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Season 2011-12
The Mail Bag

Youth Development

 26 Comments: First  |  Last

I have always been interested in the area of youth development and there has been a lot written about it in recent years. Basically, a good youth system underpins and feeds great teams in the long term. At a club level, you only have to look at Barcelona and at a national level look at Spain, Germany and Holland to see the benefits of investing properly in a good youth setup.

Everton are in a reasonable position to follow this path out of sheer financial necessity. We also have a well known name, history, plenty of youth pedigree and of course a place in the Premier League. To a certain extent, we seem to be doing okay in the youth area already. However, I think that this is an area where we really should apply the NSNO motto. We should aim to be the best (or as close to it as possible) for youth development. This is not only to produce the best youngsters but also to attract the best youngsters.

Specifically, we should ensure that we have the best possible coaching and support staff for our youth setup. This should include European etc coaches. We should aspire to provide the best technical coaching possible (we know that this is a weak area in UK). We should aspire to provide the best education for all our youngsters. We should aspire to provide the best facilities within our budget. Basically we need to aim for "world's best practice" in this area.

I know this won't win us any games this season but I really believe it could completely transform the club's fortunes in the long term.

Ciaran Duff, Sydney, Australia     Posted 19/10/2011 at 13:37:04

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Marcus Kendall
1   Posted 19/10/2011 at 14:39:59

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great post, its the way forward for our club as its a sound long term solution which potentially could keep us competing at a decent level.

unfortunately I don't get the feeling Moyes will employ technical coaches from abroad and hes much too cautious to give youth an extended run in the first team so until we get a manager with a proper football philosophy (Poyet) i think were stuck as we are playing the same old favourites

Nick Entwistle
2   Posted 19/10/2011 at 14:30:30

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If you were going to say this directly to Moyes he would probably say that's what he's aiming for or doing this already. As would most Premiership clubs.

I don't know if as individual clubs the EPL do anything different, but Spain benefit from literally thousands of UEFA licensed coaches, working at school or local level.

I think though as a nation, when the football goes wrong, we have inferiority complexes, looking towards other nations to see how it 'should be done right'. In the mid-nineties we all looked to the Ajax set up, then in the turn of the century it was to France, now its to Spain.

I'm not sure what additional benefits the Germans or the Dutch have with their investment of youth that you subscribe to, but if its financially when selling players on, then many of their big sales come from South American or African youth they are allowed to bring in without the visa requirements of the UK.

As for the Everton youth system, it all seems pretty positive.

Trevor Mackie
3   Posted 19/10/2011 at 15:36:59

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I'm repeating myself from another post but Everton don't produce top class footballers ? Rooney was, well Rooney.

Have to go back to Harvey and Royle from the late 60s prior to Wayne.

So deficient is our setup, Evertonians ? Owen, Fowler, McManaman, Carragher ? all England internationals chose Liverpool.

Beyond scandalous and the real reason we're so dreadful since Kendall.

Really can't see anti-football Moyes changing things in any way shape or form.
Ryan Holroyd
4   Posted 19/10/2011 at 15:51:54

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'So deficient is our set up'

Should read

So deficient was our set up

Trevor Mackie
5   Posted 19/10/2011 at 16:50:42

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Your confident assertion based upon what facts exactly?

Or are we in "wishing on a star" territory again.
Trevor Lynes
6   Posted 19/10/2011 at 17:13:43

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Most clubs have decent youth players...just look at the international side....Middlesboro' had a great youth side but they got relegated.

Youth should be the FUTURE of the club but if they are not ready for this season then we cannot count on them.

Our present first team squad is poor and if we get through this season without a relegation battle I will be pleasantly surprised.
Peter Barnes
7   Posted 19/10/2011 at 17:49:19

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Impossible to disagree that the way forward for us the youth set up.However I do have some reservations.

Firstly is keeping hold of them.There has been a lot of talk of Barkley being lured away and he hasnt even signed his first senior contract yet.

