Why didn’t Francis Jeffers fulfil his undoubted potential?

Friday, 25 May, 2018 20comments  |  Jump to most recent

An extensive and well-written review of a hugely disappointing career for another potential world-beater from the Everton Academy.

If ever a career personified ‘what could have been', then it's Francis Jeffers'. Now the 37-year-old he is trying to carve a career out of coaching having initially returned to Everton on a voluntary basis in 2014. Two years later, he joined the club's coaching set-up permanently and is hoping to help young players avoid making the mistakes he did. With a sharp football mind, this may be the career in which he can truly fulfil his potential.

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Reader Comments (20)

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 25/05/2018 at 16:50:23
Poor application, poor attitude much like Jack Rodwell and probably also like Rodwell too many injuries.

Players like Jeffers fall into the Michael Branch, Jack Rodwell, Danny Cadamarteri category, suspect attitudes.

Players with maybe less drum beating from fans at young ages but far more application and stronger attitude and character are the likes of Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert etc.

Steve Ferns
2 Posted 25/05/2018 at 17:03:32
Jeffers sustained a terrible knee injury. He was sold to Arsenal and pumped full of drugs. He was never the same player again. After Everton did this with Jeffers, and with Ball who was sold to Rangers, the rules were changed to prevent players from taking injections to pass medicals; Rangers tried to take us to court over the issue.

As for Jack Rodwell, it was not a poor attitude at all. He had a good attitude and was a model professional at Everton. He was plagued by injuries and sold to Man City at a time many on this site were debating whether he should be a starter or not due to inconsistent form coinciding with those injuries. You can't blame Jack for going to City, particularly at a time when his career was so stop-start, as he never knew if that contract would be his last.

Going back to Jeffers, he didn't help himself by drinking and smoking. The effects of drinking on rehabilitation from injury are now well documented. I think that, with the money they get paid these days, all professionals should be teetotal — they've all the time in the world to drink themselves stupid when they retire.

Kieran Kinsella
3 Posted 25/05/2018 at 17:10:01
I could never understand the fuss about Jeffers. I remember when he made his debut I was completely underwhelmed. He was weak looking, his shooting was very weak (less power than even Osman) and he seemed to scuff a lot of shots. The goals he got were usually scuffed tap-ins.

I assume he was more of a standout as a kid and his early reputation carried him along even though as an adult he never did anything to warrant his burgeoning reputation. attitude, lifestyle, injuries just exacerbated it.

Cadamarteri I would argue was a headless chicken Shaun Wright-Phillips type. He hit a lucky patch when he first came through but was never that good.

Jim Bennings
4 Posted 25/05/2018 at 17:26:49

From what I read in various autobiographies Rodwell never possessed the greatest attitude as you think.

Taking a paragraph from Leon Osman's book.

“Jack was a very talented footballer but his outlook after games bemused me, it seemed he was quite pleased with his own personal performance after games we had just lost, almost as though he was saying I've had a good game there so what's the fuss, whereas I (Osman) would sit there in the dressing room fuming we had lost even in games I'd scored in.”

I get the feeling with many young players these days it's all about personal glory and self-adulation and the team comes second, not just in Jack Rodwell's case but it's less bred into young players I think nowadays about the importance of "team comes first; you second".

Ajay Gopal
5 Posted 25/05/2018 at 17:39:44
Sadly, Ross Barkley's career seems to be headed the same way — injury hit, and badly advised. At one point, I was excited about seeing a potential Everton midfield consisting of Rodwell, Barkley and Dan Gosling! Ha!
Kieran Kinsella
6 Posted 25/05/2018 at 17:49:37

I disagree with your comments on "young players these days."

Osman basically paraphrased what Sharp said, talking about Cottee after he scored two consolation goals in a 6-2 thrashing at Villa. There have always been glory hunters.

The other argument you could make is that maybe Rodwell, having frequently been left on the bench or played out of position was disgruntled. Therefore, when he got to play maybe he had a sort of "Screw you, Moyes, I did my part so it isn't my fault if the team lost with your favorites Anichebe, Neville etc struggling as makeshift wingers, center mids" etc.

Additionally, I think the manager takes some responsibility for fostering that team commitment. Case in point: Man Utd. When you hear Scholes, Neville, Giggs etc talk, they lament the loss of that team spirit since Fergie left. Fergie himself, was quick to push Keane out the door once he started to disrupt the morale. I think a lot of other managers are too weak to do that.

Finally, you have to be somewhat skeptical about these biographies. If Osman or anyone else wrote a book saying "We all got along, everyone did their best, the end." No-one would buy it. They have to exaggerate things so that the press pick it up and we all rush out to buy their books and boost their coffers once their careers are over.

Mark Dunford
7 Posted 25/05/2018 at 18:43:27
We do seem to have had more than our fair share of young players who haven't fulfilled their potential in the past 20 years or so – for a range of reasons: bad advice, silly behaviour and chronic injury. My worry is that we have a particularly promising group now – probably the best since the early 1980s.

Of course, they all won't make it - yet a number should and this could give us as many as 4 or even 5 very good players. We can't really predict who they'll be.

One thing is notable from the games is that they seem to see themselves as a group: Holgate, Davies, Baningime, Clavert-Lewin, Kenny, etc. They all need support and opportunity. It is clear BS wasn't going to provide this and we need to ensure that the next management team does.

Brands has made some very encouraging remarks. We want to retain the young players so we have more like Osman and Hibbert (who stay with the club to contribute over time) and fewer who leave to languish on a medal-winning subs bench elsewhere.

