One stray pass and the honeymoon is over

Darren Hind 21/02/2019 84comments  |  Jump to last

Something has troubled me for years at about our club, well it more than troubles me, it drives me mad. Why do a certain section of our fanbase react so negatively to players who either grow up coming through the ranks, or join our academy in their late teens?

I could go back as far as the sixties and the stick Jimmy Husband received after a very brief honeymoon period... But, if I was to list all the "targets" since, I would be here all night.

Davey Moyes lost the best player we have produced in recent times, a real blow for all of us. However; he was able to call upon two incredible professionals for just about the entire length of his tenure... although Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert were targeted almost from the off.


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A section of our fan base decided they were not premier league standard and Despite playing hundreds games in the top flight, often getting to top 5-6, it was a tag they would never really shrug off. Hibbert must be the only player in history who was blamed for a cup final defeat, without ever being behind when he was on the pitch. Chelsea utterly dominated our players all over the pitch, but poor old Tony still cops it today.

So what is it about these academy boys? Are expectations too great? Do we expect them to be world class because they are living the dream? Is there an element of jealousy?

I don't get it. If our Under-23s or Under-18s are doing well, we love it. We all love to watch our favorite youngsters being promoted to the big time. So why is the honeymoon period so short-lived? Why did people start to groan when Jack Rodwell's name was called after less than a season? Why was he not universally supported?

Why did the crowd react so badly when Barkley tried something different and it didn't come off? When he first broke onto the scene he was christened 'Diamond', considered a huge prospect by most observers. I know people will say he got this reaction because he would not sign a contract, but I would disagree. The groans and the anger were very much in evidence long before that.

John Stones didn't escape. brought into the first team about five years earlier than most Center halves, his talent was obvious to all. How we craved a footballing centre-half... that is until he actually started to play football. Admittedly he didn't do himself any favors by telling the Park End panic merchants to calm down, but he was just a boy... and, to be honest, he was right. They did not forgive him.

Tom Davies had been making a name for himself for quite a while before he was given the call. We couldn't wait. After a few glimpses of promise, he suddenly exploded against Man City's multi-million pound outfit, bringing the house down with a stunning goal. surely they wouldn't turn on him??? Well, not for a good couple of weeks anyway. The familiar groans and grumbles soon surfaced: "He's Championship standard."

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was another who progressed up from Unsworth's team. His qualities where obvious, but so were his shortcomings. Like most of the others, he was received warmly... but, once again, it didn't last. I only ever hear people talk about what he can't do.

Since the dawn of the Premier League, transfer fee`s and wages have rocketed. Ordinary players cost insane amounts of money. A striker who scores could cost you £10M. A striker who doesn't score can still very easily knock you back £20M. Goalies cost £30M, centre-halves (ordinary ones) cost about the same. Unless you are one of the super-rich clubs, players coming through your academy are absolutely essential for your survival.

Osman, Hibbert, Rodwell, Barkley, Stones, Davies and Calvert-Lewin to name a few, cost nothing (or next to nothing) Probably because, none of them had any real Premier League experience. They learned or are learning their trade here... in the Premier League. If we didn't have these guys coming through and saving the club millions, we wouldn't be able to afford the so-called superstars.

We have made north of £100M through the sales of those we couldn't hang on to and we have had hundreds of appearances out of those we could. We are not talking about established highly-paid Premier League players here. Nor are we talking about high earning international superstars – they cost more than we can afford. We're talking about the lowest-paid players in the first team trying to carve out a career.

Why do we place such demands on them? Why are we so quick to write them off. Why can't we be like other clubs and sing "He's one of our own"?

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Reader Comments (84)

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Terry Farrell
1 Posted 22/02/2019 at 06:59:15
Darren totally agree with you. When we beat Chelsea 3 1 stones put in the best performance for a centre back I've ever seen against costa who tried to bully him. Our crowd are not supportive enough. Against West ham this guy next to me says Kenny is not good enough at this level. I said you'll need at least a season to say that. This is what they are up against. Fifa PlayStation merchants with a glass half full.
John G Davies
2 Posted 22/02/2019 at 07:19:14
Brilliant article.

Ossie was a pure footballer who got ripped because of his lack of physical attributes. A player good enough to play for top four sides in my opinion.