EFC also seem to be pretty good at getting very young players signed up.Leeds are still hacked off with us over Garbut.The rules on transfering young players requires serious overhaul or it may not be worth having a youth set up just to feed the other lazy bastards.

Secondly lets not get too carried away with youth.Remember in our Champs Leagure qualifying season we got stuffed at the Emirates 7 - 2 I think.They played a lot of youngsters that night who had got them into the league cup final.All the talk was how good would these guys be.Well if they were all around 18-20 then they should be around 24-26 now and Arsenak should have one hell of a side.Well as we know havnt.
Tony Cheek
8   Posted 19/10/2011 at 21:52:20

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I believe that the club do really good work at getting
young talent in. But not at all sure they have the right people to bring them through. If you look at the coaching team, they are nearly all defenders, and not particularly "articulate" ones either.
Great to see Big Dunc back in the team, as he can do a good job with "attitude". But who is going to teach them all the finesse of the modern game, where are the skillful masters of their craft. If we have to rely on Moyes "nurturing" these young diamonds, its a lost cause already!!
Ciaran Duff
9   Posted 20/10/2011 at 01:09:42

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Thx for the responses so far. A few points:-

Firstly, I am not on the ground at Finch Farm but it seems that Everton have a reasonable youth set up. I'm basing this on the number of players coming through and under age representatives etc. However, one of my main points is that reasonable is not good enough. It needs to be TOP CLASS. I would go as far as to say that it should be one of our top priorities as a club. If we get it right then we can reap the dividends in the long run.

Secondly, the quality of the coaching needs to improve. I think that it is generally accepted that the level of coaching in England is way behind other countries. Even the FA accepts this and is trying to address it. Everton needs to embrace this for its own sake as well as for the good of the general English game. The emphasis needs to be on developing complete footballers with great technical skills.

For far too long the "British" approach has been based around size, speed, power and competition. Its almost a survival of the fittest and IMHO it is not the best way to develop the best talent.
Thirdly, we need to look after our youngsters (eg their education) for their own good and also so that their parents are more likely to prefer Everton to other clubs.

If we end up with the "problem" of youngsters coming though and other clubs trying to poach them then that's not a bad problem to have me thinks.
Anthony Hughes
10   Posted 20/10/2011 at 07:37:51

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You can have all the coaching in the world but what we need is an excellent scouting network which can find the players with born football skills. Yes you can coach lads to be reasonable standard players but if we're after top class then we need to find the natural born footballers.
Trevor Lynes
11   Posted 20/10/2011 at 09:47:53

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Amongst the youngsters we had two are Baines and Jags who were not developed here... we let them go and later BOUGHT them back!! So much for our coaching.

Not many have actually made it to the first team over the past few seasons. We are certainly no better than any other club at DEVELOPING our young talent.
Ciaran Duff
12   Posted 20/10/2011 at 09:20:37

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Hi Anthony (#10) - Sorry I think that scouting and coaching are slightly separate issues.

Even if you manage to scout young players, you still need to coach them. Also they know that we have a great coaching system then they are more likely to come to us rather than a rival team.

The older I get, the less I buy the 'natural born' tag. Sure, some people may be born with certain strenghts but if you read about many of the great footballers, you'll find that much of their talent came through hard work and practice.

In a lot of cases, in the past, they put in the work themselves (eg David Beckham would spend hours and hours in the local park practicing, George Best went everywhere with a ball tied to his foot etc). No matter how much ability you have, you still need good coaching and practice.
Anthony Hughes
13   Posted 20/10/2011 at 10:48:20

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Point taken Ciaran, if we could combine both aspects it would be of huge benefit to the future of the club.
Ryan Holroyd
14   Posted 20/10/2011 at 12:34:21

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Trevor Mackie

Ermmm.... Wayne Rooney, Jack Rodwell, Ross Barkley, Leon Osman, James Vaughan, Victor Anichebe, Tony Hibbert. Michael Ball, Franny Jeffers, Gavin McCann all came through our academy and have played football at the highest level of English football.