Mike Gaynes
8 Posted 25/05/2018 at 21:14:45
Keiran (#6), check out James Corbett's book Faith of our Families. According to the anecdotes, Franny's teammates thought he was something pretty special.
Rob Dolby
9 Posted 25/05/2018 at 22:53:10
Big time Charlie who thought the game owed him a living.

Going to a club who had Berkamp and Henry thinking he was going to play above them is dilussional.

How he got a job back with us is beyond me. A bad apple if ever there was one.

A proper gobshite.

Don Alexander
10 Posted 25/05/2018 at 23:50:42
Jeffers was perhaps fortunate that in his way-too-brief pomp there were nowhere near as many camera phones as there are now. Persistent rumours, albeit all unsubstantiated as far as I know, but they were persistent, of his erm "life-style" weren't to be found in coaching manuals as best practice.

“If I was coming through now, there is no way I would be leaving this football club. Why would you? Especially being an Evertonian, a young scouse lad dreaming of playing for them” – is a quote from him since Kenwright took him back as an unpaid coach.

Well that's all fine and dandy Franny but we already had a misfit forward who was also signed on by Kenwright as an unpaid coach, his playing career also being a car-crash in spite of his God-given talent, so what do you now (or him) deliver to the kids as good practice, apart from NOT doing bloody stupid, selfish things?

William Cartwright
11 Posted 26/05/2018 at 06:40:46
I have mixed feelings about how to best utilize the Academy prospects.

Ferguson was the worlds best at fostering team spirit and simultaneously being totally ruthless when it came to not maintaining standards but changing them for the better every summer! His strength of character and overall man-management attributes allowed him to do this without disrupting, and most cases improving upon the team spirit.

I think he benefited from the 80 version of the 'Busby Babes' with Giggs, Beckham, Scholes and the Nevilles providing an instinctive camraderie around which incoming talent could latch onto.

The optimist in me believes that in Pickford, Kenny, Holgate, Lookman, Calvert-Lewin, Beningame, Dowell, Davies, etc., could develop very quickly the 'core' of a team which, with Pickford and 4 to 5 well motivated and selected complementary players, could do surprisingly well. Gueye, Walcot, Tosun, Vlasic, Siggurdsson, etc. . .

An example of the difficulties of this approach is the challenge of say Coleman and Kenny - 2 of my favorite players. Coleman should be playing and be captain. Kenny could become a captain in the future, but must be playing, and not out of position! Options are:- 1) Move Coleman on (unthinkable!) 2) Kenny on loan (but for how long, and he must not become an outsider).

Jeffers role in this, plus Big Dunc is integral to the team ethic, but suspect because of the 'jobs for the boys' mentality. Was Jeffers ever a great player? Probably not Judging from his career stats. Do he and Big Dunc appreciate the subtlety of their impact on the team ethic? Very likely. This is where I start to understand the breadth of the role of DOF. The overview is essential, with balance being the key.

Jim Bennings
12 Posted 26/05/2018 at 17:42:39
Don’t think any of our young players are as good as Fulham’s Sessegnon mind you, this lad is a real genuine talent .

Jack Convery
13 Posted 26/05/2018 at 19:21:05
He had his head turned and took really bad advice, when he left us. He and Campbell were very good together.

He's now a footnote in EFC history, when it could have been so much more.

The biggest wasted talent for me was and always will be Billy Kenny.

Peter Gorman
14 Posted 27/05/2018 at 11:00:25
Kieran, the only part of your assessment of Jeffers I can agree with is 'weak looking'. Once he struck up a partnership with Super Kev, his obvious talent came to the fore.

I can't recall exactly which team it was but possibly against Charlton, his all-round display had Alan Hansen purring 'the kid Jeffers has everything'. More fanciful comparisons to Bergkamp followed.

I fear your recollection of him as a player may be warped by his second spell at the club where he was indeed garbage and barely looked like a footballer.

Ash Moore
15 Posted 27/05/2018 at 14:42:43
Ahhh, the fox in the box. Franny.

Ironically, the only goals I can recall him scoring where on his one and only England appearance – Rooney's debut too as it happened.

Oh, and the one he scored for Arsenal against us in a late-season hiding.
He celebrated by kissing the Arsenal badge. Why do we bring these jokers back?

Victor Yu
16 Posted 28/05/2018 at 08:20:49
Jack Rodwell didn't fulfill his potential because Moyes moved him to midfield.
James Cadwaladr
17 Posted 05/06/2018 at 17:04:38
Kieran can't agree with your thoughts about Jeffers.

Had the best movement of any Everton striker I can think of in my time (match going since 87). Very clever payer and had some bottle.

Tommy Carter
18 Posted 05/06/2018 at 17:20:53
Jeffers suffered because of a poor attitude and lack of application.

He was part of a really bad crowd of Ball, Dunne, Cademarteri and others whose behaviour was often appalling.

Amazingly still earns a living with EFC

Alan Bodell
19 Posted 05/06/2018 at 17:54:04
Greedy bastard, wanted a big contract and fucked all over us and now he's back? Unbelievable that we are becoming a home for any that came through our academy and one guy that got shafted was Kevin Sheedy, a proper legend, we really are a joke and it's so fucking not funny.
Alan McGuffog
20 Posted 05/06/2018 at 18:43:08
Didn't Ball, Dunne and Jeffers all play in the last victory at Mordor? If so, may we have some more bad lads, please?

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