Hibbo would run through a brick wall for this club. Moyes's decision to play Ossie wide right in the cup final on a blisteringly hot day offered him no protection against Cole and Malouda.

Onto latter day kids. I have said it repeatedly, they are scared to express themselves because of the reaction of our fans.

Tom Davies struggles with this at times, I have said many times one thing he won't do is hide.

Kenny is a latter-day Hibbo, not the most gifted but 100% every time.

Calvert-Lewin has the potential to be a very good centre-forward if allowed to develop.

Ademola, a natural footballer if ever I saw one.

Bottom line? Cut them a bit if slack. If they make a mistake, back them. It's the ONLY way they will develop.

Stephen Bird
3 Posted 22/02/2019 at 07:28:22
Darren, well said

Unfortunately, historically we have always had a loud minority of scathing criticism cascading down from the terraces when the slightest thing goes wrong.
It can destroy the young and inexperienced but it is not just concentrated on young home grown talent, though as you make your point, they are the most vulnerable to the effects of negativity.
I remember first home game the season following our league win in 85, 4 minutes in and Neville sliced a clearance into the stand to a raging cacophony around me of " fuck of Southall you twat "

Tony Everan
4 Posted 22/02/2019 at 08:20:36
Good article Darren, thanks

I think it's not just us, I think it is symptomatic of the Premier League.

There is so much money, so much competition it is incredibly tough for any academy lads to break through. Look at Loftus-Cheek with Chelsea . I really rate this player, I would like us to sign him !, but he struggles to get any meaningful game time.

This vastly increased competitiveness of the league means there are no hiding places . Homework will be done thoroughly by opponents, weak links will be incessantly targeted and exposed.

This makes the academy lad's life even harder !, he is not just trying to make the breakthrough, he is being targeted. Often teams will double up against the perceived weak link. I've seen it week in week out with Seamus since his injury . There is no mercy.

As Bob Marley said in his aptly named song for this article [Could you be Loved?]

''Only the fittest of the fittest shall survive''

Tony Abrahams
5 Posted 22/02/2019 at 09:27:04
Even the Best 60 grand signing I’ve ever seen play in a blue shirt, was getting howled at in the end, so it’s not just the homegrown kids who get slaughtered by the Everton crowd.

I remember people screaming at Stones, who got no help off his experienced keeper, but that’s what good players do, they play themselves out of fucking trouble, and I wish I could see more of it, if I’m being absolutely honest.

Great article Darren, because I personally think Everton’s kids, have possibly stopped the club going into administration a couple of times, and with four World Cup winners excluding Davies, I would love to see us eventually build a team with and around these very talented kids.

Alan McKie
6 Posted 22/02/2019 at 10:23:35
Everton have the reputation of giving youngsters a chance, no more than in the late sixties. The 68 FA Cup final side against WBA had no fewer than six homegrown players: Wright, Labone, Harvey, Husband, Royle, Hurst and throw in Morrissey as a local lad. You can also add Kenyon, Whittle and Johnson to them. We won the league 2 years later with the same players.

So many in fact that any criticism from disgruntled fans could be shared around. I still can't believe we lost to West Brom in the final, having beaten them twice already that season, including a 6-2 away win only a few weeks earlier.

Alan J Thompson
7 Posted 22/02/2019 at 10:34:35
Sorry, load of bollocks using one argument that these players haven't or won't reach their peak because their faults are pointed out by a section of the fan base who pay good money to watch and hopefully be entertained. Take any large number of people and, unless they are afraid to voice their opinion there will always be a smattering of every possibility, rightly or wrongly, and if you want a life in the public light, or part of a particularly subjective website, then get used to it.

Stones looked to have a footballing side to him but like Mervyn Day, despite the good things there was always an error that led to a goal — most noticeably against Watford and Man Utd at Goodison and the case of Dehlibelly at Anfield.

I have no inside information but my opinion is that Kenwright engineered Rooney's move from Goodison, not Moyes, and there was also the matter of those at Everton who had shares in the Agency that came to represent Rooney but I don't remember any supporters on his back while at Goodison.

