Why Youth Could Be the Answer for Everton

One thing Everton have seemed to lack over the course of the season so far is pace and energy. So, could youth be the answer during these troubled times?

Gary McCarty 10/10/2017 24comments  |  Jump to last

It’s been a disappointing start to the season for Everton, especially in the Premier League. The Blues are currently way back in 16th place, with two wins, a draw and four defeats from seven games. For a season that seemed to promise so much, as The Toffees looked to better than their 7th placed finish of last term, it has so far failed to deliver for a number of reasons. All hope isn’t lost, though, as there are still 31 games to go and there’s a chance to strengthen again in January.

Even though things do look pretty bad based on current league position, a win in our next outing, an away fixture at newly promoted Brighton, would go some way to lifting the doom and gloom. Everton could climb as high as 10th if they take all 3 points and it would also mean they will have won two out of their last three games, picking up six points from nine. On that note, things would start to look a whole lot better for Ronald Koeman and his side.

For a long while, Everton have been putting a lot of effort into developing players for the next generation. They do a lot of work in unearthing new talent around the country but they’re not a club who look to develop and then sell; many of them get the chance to prove themselves in the first team and it’s great to see. One thing they have seemed to lack over the course of the season so far, though, is pace and energy. So, could youth be the answer during these troubled times?

At the top end of the pitch, many have commented on the fact that the Blues need to start stretching teams, rather than playing in front of them. Since Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been reintroduced to the side, Everton have looked far more of a threat in the final third. This is down to the energy he brings. You could also make a claim for Ademola Lookman to be involved, too. He’s like lightning across the floor and can play left or right side, or just behind the striker. For an area so lacking in pace, those two could really make the difference.

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There has to be a mention, too, for Tom Davies. The 19-year-old was like a breath of fresh air when he arrived on the scene last season and he already looks the part. Again, he adds energy into midfield, but not only that. One thing all these youngsters have in common is the fact that they have no fear. They’re not overawed because they’re playing against this star player or that star player, they just want to go out and play their football. Everyone saw how good Calvert-Lewin was earlier in the season when Everton faced Manchester City, for example.

The Brighton game is one Everton will definitely be looking to win and they will feel they have a really good chance of taking all three points. This sentiment has been echoed by bookmakers like Sportingbet, with Everton 13/10 favourites while the home team is 23/10 to win the game. We’ve seen them fair better over recent times since Calvert-Lewin has been back in the fold and Koeman will hopefully be considering the likes of Davies and Lookman as he continues his search for that winning formula that delivers on a consistent basis.  

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Reader Comments (24)

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Dale Rose
1 Posted 10/10/2017 at 12:56:10
Good article, Gary, I couldn't agree with you more. We have this talent, lets start using it.

The summer buys have shown that you cant buy quality, with the exception of Rooney, who would be pivotal for the younger players.

Danny Broderick
2 Posted 10/10/2017 at 13:13:20
We need some legs and enthusiasm in the team. I think we need 3/4 of the young players in the team, especially in attack. My team for Brighton would be:

Kenny Keane Jagielka Baines
Davies Gueye
Lookman Sigurdsson Vlasic
Calvert-Lewin or Rooney

I can't help thinking that we should be looking to build our team around Tom Davies. I believe Jonjoe Kenny is our best option at right back also. We need to consider Lookman and give him a game. I am not sure he is 100% ready for the Premier League, but we need pace and width and he offers both.

Some of the under-performing stars in the team need 'resting'. Schneiderlin and Williams need to re-charge their batteries and produce the goods when they are called upon again.

Brian Harrison
3 Posted 10/10/2017 at 13:30:31
There is no doubt that we have some very talented youngsters, but we need to be selective in how and when and how many should play at once. Also, it's a lot easier to introduce a youngster when the team is playing well, it's a completely different matter when a team is struggling as we are at present. I am a big fan of Tom Davies but he has had a couple of below par games this season, but that's what happens with younger players they nearly all lack consistency. But they are growing as players and need time and also need to be taken out of the action from time to time.

I think the gulf between the Under-23 league and the Premier League is massive, hence why most premiership clubs are sending some of their better kids out on loan to Championship teams. That way rather than play against lads roughly the same age, they are playing against seasoned professionals. So when they are included in the first team they have a better idea of what to expect.

I know Hansen once said you win nothing with kids and because of the success Man Utd had with the exceptional class of 1992, that is used as a counter argument. But for me Hansen's statement is right 99 times out of 100. So yes, introduce the kids by all means but not all at once, and over a period of time we may have some really talented players to call on for at least the next 10 years. Because we don't have the finance to compete with the top 6, this is a way over time that may allow us to compete.

Tom Bowers
4 Posted 10/10/2017 at 13:48:21
It's all about confidence. No matter what talent you have on the books or how deep it goes, if it cannot be transferred to matchday with the utmost desire to succeed then things will go wrong.

