This week, I attended Colchester vs Brentford which had a particular interest for me because of The Bees young left back, Jake Bidwell.
Jake Bidwell was born in Southport in 1993. The left sided defender join Everton aged 11 and has steadily progressed through the youth ranks.
In 2009 aged 16 Bidwell signed scholarship forms at Everton and had already played for both the U18 side and the reserves.
Later that year David Moyes handed Bidwell his Everton first team debut by starting him in the Europa League clash against BATE Borisov.
The BATE game was notable for many Everton youngsters making an appearance (Duffy, Mustafi, Craig, Forshaw, Akpan, Agard, Baxter, Rodwell) but Bidwell was the youngest. And aged just 16 years and 271 days Bidwell became the youngest player ever to represent Everton in Europe.
Everton eventually lost to BATE 0-1 but the result was unimportant compared to the glimpse of the future the fans enjoyed. Rodwell looked good for 8 minutes before leaving the pitch injured (sadly a common theme to his career). Duffy looked decent next to Tony Hibbert in the centre of defence while the rest of them were pretty forgettable except for Jake Bidwell. He may have been the youngest player on the pitch but he played a full 90 minutes and look very at home.
So far that has been the only first team action Jake Bidwell has experienced at Everton. The main problem for Bidwell is Leighton Baines. Baines is an England international player, arguably the best left back in the country and pretty much an ever-present in the team. In fact I cannot remember a single game Baines has missed over the last couple of years.
Bidwell though has continued to develop behind the scenes. He has represented England at U16, U17, U18 and most recently U19 level. And last year Bidwell Captained the Everton U18 side to national title success. He was also named Academy Player of the year for 2011.
In November David Moyes decided the time had come to advance the development of Bidwell and sent the now 18-year-old player out on loan to Division 1 outfit Brentford.
On the 6th December Bidwell made his debut for Uwe Rosler's team in a 0-0 draw with Barnet. Bidwell played a full 90 minutes and received the Man-Of-The-Match award at the end of the game.
4 days later Bidwell played his second game for Brentford, a home win against Hartlepool. Once again Bidwell played a full 90 minutes and once again at the end of the match Bidwell received the Man-Of-The-Match award.
Bidwell continued to play well for Brentford over the Christmas period and in early January a very impressed Uwe Rosler contacted David Moyes and agreed to extend Bidwell's loan deal until February 14th.
Speaking of his loan extension Bidwell said "It?s been great here. I have had the odd game in front of big crowds but playing week in, week out in front of fans is what it?s all about."
Before last night Bidwell had played 8 times for Brentford and only lost once. Each appearance has been for the full 90 minutes. And in the 5-2 victory over Wycombe Bidwell assisted two of the goals. Both manager Rosler and the Bees fans seem to like the player and last week Bidwell got a call to join another Everton Loan player Luke Garbutt in the England U19 squad.
Which brings me to last night's game. The starting line ups were announced before the game and maybe it was my imagination but Number 24 Jake Bidwell seemed to get a louder cheer from the Brentford fans. Could this be because his loan spell was due to end yesterday and he was making his final appearance for Brentford? Or did this extra loud cheer occur just because he's a fans favourite?
Anyway the game began and I kept a watchful eye on Brentford's young left back. My first impression was how involved in the game he was mentally. Bidwell watches every pass and continually shouts instructions to his fellow teammates. He may be only 18 but the lad has a leadership quality on the pitch and it?s clear to see why he was Captain of that U18 side which won the title.
To be fair the first half was pretty uneventful. Colchester started the game without a recognised striker and so the Brentford defence and Bidwell remained largely comfortable. A couple of times Bidwell tried to get forward but nothing of any real note. He did look very tidy on the ball giving nothing away.
The second half started much the same way until the 55th minute when Bidwell in an advanced position received the ball outside the penalty area. At first I thought he would look to cross but instead the youngster surprised myself and Colchester midfielder Karl Duguid with a burst of pace.
Poor old Karl Duguid was making his 400th appearance for Colchester but Bidwell showed no respect and easily glided past him into the penalty area. Bidwell found himself with a clear sight of goal and Duguid hit the panic button with a sliding tackle that had no chance of winning the ball. Bidwell was fouled inside the area in a clear cut penalty. Duiguid got a yellow card. Brentford missed the penalty but scored from the resulting rebound.
Colchester manager John Ward then made 3 very attacking substitutions and Brentford's untroubled defence were suddenly faced with strikers with fresh legs.
The last 20 minutes of the game was all Colchester attacking. Bidwell did very well and Colchester had very little joy down his left side. 19-year-old winger Gavin Massey has plenty of pace and trickery but at no time did he find a way past Bidwell.
In the last 10 minutes Colchester did find a way to breach Brentford's defence and striker Steven Gillespie (a former Liverpool youth player) scored 2 goals to give Colchester a 2-1 victory. Neither of the goals were directly the fault of Bidwell and at the final whistle the young man look a bit annoyed that his team had thrown away the 0-1 lead.
Overall I felt Bidwell looked pretty useful. He was very vocal, very focused and very tidy on the ball. He looked to get forward and attack at times but also clearly understood his defensive duties.
Bidwell is quicker than I thought. His speed was crucial when winning the penalty and for every Brentford corner it was Bidwell who remained the last man at the back. Clearly Rosler feels Bidwell has the pace to stop an opposing team?s break after a corner.