It seemed to be fairly obvious to most that Rodwell was played out of position and many called for him to be played where he was most suited as a lot of the time he looked like a talented central defender being played in midfield.

For me, Barkley was the biggest disappointment as he was the one I thought the most skillful and argument continues as to whether he left because of a wage difference or personal matters or both and perhaps he did get undeserved criticism possibly as a lot had seen that which he was capable.

Davies is another who seems to have been told by coaches or management to worry more about the defensive part of his game and losing possession rather than playing his more natural game and it has had an effect which supporters pick up on.

As for Hibbert in the Cup Final, he was to blame for a goal but I was of the opinion that he was played despite being injured and subbed at half time but most that I know thought he was a fairly decent full back who had trouble defending the back post and Van Nistelrooy at least used to look for him. He gave of his best but was not top class and if you think wanting better affects his game then you may have one point.

Calvert-Lewin gets an unfair share of criticism for a player still learning his trade but this seems more a case of frustration since we parted with Lukaku, a player you said could not be coached to trap a ball.

To lay the blame solely at the feet of the fan base may be overlooking that it is the way of getting an opinion over to the coach rather than the player.

As you say, it may trouble you but, in large groups of people, your opinion may trouble others.

Danny Broderick
8 Posted 22/02/2019 at 11:21:38
I agree with the sentiment of your article Darren. I think we are a difficult club to manage. We clearly are nowhere near challenging for trophies, but we have sections of our fan base that demand that we are challenging for trophies. These sections of our fan base will not be patient to allow us to develop from, say, the 8th or 9th best team in the Premier League to challenge top 6, then top 4 etc. They want it all yesterday. I have heard pretty much every player described as shite at some point in my lifetime.

As a fan base, we have stopped getting behind the players. Most players don't have a song sung for them by the fans, even some of our better performers like Digne, Gana Gueye etc.

I heard Valencia described as a very political club in Spain when Gary Neville went over there. There was a suggestion that they were difficult to manage, because they had a rich history but were constantly struggling to live up to former glories. This led to constant managerial changes, and a divided fan base. Sound familiar?

Under David Moyes, love him or hate him, we had a clear direction. He was supported by Kenwright, the players all bought into his philosophy, and the fans were onboard too. Moyes used the crowd well to be fair, he would give the fans sound bites to whip us up for the big games. We were all going the same way. This was the same in Martinez's first season as well.

As soon as we encountered problems under Martinez though, the fans started to turn on the players and this has been the case ever since. The atmosphere at Goodison is now dreadful.

I don't know what the solution is, but the fans could be doing more to help the team. What hope have the young lads got when the fans are ready to turn on them at the slightest bad game, or bad run of games?

We desperately need everyone on side and pulling in the right direction. Whatever the frailties of the players, we should be there to support them and coax more out of them. It seems very toxic at Everton at the minute, we need to get behind the players and manager again.

Brian Williams
9 Posted 22/02/2019 at 11:46:07
Just to answer the question of why we don't sing a la Harry Kane "he's one of our own" IMO it's because Kane just happens to be Spurs outstanding player, their talisman, their goal scorer. We currently haven't got "one of our own" that's fit to lace his boots unfortunately.

Secondly I don't believe the scorn we throw at our locally produced players is any worse than the scorn thrown at the rest of them to be honest. I don't think we're different (as much as we'd like to believe we are) from supporters of other clubs who, when the going gets tough, slag their players, their manager, the groundstaff, the caterers, you get my gist!

The REAL problem with a lot of Evertonians is, in my opinion (and have a think about this before you slag me rotten) there is a hardcore of Evertonians that firmly believe that in the eyes of the Premier League and the world we are a massive club just on the verge of becoming the club we were in the mid-80s dream success.

We're not, and haven't been that club for a long time. Yes we've had the odd near miss, both with Moyes and Martinez but on the whole we have been, and are, an upper mid table club with a rich history.

And thereby stands the problem HISTORY.

The Championship and lower leagues abound with former big clubs with a rich history. Notts Forest, Leeds and Aston Villa to name the first three that spring to mind.

Our history shackles us in my view, it also means that the lads Darren mentions are forever compared (not directly) to players from our halcyon days and when they don't reach our misplaced expectations they get it in the neck.

