David Unsworth is full of pride at the number of Academy products who have come through his Under-23s team to feature in important roles at first-team level this season.
The former Blues defender's team currently lead Premier League 2 despite the likes of Tom Davies, Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin having made the step up to the senior side under Ronald Koeman in recent weeks.
And with Matthew Pennington making his first start of the season in last Saturday's Merseyside derby and Jonjoe Kenny and Joe Williams named among the substitutes in the past two games, the importance and success of Everton's youth system has been very much evidence of late.
“It's been a wonderful couple of weeks for the Academy,” Unsworth told evertontv, “and the feeling is so strong, so together, and it really is brilliant when you see the end product of these lads getting the opportunity to play in our first team.
“It's brilliant to see, not just for the Under-23s but the whole Academy as well. The Academy produces great players and this is the right club for young Premier League footballers to come and develop and enjoy their journey with us. We produce these young footballers and there's no better place to play.
“We've got a manager at the moment who is not afraid to play the young lads and not afraid to put them in in threes and fours and fives, and it's just so refreshing.
“It also says everything about them as individuals, it says everything about the programme that we have in place from very, very young age groups up to Under-23 level.
“It's very much a team here. We have a group of coaches who are so passionate, who love this Club and we all strive for the same thing, which is to sit in the stands on a Saturday and see our homegrown players develop, play, be successful and win in our first team.”
Reader Comments (35)
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
1 Posted 07/04/2017 at 07:06:50
I know I sound harsh but that is the real proof for me that these players are good enough. At this stage of any season, injuries and dead rubber games give younger players their chance. The question is whether they will do enough in these games, and pre-season in July, to warrant being kept in the team for August.
2 Posted 07/04/2017 at 07:14:47
He's gathering experience and by the time the latest hired hand rides off into the sunset with his saddle bags bursting. Our boy could well be ready to make the step up.
We have historically done better when "one of our own" is at the helm. I want to believe our academy is not just for the players
3 Posted 07/04/2017 at 07:31:46
Holgate - Pennington - Jagielka - Baines
When it could have been:
Browning - Holgate - Jagielka - Baines, or;
Holgate - Jagielka - Galloway - Baines
No doubt we would have been better off with some of them, as well as Geri sat on the bench. I won't count McGeady or Niasse as some others would as they were never in our plans for the year. Add Grant in to the midfield options (Barry one booking short of another suspension) we could be short in a couple of weeks!
4 Posted 07/04/2017 at 08:13:26
5 Posted 07/04/2017 at 08:21:54
The litmus test will be where Koeman spends his funds close season, because that's were he's still to be convinced by the graduates.
6 Posted 07/04/2017 at 08:42:07
7 Posted 07/04/2017 at 09:15:24
Have the team got any pride to go and finish the season with a bang, I certainly hope so, Ronnie should be telling every one of them your fighting for you shirt for next season now not in the summer pre-season games.
We need more quality signings to boost the squad as no doubt Ronnie will have already have an idea who he will let go.
8 Posted 07/04/2017 at 09:22:39
Browning is on loan at Preston, gather he was playing well until getting a knock. So much so he was being linked with Swansea in some (rags) papers.
Also nothing about Garbutt anywhere, he is back at EFC but not getting a look in anywhere it seems.
9 Posted 07/04/2017 at 09:28:28
10 Posted 07/04/2017 at 09:49:46
11 Posted 07/04/2017 at 11:28:27
Pennington is only playing because of Coleman's and Funes Mori's injuries. We don't have another CB Koeman can pick. Personally if there are any experienced CB's out of contract I would sign them on a short contract till the end of the season.
What I want to know is why £11 million Lookman is sitting on the bench instead of running around on the pitch.
12 Posted 07/04/2017 at 11:47:27
I think Barkley was brilliant before he went off on the International Break by the way.
13 Posted 07/04/2017 at 11:57:59
I would love to see Dowell develop but he blows hot and cold like Barkley so I doubt Koeman or the fans could stomach both.
I have been more surprised at Holgate and Pennington playing outside their normal position at right-back when we have Jonjoe Kenny about ready to step up.
We also have Gethin Jones, who I didn't rate as highly, doing a pretty decent job in the Championship with Barnsley. Recalling him is another option.
14 Posted 07/04/2017 at 12:10:09
I hope I'm wrong but I suspect many of these vaunted youngsters will find themselves in championship teams or lower Premier League teams (which is still quite the achievement).
I'm pleased the U23s are doing so well but in some ways i'd rather see them struggling in their league but with one or two exceptional talents in the Rooney, Barkley mold. Those talents don't come around very often though there are high hopes I believe for Liam Walsh.
16 Posted 07/04/2017 at 12:36:00
Koeman has shown a huge turnaround from not wanting to play any of the young lads earlier in the season to almost playing too many of them at any one time.
It's always a huge step up and whilst Davis and Lookman did well when they initially came into the team, it was only natural that their impact would diminish. Actually, have we seen Lookman in the last month?
Whilst most of us would like to see our young players develop well and get into the first team, I think we also would like to see us bring in some great summer signings if we are going to be realistic about competing with the top 6 with an aim to break into the top 4.
17 Posted 07/04/2017 at 13:41:08
We are now able to see whether our academy graduates can cut it at this level, if they can't, they'll be shipped off to their appropriate levels and replaced by new prospects.
With the number of players coming through the academy, whether forced through injury or not, it would only increase the appeal of our club to players in that 16-20-year-old range with Premier League aspirations.
I am loving the way the club is being run under Farhad Moshiri, big things are coming.
18 Posted 07/04/2017 at 13:50:28
If we don't play them, they can't gain experience. Play them too much and they are Darren Gibson's at the age of 25.