Bidwell looked one of the better Brentford players and I would give his performance a 7/10 maybe 8/10 for winning the penalty.
So what does the future hold for Bidwell. Does he have an Everton future? Well the immediately answer is no. Leighton Baines is Everton's best player. Leighton Baines is only 27 and he does not strike me as the kind of player who will ever demand a move away from Everton.
So you could reasonably expect Baines to remain Everton's first choice left back for at least the next 5 or even 6 years. And given Baines excellent injury record you do not expect many first team chances to come the way of young Bidwell.
How long does Bidwell wait for his chance? Will his development suffer waiting for a Baines injury to give him his chance? Is there a chance Moyes might recognise Bidwell?s potential and decide to cash in on Baines?
As with all young players the future is unknown. I always expected big futures for John Paul Kissock and Peter Clark. And I never expected Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert to play over 200 games each for Everton.
But I do feel Jake Bidwell could be an important part of Everton?s future if he could find a way past Leighton Baines.
UPDATE: News released today confirms that Brentford have extended Jake Bidwell's loan for another month. Brentford manager Uwe Rosler told the club website: "I can only take my hat off to him for the level of performance he has delivered."
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468 Posted 16/02/2012 at 22:44:39
As you've pointed out, it will most likely take injury to oust him. Or a drastic loss of form. Or a sale in the summer (sorry, the cynic in me couldn't resist!)
469 Posted 16/02/2012 at 22:36:56
488 Posted 17/02/2012 at 00:41:24
491 Posted 17/02/2012 at 00:47:04
I'm pretty sure at some stage he will get an opportunity as I don't know a player that can play for 4 or 5 seasons without injury or temporary loss of form. (hope i haven't put the mock on Bainsey).
503 Posted 17/02/2012 at 04:52:57
506 Posted 17/02/2012 at 06:06:24
510 Posted 17/02/2012 at 07:50:37
514 Posted 17/02/2012 at 08:46:24
541 Posted 17/02/2012 at 11:52:30
545 Posted 17/02/2012 at 12:02:39
Good to see one of our younger players getting game time at a competitive level. Lots of lessons to be learnt at this point in their careers.
Hopefully next season will see him move up a level to the championship and Garbutt will foloow him by moving up a level too.
550 Posted 17/02/2012 at 12:29:36
Jake is very, very highly regarded there by all, has had a couple of indifferent games that you would expect from a lad of that age but is apparently improving game on game and they are very impressed.
He did also say that Everton have high hopes for him but forging a career at Everton may be a step above him and may find his level in the Championship. That said he didn't rule it out based on his current improvement
585 Posted 17/02/2012 at 14:00:01
Even though we have had hope before I will keep optimistic... He did play centrally with Garbutt at LB.. so maybe another option... Man I hope he comes good...
613 Posted 17/02/2012 at 17:16:41
If Bidwell has developed as well as the article writer mentions, then he certainly does have a future at EFC... The kid is still a lot younger than Baines and WILL get a chance to show his worth if he is persevered with by us. We have had a charmed life as far as Baines is concerned and decent cover is a priority for his position.
618 Posted 17/02/2012 at 18:22:44
Great article to read Dick, always love hearing in depth reports on our youngsters.
I'm very optimistic that 2 or 3 out of Bidwell, Duffy, Barkley, Garbutt, Baxter, Hope, Mcaleny and Lundstram will be in the first team in the next 3-4 years.
642 Posted 17/02/2012 at 21:33:46
Dick - if interested, I live 10 minutes from Colchester. Get in touch if you want to watch Everton games on TV or even better I'm happy to drive up to GP if sharing petrol costs helps? If so, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org Regards
658 Posted 18/02/2012 at 00:40:25
690 Posted 18/02/2012 at 10:11:57
His user name is alanball and there easily found. He will also answer any questions you have on the players and how they are getting on etc.
A good insight for those who want to know.
695 Posted 18/02/2012 at 10:25:02
Also considering that baines isn't the greatest defender but is very good going forward, and given Moyes preference for wingers who can help out in defence, it seems natural for Baines to move to the left wing spot over the next few years and Bidwell to be given some time at left back.
This also solves our problem of what to do when peanuts loan ends.
Moyes really needs to start looking towards the Youth system and giving these kids some time in the first team and using them the best he can. Giving Bidwell a loan spell is great for this season, but given our lack of cash it makes sense to use him in the first team and start saving 50/60k per week on journeymen loans.
696 Posted 18/02/2012 at 10:23:07
But, if he was back at Everton and Bainesy got injured, I am in no doubt Neville would get the nod at left back. Would be great if some of these young guns got a chance towards the end of the season, if we had our 40 points in the bag and there was nothing to play for. But, Moyes doesnt do things like that.
816 Posted 18/02/2012 at 20:31:29
Thos suggesting playing these guys at RB are forgetting we have Coleman who should develop into our long term solution for that role (I believe DM will revert him to this position once Prem teams figure out him out as a winger and/or one of Hibbet/Pip retire).
Most of our youth players that are being sent on loan are at League One and Two sides this season. Ideally, some of these will then be found Championship sides to continue their apprenticeship next season and then start breaking through to the first squad in two-three seasons time.
Either that, or be sold for a nice fee to boost DM's transfer budget.
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