Don't get me wrong I'm not a fucking apologist or an acceptor of mediocrity it's just how it is at the moment, and has been for some time.

Nobody wishes more than me to see us batter the shite and stand toe to toe with Utd, City and the like but the only club that's managed to come back from the dead as it were is Man City and there's about 3 billion reasons why they've managed it.

Will we ever reach the pinnacle again? Realistically? Probably not.

Darren I apologize, mate, for sidetracking on the original subject of the thread but it's something I've wanted to post for a good while and have been putting off.

Andy Meighan
10 Posted 22/02/2019 at 12:21:29
Danny @8,

I don't think the atmosphere at Goodison is dreadful. The only thing dreadful is the team and the manager.

Give us something to get behind the team and we'll back them to the hilt. But unfortunately, they have only on a couple of occasions produced anything worth getting behind all season: at home to Brighton, where we played very well, and maybe Fulham 2nd half. After that, I'm struggling... possibly Southampton 1st half. No wonder we moan.

As for Darren's assertion that homegrown players get grief, my take is they don't get any more than the other players. It might be just because they're not good enough, full stop.

Bill Watson
11 Posted 22/02/2019 at 12:22:00
I agree with much of what you say, Darren, but it's not a phenomenon confined to Everton.

I can recall the very talented Jimmy Melia being hounded out of Liverpool and the huge amount of stick received by the likes of Carragher (in his earlier years), Case and Murphy.

I hope the hugely promising Kenny doesn't get the same treatment but I'm not holding my breath.

Steve Ferns
12 Posted 22/02/2019 at 12:29:05
Darren spot on. I agree 100%.

The day Everton start turning out 11 players who have no link to the club, for game after game, like Chelsea do, is the day I'll stop caring about the club.

Tony Hibbert was the most underrated player I've ever seen. Sure, he had flaws, some absolutely astounding flaws, but his strengths were equally as good.

For me, he had a very particular skill set. As a purely defensive fullback, there was no one better. Sure Gary Neville was ten times the player Hibbo was, but if you are playing a team like Man Utd and you have Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo Aveiro running at you, you would rather it was Hibbo defending than Neville. No one skinned him very often. I always asked, Why don't England take him to the world cups?

Sure, Hibbo was no use when you play Algeria or someone poor like that, but invariably we would meet a side like Germany and we would have an offensive fullback, like Glenn Johnson trying to repel wave after wave of attacks, and for me, I thought you need player like Hibbo to come in for a match like that as his skillset fitted the job that was required better than Glenn Johnson. Of course, you'd go with Neville over Hibbo, as defensively he was on a level with Hibbo and offensively there was no contest, but I always thought England did miss a trick.

Jonjoe Kenny is nothing like Hibbert. I don't understand why he gets pigeon-holed as such. Kenny was England's best player when they won the u20 World Cup. Not in the final, but over the whole tournament. And no, not for defensive play, but for his offensive play.

Academy watchers will all tell you that Kenny is a great attacking fullback. He was lauded in the u20 world cup run because of his ability to get forwards and to make things happen. What he also brings is a bit of scouse swagger, and he never fails to get stuck in and fight for everything.

If you really think Kenny lacks attacking qualities, perhaps you might want to check the crossing stats for the Premier League as a whole. The best crosser of the ball, stats wise, for the whole League is our own Lucas Digne. Kenny is able to compete with him for crosses when you work out how many crosses they each put in per 90.

Kenny is also a lot faster than many give him credit for and for me, he needs a bit more confidence to relax enough to really start bombing down the flank. He hesitates a bit at times, instead of just going for it, and that hesitation costs him a yard. We have yet to see the best of Kenny in the first team.

Tom Davies will captain not only Everton but he will also captain England. I am sure of it. He will be a fantastic player. People need to stop focusing on the mistakes and realise here is the youngest player on the pitch, and he is the one trying to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and make things happen. He will get better and better. He will grab games by the scruff of the neck and completely change them. He's 20 years of age and often he is battling against top class internationals. He just needs experience.

Far too many slag off our young players, or they moan and the groan. Right now, the senior players look terrified of the groans that misplaced passes will bring.