Our youth setup had improved dramatically since the days of Fowler, Owen etc.

Our youth set up is hardly 'deficient', is it, you clown.
Mike Allison
15   Posted 20/10/2011 at 12:48:30

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I basically wrote this article about two or three years ago. I got a lukewarm reception at the time, but I couldn't agree more with you Ciaran.

Imagine if West Ham had kept everyone they produced in the 90s. We could aim for similar but be in a position to keep them all, then we'd be sorted.
Mark Burr
16   Posted 20/10/2011 at 12:49:07

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Don't worry lads we have Big Dunc on the case now. The youth had better be good now or else.....
As someone pointed out on an earlier thread, I don't see many of the youth players we have recently let go setting the world alight so you have to trust they are let go for a reason.
Sam Hoare
17   Posted 20/10/2011 at 12:45:09

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The fact that our youth team won the league last season would suggest that its hardly 'deficient' at the moment. Though i guess the real criteria to judge on are the players who come through into the first team. Fingers crossed in 5 years time the likes of Barkley, Lundstram, Mcaleny, Browning, Hope, Garbutt, Orenuga and Duffy are contributing significantly to either our first team or our bank balance!
Ian Tunstead
18   Posted 20/10/2011 at 13:20:34

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Ciaran, your post doesn't seem to show that you need good coaches it seems to show you need youth with a good attitude who are going to practice, practice practice.

How did Rooney get to be so good and all the other players who were coached by the same coach didn't manage to reach the same level as Rooney? Because he was a born natural talent. Sure he still had to put the work in and practice, but things just come easier to him than other footballers. It's like anything, I am crap at Maths, with some people it seems to come more naturally. I can work hard and practice and I will get better but that does not mean I have the natural ability to go on to do it at University level...

Or in a sporting context, sure Usain Bolt has worked hard to get where he is but he is naturally talented. If Usain and I did the same amount of training everyday with the same coaches would that mean I could become the fastest man in the world? I dont think so.
Sam Hoare
19   Posted 20/10/2011 at 13:46:56

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Orenuga just gone out on loan. Think that makes 4 youngsters on loan. Orenuga, Garbutt, Baxter and Duffy...really good for them to get first team experience at their age to aid their development.
Peter Warren
20   Posted 20/10/2011 at 13:49:37

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#17 Ian - Average players who have done well through hard work, determination and mentality - there's loads, Phil Neville for one, Stuart Pearce and the one who stands ot for me actually is Kevin Keegan. Germany have a nation of average players for years (don't get me wrong some exceptional players too) but right mentality - it is to do with coaching. There will always be players / athletes who have natural god given talent but by and large to do with coaching coulped with some talent
Ian Tunstead
21   Posted 20/10/2011 at 13:56:05

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Peter, it's the nature vrs nurture argument. I just believe there are some things that cant be coached Rooney was born with a phsique and attributes that gave him a natural advantage to most, naturally quick with explosive acceleration over the 1st few yards, naturally phsicaly stronger than the average player, they are just a couple of pysical attributes that he was blessed with, then you take into account character and personality.

It is naturally in his nature to be more aggressive than most with more fire in his belly than most, probably to do with his testosterone levels than coaching, his confidence bordering on arrogance can not be coached. You can lead a horse to water and have the best coaches but if some one doesnt have the right attitude and want to work hard and practice aswel as have the natural attributes of speed strength hunger desire aggresion then it will be much tougher to make it to the top.