I'm still very encouraged by Barkley's progress this season. As I've said before, he's leaner, he's meaner and he's keener.
Rhino? Very impressive coaching. He worked bloody hard at gathering wider experience long before Everton correctly hired him. Wasn't it following a very praiseworthy article in The Times or Telegraph or Guardian that days later saw Everton hiring him?
19 Posted 07/04/2017 at 14:08:47
I reckon you could be right there with the idea they are a team rather than great individuals. I certainly hope they all progress but I'm doubting it from what I've seen.
Davies & Holgate – no doubts.
Browning, Pennington & Galloway - possibly like Shane Duffy will be more suited a level down.
Galloway & Jones – they'll play a decent level though not near the first team at Everton.
Walsh – possible. Decent little player who needs a career defining loan to the championship next season.
Dowell – too much of a luxury player for the first team. He has talent can produce but in his position for the top level he needs to be outstanding. I expect a decent career though. He sort of reminds me of Chris Eagles. Maybe not fully in his play but that ability to produce the sublime with periods of non effectiveness.
Joe Williams – he has some limited qualities but lots of desire and graft. He has a chance but slim.
Henen – sorry no chance.
Garbutt – disappointing how he has stalled. For those wanting him around the first team, this is a player who has barely played for Wigan on loan at 23 due to being behind Stephen Warnock in his mid 30s.
20 Posted 07/04/2017 at 16:54:44
21 Posted 07/04/2017 at 17:02:05
Personally I'd like to see Kenny involved more as Coleman's understudy and Charsley just keeps on developing year after year.
22 Posted 07/04/2017 at 17:59:57
23 Posted 07/04/2017 at 20:46:40
24 Posted 07/04/2017 at 21:22:29
Whoever manages to break into the first team is fantastic for the club. However if a better player is available from outside at the right price then that theoretically at least, improves the bottom line. No disrespect for the players, just the facts of life.
But the Academy is a great part of the club and should be encouraged as much as possible.
28 Posted 07/04/2017 at 21:56:36
Kenny needs to play this season and lets see what he's got. Holgate inside and him at RB. A leader and tenacious but has moved round positions in the academy a bit before settling back at RB. Not the marauding type preferred these days but a steady performer.
Charsley one who has had a decent U23s season by accounts but I've not really seen him enough. Other players have stood out on the games I've seen.
Calvert-Lewin amazing season for a lad signed for £1m in August. If he can keep developing who knows but lets give him time and accept the times he'll be average he could get that improvement and consistency.
29 Posted 07/04/2017 at 22:07:11
30 Posted 07/04/2017 at 22:08:11
The numbers being pushed through and playing league football is as much as any club. It's just unearthing the absolute gems we need which would save us a fortune and could be the answer to get us in that top 4 in time.
31 Posted 07/04/2017 at 22:17:43
Also agree that young Jonjoe Kenny needs to be given a chance, because I'm sure he's ready to play, and it's really the only way, we are ever going to find out if he's good enough for Everton's first team?
32 Posted 07/04/2017 at 22:19:42
33 Posted 07/04/2017 at 22:33:53
Tom Davies stood out regarding fitness & attitude rather than footballing ability. Tom Davieshas obviously progressed significantly since then.
Haven't seen Wash since.
I have seen Robinson once since against Blackpool this season in that obscure cup (can't remember it's name) when he again was a stand out performer
I can't believe Robinson is not closer to the first teammates this team. While I think Leighton is good for now, I think to Robinson would be a more than adequate replacement..
34 Posted 07/04/2017 at 23:01:59
I can't seem to find any info out on the OS and the net is a bit sparse with info.
35 Posted 08/04/2017 at 00:51:39
Go to Everton U23 soccerway from google.
It's a very comprehensive site for the club and league.
Puts the OS to shame.
36 Posted 08/04/2017 at 01:04:46
So nothing has really changed from the days when Moyes was forced to have teenagers on the bench.
37 Posted 08/04/2017 at 01:09:49
38 Posted 08/04/2017 at 11:51:34
Many players look great in the early years but won't have what it takes to be a first team regular, hence loads ending up in leagues 1 & 2, some in the championship.
If Unsworth manages to deliver one regular first team member every two years, he would have done a great job imo.
Davies has been a real success so far so full credit there. He can only take a little credit for the likes of Calvert-Lewin, Holgate and Lookman as we bought them so didn't exactly bring them through ourselves. Personally I don't think Calvert-Lewin has what it takes to be a regular (yet anyway) and would hope Holgate will be in the first team squad next year as he did a decent job last season. Lookman needs a bit of time too.
I also have my doubts on Pennington, he looked like a fish out of water in the derby (harsh first league start admittedly) and at 22, you have to wonder why it's taken so long for him to make his first league start, he's got 50 odd appearances on loan in League 1 already. Can only tell once he gets more games under his belt, maybe he'll be a late bloomer. I think he has another year on his contract so would seem next year is make or break for him at Everton. If we buy another centre-back (or two) then I don't see him getting regular game time, especially with Holgate and Browning both available as well. He'll be at best 5th, if not 6th, in the centre-back pecking order.
Hope to be proven wrong but I don't think Calvert-Lewin and Pennington will be playing regularly in blue in the coming years.
39 Posted 09/04/2017 at 03:44:18
That is a much more informative site. CAnt understand why the OS is not giving the lads more coverage.
It looks like we are 2 points clear with Spurs(H) Chelsea (a) and the other lot (H) to come while City have The RS (A) and Southampton (H).
We need at least 4 points from 3 games to be sure if City win their last 2.
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.