One player that I will never forget is Steve Simonsen. Steve played for Tranmere Rovers at 17. He kept some record number of clean sheets. He was actually a super prospect when we signed him. Revisionists now reckon it was a dodgy deal because Simonsen was so crap. That's not the case, we paid about £1m of actual money for Simonsen but the fee could have risen to £3.5m had his career panned out in a more glorious way.

Simonsen had everything to make him a great keeper. He was playing just after Big Nev had left, and Paul Gerrard was in nets. He was bigger than both of them, and 6'-2" for a keeper in the late 90s was a decent size. He had a great spring, he commanded the box well. He had all the physical attributes he needed to succeed.

He got into the first team in around 2001, now aged around 21. Extremely young for a keeper. Paul Gerrard had been hopeless, and Simonsen paid the price for that. Everytime he went up for a corner, there was a collective intake of breath from the anxious crowd. So no boos, involuntary reactions, but the crowd started transferring negativity to Simonsen based on the errors that saw his predecessors dropped.

Simonsen made mistakes. He never recovered. A keeper relies on mental strength. Big Nev often says most of the keeper's game is in the head. Simonsen clearly did not have the mental side of the game. I wonder though, had he not had the anxiety of the crowd, and those intakes of breath, would he have been able to develop the mental side of the game and use the undoubted skills he had, bearing in mind the record number of clean sheets he had in the second flight at just 17 years of age?

These kids need every encouragement. Kenny, Davies, Calvert-Lewin and Holgate will do anything for us. They will run through brick walls for the club. They have talent, whether it is enough talent remains to be seen, but we need to nurture and cultivate it. We need to stop the negativity, the pressure on all the players is just too much at times.

Dave Abrahams
13 Posted 22/02/2019 at 12:47:34
Well said, Steve (12), you also might have added in defence of the young players coming into the team these last couple of seasons how piss-poor the sides have been. Instead of being guided and helped by the senior players they have left to struggle and get through on their own. This might strengthen them in the future, but they have it far from easy and still showing they are good Premier League players of the future.
Trevor Peers
14 Posted 22/02/2019 at 12:49:33
I've only watched the blues live at home once in the last 2 seasons. The entertainment value is so poor I've given up paying it's very poor value for money IMO, that was against West Ham. The main target for abuse in that game were the back four and Schniederlin who got roasted every time he touched the ball. So I have no idea if our youngsters are the subject of constant abuse they certainly weren't in the West ham game. I watch every game on TV and can't say I've noticed the abuse, maybe it's blocked out.

What I would say is we haven't produced a great deal of home grown talent that has been outstanding and I'm struggling to think of 1 youngster who we have let go, over the last 20 years, Rooney excluded, that has come good. We bought Stones so he doesn't count. Barkley is struggling at Chelsea, he was awful last night but managed to score near the end, good luck to him he's earning a fortune under false pretences.

Paul Cherrington
15 Posted 22/02/2019 at 12:51:09
Hibbo and Ossie were both fantastic players that never got the credit they deserved when playing. People used to slaughter them every time we didn't win as if it was all their own personal doing. Only now do we see how good they were when comparing them to the current team.

I think that we need more local and British players in the side. As others have said, that is where you get the passion and desire from.

The problem we have now is too many average foreign players filling the squad and being happy to simply pick their wages up, win or lose. Players like Davies, Holgate and Kenny should be given time to develop and play as they are our real future. Yes, sign some quality foreign players if you need too around them but make the spine of the team British. Let's give our youngsters a real chance to make their mark and progress!

Matthew Williams
16 Posted 22/02/2019 at 13:01:09
So true, Darren, it's our senior pros who have let us down and given very little support to our youngsters who have struggled in a shambles of a team.
Daniel A Johnson
17 Posted 22/02/2019 at 13:11:24
I agree and disagree Darren.

Of course youngsters should be shielded as much as possible to protect them.

But this is the cut and thrust of the Premier League; if you start you are perceived as being good enough. So if you then don't consistently perform then we as fans have the right to vent our anger.

Ultimately where do you draw the line? At what age and stage does potential become unfulfilled?

For me Dominic Calvert Lewin is championship standard and that is MY OPINION and I'm entitled to it. For years we've been saying he's only a young lad blah blah... yet when he takes the field he consistently fails to deliver.