People like Neville have worked really hard, had the right attitude and probably been a bit lucky having a brother who was better which might have helped him stay at Man Utd a bit longer, similar to the Silva brothers at Man Utd now. But just like Maths with me i have got far but i have had to put in twice as much time and effort and yes i have had good teachers or (coaches) But as the teacher said to me. " I dont expect you to thank me if you pass your exams, because it is you who has put in the work and the practice, i have only given you the guidance."
Nick Entwistle
22   Posted 20/10/2011 at 14:02:47

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World class English players will not happen when at the age of 19, 20 they are full-of-it millionaires with a level of fame which to today's youth dictates success having been achieved.

Personally, if clubs withheld two thirds of a player's salary till he turned 24 or left the club it would be beneficial all round.

And why so many so-so talents make England debuts at the age of 20 is beyond me. Premier League football is more difficult than international. Blood them at 24/25, make them earn it over a number of seasons of top line performances. Handing out England caps on a plate is pointless.

Also, becoming a footballer doesn't mean graduation into an intelligent worldly wise man. They should also be educated that endorsements, magazine lifestyle pieces, self promotion is really a mugs game. Success is what you do with your talent. Not the number of people who know that you did it, and how many interviews you did after the event.

One thing is for sure, you can have good English talent but it needs surrounding by a foreign mentality in the league, because when they need to stand up on their own in World Cups and European Championships they fear losing and are completely lost for all to see. Embarrassing themselves as their fake tanned whores and girlfriends look down from the stands behind thousand pound sunglasses, while the saps watching on TV watch the ad break with Rooney taking the ball past a couple of robots and drinks a Lucozade.

You can coach them all you like in skills but until this X-factor generation passes we're going to see a lack on youngsters turn into men.

Rant. Is. Over.
Ciaran Duff
23   Posted 20/10/2011 at 23:06:54

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Nice one Nick - tell that to young folk today and they'll laugh at ye!
Seriously, the amount of money around today and the general attitude of society can be a bad influence on kids. Certainly there were far less distractions in the past (unless you were George Best!). Still all countries face the same issue I guess.
Ian (#21) - I am not saying that coaching can turn me into Messi. However, I am saying that if you take the same bunch of potential kids (with varying levels of natural ability) and coach them properly then I believe that they will develop into a much better bunch of players than the same bunch who receive basic training. The "proof" of that is already obvious at an international level where it is notable how the countries that have put in the systems in place at a youth level reap the benefits later.
Ciaran Duff
24   Posted 21/10/2011 at 00:02:40

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BTW, there has been a lot of good discussion on this topic in Four Four Two mag in the last few months. October edition has a really interesting piece about Borussia Dortmund who were basically forced into serious youth development when they almost went bankrupt and couldn't afford to buy players.

They won the Bundesliga last year! Here is a link to another news article describing their set up:-
Stephen Kenny
25   Posted 21/10/2011 at 17:34:08

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I know a few coaches at lower league sides and I know a few dads who's sons are at various north west academies including one at EFC.

We are widely regarded to have the best set up for home grown talent and coaching in the country.

Misery guts Moyes has, contrary to popular belief put this in place. The club has invested a lot of time and money in this side as they have rightly(for once) seen that this is the only way we can develop the club.

There was a time when the Fowlers and Mcmanamanamanamanaman's of this world chose thwem over us, this is no longer the case.

It's an easy accusation to say that Everton haven't produced any world class players, bar Rooney, but they spotted him and got him in, the whole country hasn't produced much in the way of world class over the past few decades.
Martin Handley
26   Posted 21/10/2011 at 20:37:18

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Ciaran, couldn't agree more.

I've been saying for at least 3 years now that bringing the youth 'on' is probably the only way forward for us in our present predicament and current financial doom and gloom. We have more than enough prospects ready to be blooded, Mustafi, Duffy, Gueye, Vellios and Barkley are all 'good to go' as the yanks say.

Then we have the likes of Garbutt, Lundstram, McAleny, Hope who will all be ready for a game inside 12 months and also wonder kid Green will be with us from next season.

Yes, we will always have to supplement them with loans or freebies but if only 50% of the above make it then we'll have a half decent squad won't we?

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