
Fair counter points on Allan from Darren & Kevin.

The naivety possibly comes from him not adjusting his game as the years have caught up on him? We've all been there; to use and adapt a line from a famous Spinners song, the spirit might be willing but the flesh could be weak.

I do agree though, he (and Doucoure as well) would benefit from, and, our midfield be far more effective with a sweeper type player behind them. Mind the gap as I've been saying for ages now.

I don't expect him to be smashing anything into the top corner any time soon as that is definitely not something I've seen in his locker. But if he does???

No, that's reserved rights for Tony Hibbert!!

Dave Abrahams
56 Posted 28/12/2021 at 09:37:21
Mike (46), yes Rondon has been disappointing, very disappointing most fans would say, and it has been due to lack of fitness which he must put his hands up to. However in his last two games he has looked a lot fitter and maybe he has got his weight down too.

He was bought to take the weight off Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, giving them vital rests, with Rondon coming on as a sub. I know he hasn't scored many goals but he can hold the ball up and put himself about keeping the opposing centre backs on their toes and making space for other players to occupy and score the goals.

He will be an asset in the coming months for these reasons as long as he stays fit and he owes this to Benitez, Everton FC and the fans.

Robert Tressell
57 Posted 28/12/2021 at 09:46:39
Allan is a decent enough player. Like many on our books, he's not top class but looks even worse when played out of position or alongside players who don't compensate for his weaknesses.

I'm hoping he is replaced in the First XI this coming summer by a holding midfielder (which he is not) with a good range of passing.

I also hope we move away from 2 in midfield because we are so regularly outnumbered there and it puts the defence under constant pressure and leaves our attackers starved of the ball or tracking back.

Anthony Jones
58 Posted 30/12/2021 at 11:16:08
Interesting article on Benitez in the Echo.

Pennant slaughtered him. Sounds very much like the criticism of Moyes that has come out over the years. Micromanagement, doesn't explain why players are dropped, too many instructions etc.

Hopefully, his pros outweigh his cons whilst we are stabilising.

Tony Abrahams
59 Posted 30/12/2021 at 15:50:07
Anthony, I personally think that there is a war going on behind the scenes, and the reason I think this, is because certain papers do seem to be a lot more pro-Benitez, whilst some of the others seem to be the complete opposite.

Maybe things will settle down once we know the outcome of the internal review, but it does seem strange that the Echo are suddenly running a few stories, from ex-Liverpool players that are putting Benitez in a bad light, especially because it's nothing but a Liverpudlian newspaper!

Brian Wilkinson
60 Posted 31/12/2021 at 01:45:41
It’s a start and nice to see he is trying to get the youngsters to stay.

A step up from when Ronnie K would not even allow the under 23 players to have a meal at the training camp, until he had finished his and left, still at least they had a locker.

Barry Hesketh
61 Posted 31/12/2021 at 10:53:12
The Athletic reports today (31st December) that

Everton have resumed talks with Lewis Dobbin over a new contract — but both sides remain some way from an agreement, The Athletic understands.

Rafa Benitez is leading negotiations after the departure of former director of football Marcel Brands.

The Everton manager's intervention saw talks resume for the first time since an initial offer was made earlier this season. However significant progress is yet to be made.

Dobbin, whose contract expires at the end of the season, can sign a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs from January 1. There has already been substantial interest from Germany in his services.

Ralph Basnett
62 Posted 02/01/2022 at 16:55:46
Why as a young talent would you want to sign for us when you can't get on the bench and, if you do, Rondon is used ahead of you?

Not only is FSW ruining our present – he is ruining our future. I was all for giving him a chance but, after today, he has to go before it is too late. His management is archaic and dangerous and will get us relegated!

Alan J Thompson
63 Posted 06/01/2022 at 10:24:12
Is there any update on how El Supremo is going with this, you know, names on the dotted line?

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