Everton have always had young talent, and none more so than this season, but as so often happens if they cannot break into the first team quickly they become impatient and unhappy which then turns their heads elsewhere. It's a natural trait with talented youngsters. They want things to happen overnight.

If I was under 21 and not in the first team squad right now, I would be wondering why, considering the poor performances of the experienced and big wage earners. If Koeman & Co. cannot instill the belief in these ''first teamers'' soon then a shake-up is on the cards before too much longer.

James Stewart
5 Posted 11/10/2017 at 09:37:24
It is the answer, I agree... but it won't be Koeman's answer, sadly.
Kevin Prytherch
6 Posted 11/10/2017 at 11:21:34
We could play an entire team of players who have either come through the Under-23s or who have been bought to develop there and, at the very least, survive in the Premier League right now... (I'm including Pickford as there isn't a credible alternative). Imagine a 3-5-2 of...

Holgate, Pennington, Browning
Kenny, Davies, Dowell, J Williams, Galloway
Calvert-Lewin, Lookman

This doesn't even include Vlasic or Sandro who are both under 23. It might not set the world alight but it would stand a good chance of surviving, and they'd probably play as a team.

The future could be bright if even half of these fulfill their potential. Don't forget, Michael Keane only started making it in the Championship when he was 22.

Matthew Williams
7 Posted 11/10/2017 at 15:04:17
For me, it would be 3-5-2:

Holgate Keane Galloway
Kenny Davies Barkley Dowell Garbutt
Calvert-Lewin Lookman

I would love to see that side play... sadly never gonna happen with Koeman in charge!

Steve Ferns
8 Posted 11/10/2017 at 16:42:50
Koeman is dramatically opposed to Youth. He was manager of the great academy club, Ajax. Yes, he did bring through youth, and perhaps our Dutch fans can add more, but the commentary I have read is that he was reluctant to do so. There's talk of not wanting to play youth at Valencia, but I can understand he was under pressure with an expensively assembled squad.

Here, he was reluctant to play our kids, before giving Davies a go after months of us screaming for him from the rooftops. However, let's give him credit. Forget hindsight, Davies had barely played for us, let alone started, when Koeman gave him a go in his greatest match, the 4-0 City win. So give him some kudos there.

However, he has been slow to pick Calvert-Lewin, and last season played him only out of position. But to be fair, he would need to drop Lukaku or rest Lukaku to have done so. Lookman also got a run of games before Koeman decided against playing him, I would say that was more Koeman not liking something about him than his age counting against him, or why would he have even picked him to start with?

Vlasic has played a lot this season, I do not think he has missed a game yet. He is younger than Kenny, and can be considered youth but is not an academy prospect. Kenny is someone everyone likes the look of. It's not just us fans who do not have his knowledge or insight, it's everyone who's seen him play, particularly ex-pros, coaches and scouts. They all rave about him, and I can see why. Koeman won't pick him.

Davies himself has dropped out of contention for a starting place, having effectively been replaced by Klaassen, and Koeman won't drop an out-of-form Gueye for him (he cannot do Schneiderlin's job for me). Dowell was sent out on loan (older than Vlasic) rather than play, despite a good pre-season and with Rooney (31), Sigurdsson (27), and Klaassen (24) ahead of him, it's difficult to see where he figures in Koeman's long term vision.

We are crying out for pace and width and yet Lookman barely features. We lack left-sided cover and yet Connolly and Galloway have gone out on loan. Liam Walsh could be an interesting choice instead of Schneiderlin in a League Cup match, but he went out on loan (no doubt there was genuine assurances from the now sacked Redknapp).

To be fair, he has stood by Calvert-Lewin and has played him and increasingly so in the No 9 role. It's just he has not started a run of games in the position. Surely, he has the youthful energy that could see him play twice a week for months or weeks without a rest.

I want to see an Everton side full of scousers, full of youth, and Koeman appears to be reluctant to promote the kids, but yet it was only a few games ago that he played 8 English players. (It was 9 really as Williams is English born.) So we cannot say he does not favour the local talent. It's perhaps his caution that holds him back. Kenny is the one I cannot understand. He must play. He can no do worse than Martina. He deserves Koeman to play him and to stand by him if things go wrong the way he has stood by the dreadful Martina.

Jay Harris
9 Posted 11/10/2017 at 17:05:20
Only Danny (#2) has included Vlasic in his side.

He would be one of the first names on the sheet for me together with Sigurdsson who is now starting to find some form having missed his preseason.

I would go for 3 at the back and drop Schneiderlin so my team would be:

Kenny Keane Jags Williams Baines
Davies Gana
Vlasic Sigurdsson

Steve Ferns
10 Posted 11/10/2017 at 17:10:51
Who would play the David Luiz role, Jay? None of Keane, Jags or Williams can turn defence into attack. Without this, the formation will not do what you think it would do. You must have a David Luiz to come forward and immediately become a midfielder. Stones would have been brilliant at it.
Jay Harris
11 Posted 11/10/2017 at 17:16:35
I think Keane is ideal for that role.

He has shown himself capable of that particularly recently for England.

Steve Ferns
12 Posted 11/10/2017 at 17:28:02
Are you serious? He's a centre half with above average technical ability. He needs to be on a par with John Stones or a David Luiz type.

And that's without mentioning his below par passing ability. He needs to have an exceptional range of passing, not every other ball goes to the opposition.

Jay Harris
13 Posted 11/10/2017 at 21:48:18
I believe that is a lot to do with the confidence of the team, Steve.

Keane is noted in a lot of quarters for his ability on the ball.

Steve Ferns
14 Posted 12/10/2017 at 00:24:06
Well let's hope he can become the player you believe him to be, consistently, for the rest of the season.
Charles Brewer
15 Posted 12/10/2017 at 08:24:11
Kevin (#6), if I were any of those players (apart from Pickford) I'd be looking for the fastest route out of Goodison to a decent club that I could find. They are all going to be left on the sidelines while the likes of Klaassen, Sigurdsson, Williams, Schneiderlin and Martina are played with the increasing likelihood of relegation or a close escape.

That will do none of their reputations any good ("He wasn't good enough for an Everton team that was relegated after over 60 years in the top flight" is not the best comment to have) and even the prospect of playing alongside a bunch of donkeys like that group can't be very appealing.

Charles Brewer
16 Posted 12/10/2017 at 08:24:50
Sorry, I forgot: Koeman Out!
Tony Abrahams
17 Posted 12/10/2017 at 08:59:31
I hope youth can be the answer, but just not under these tactics. I read people picking teams, but not many pick genuine width, which is what we are badly lacking right now.

Off subject, but I was reading that Southgate is going to now start playing with three centre-backs. Will it work? I personally think England will start to gradually improve now, even if that's not my point.

He's a manager, he's getting stick for the way his team are playing, so he's decided to change, and I think at least 20% of Evertonians would be delighted if Koeman, made the same choice.

Anto Byrne
18 Posted 12/10/2017 at 13:01:24
Let's get a few results and a bit of luck. We've still got 31 games to go. The pundits reckon Everton will be top 8 by Xmas. Add a decent striker and another central defender – we could well go after 6th. Let's be positive instead of gloom and doom.
Tony Abrahams
19 Posted 12/10/2017 at 15:26:33
If the manager picks his strongest eleven, and changes the tactics, I'm sure the gloom would begin to lift immediately, Anto.
Gary Drain
20 Posted 12/10/2017 at 16:40:23
I can't see him giving the kids a chance whilst things aren't going well, even though this is what the majority of us want to see.

I think Ron needs to swallow his pride and admit he's got it wrong so far this season. But I think he's too stubborn to admit it.

Playing Niasse from the start against Burnley was a desperate act and it made him look like he is clutching at straws. Before you say "Niasse scored 2 the week before!" I think he's the type of player who you need to come off the bench to change the game.

I want Koeman to succeed and he is a big draw regarding getting players to sign for us. But he needs to swallow his pride and realise that, for a player to get his confidence back, he can only do that in a position he is the most comfortable.


Scott Hall
21 Posted 12/10/2017 at 17:00:17
Sadly, I don't think Koeman will change anything.

But just imagine for a moment that Koeman is sacked and David Unsworth is given the top job. Imagine his first home game in charge. It's under the lights and the team comes through with positional balance, it's attack-minded and there's youth. The buzz and excitement of a true blue in charge, true blues in the starting line-up, and 40,000 true blues ready to back them to the hilt. Imagine how loud we'd roar when Z-Cars hits on that day.

Now come back to reality. I barely feel like standing when Z-Cars hits at the moment. A terrible feeling for a fan to have and one that must transcend onto the players.

Dale Rose
22 Posted 15/10/2017 at 12:17:52
Mathew 7. Great pick. Love to see a team like that. At least there would be some passion.
Neil Carter
23 Posted 16/10/2017 at 22:15:46
The only time we've looked half-decent and interested is when there are young players on the pitch. Their attitude comes from their manager who's winning games every week.

Give Unsworth his chance now before it's too late this season. Koeman won't change now.

Charlie Lloyd
24 Posted 18/10/2017 at 00:34:33
Matthew @ 7

I really do get where you are coming from; just a few points though.

Galloway can't get a game at Sunderland currently. He didn't get many on loan at WBA last season either. How is he expected to walk back into our first team?

Garbutt. Have you actually seen him playing for the U23s this season? He's honestly very average. Wish I could say he was worth a punt but he's so clearly not.

Please add to this list before others start citing them as saviours: Browning, Pennington and Williams. They are certainly not awful but they shouldn't be expected to have first team positions. It's just the reality and they fall a little short.

We should now look towards the current crop who are emerging albeit still developing: Walsh, Baningime, Evans, Feeney and Sambou.

I've left Dowell off because he's on loan at Nottm Forest so not available for the first team and it's difficult to predict whether he may make the step up in the future.

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