As a club if we are aiming high then we simply can't allow a third of our team to be full of youngsters playing badly while we hang our hopes on that somehow these youngsters will suddenly become the next best thing.

This is ToffeeWeb Darren a website where we discuss Everton FC and people are entitled to their own opinion. You will generally find that if any player is being slated on here its because they are playing poorly and if that's the case it doesn't matter if the said player is 17 or 35.

Steve Ferns
18 Posted 22/02/2019 at 13:26:07
Daniel. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. I know some Blues will give the players what for on here, but yet, inside the ground they will support all of the players 100%. There's nothing wrong with that at all. I would rather someone unload their negativity on ToffeeWeb and then take their positivity to the match.

As for Trevor's comments, no Trevor, I don't think there is much "abuse". If by abuse we mean people yelling and screaming at the young players. What I see though is moans and groans. Davies might do three good things, and then he suddenly misplaces a pass and then lots of people groan as one. That has to be hard for a player to take.

I'm sure we have all experienced a time when you are working closely with someone and then they start moaning and groaning. It's hard to do what you are doing if the person is being difficult, especially if the task is difficult and you have to concentrate.

Is what Davies is doing that dissimilar to the example? Only he's got thousands groaning at him, and a handful shouting things like "How can you be captain when you can't even pass the ball?" (you know who you are). So no, Trevor, not abuse as such.

Daniel A Johnson
19 Posted 22/02/2019 at 13:44:11
I agree, Steve [18], but mindlessly cheering on Dominic Calvert-Lewin for the next 4 years won't make him a prolific premiership striker.

If a youngster takes the pitch he 100% needs supporting but, after 30-40 matches, if they don't cut the mustard, then we as fans have the right to vent.

Kevin Prytherch
20 Posted 22/02/2019 at 13:46:23
Brian Williams - you don't think the youngsters get it any worse??

Read some of the live forums - the first people to get slated for any poor performance are the youngsters. People like Sigurdsson (until recently), Digne, Gomes, Gueye, Zouma and Bernard escape the majority of the criticism, despite all being regulars in a side that performs poorly. The first scapegoat is nearly always Davies, Calvert-Lewin or, until recently, Kenny. Constantly running the same comments of ‘Championship standard at best'.

None of these listed have ever been described as ‘Championship at best', despite performing much worse at times and playing consistently in a failing team.

Jamie Crowley
21 Posted 22/02/2019 at 13:46:24
Darren -

I've been vexed by this dynamic since day one.

We eat our own young. It sickens me to the core to be honest.

For such seemingly wonderful people Evertonians are, it mystifies me how they can tear their very own kids coming through the ranks to shreds.

In America, 9 times out of 10 if a local boy makes it to the Big Time, the crowd loves him. And I mean loves him.

Over there? I don't get it. Never have, never will.

It's happening to Davies right now. Pisses me off to be honest.

Steve Ferns
22 Posted 22/02/2019 at 13:46:37
To vent where Daniel? At the ground? When he's on the ball? Or just on here?

Daniel, do you rate Harry Kane? If so, what are his qualities? What makes him the undoubted best English striker? What's led him to lead the scoring charts so often?

John G Davies
23 Posted 22/02/2019 at 13:49:30
Steve Ferns,

Spot on. Have a moan and groan in here, debate and discuss the merits of players all day and night. But never at the game.

Steve Brown
24 Posted 22/02/2019 at 13:51:18
Agree 100% Darren, the constant criticism of young players is unacceptable. It is also counter-productive and I can't fathom how anyone thinks it will improve the player or their performance.

However, if we have a mediocre journeyman like Stracqualursi or Niasse running run around like a lunatic, he is greeted with a chuckle and an amused shrug. Go figure.

John G Davies
25 Posted 22/02/2019 at 13:52:05
Never, ever boo or slag a player off at the ground. It does no good whatsoever.

It's like a dozen people standing over a tradesman ripping the back off the work he is producing for 90 minutes. It won't make his work any better

Steve Carse
26 Posted 22/02/2019 at 13:53:11
The article repeats one of the great Goodison myths — that the fans are harder on youth team products. The most venomous voiced criticism in recent times has been that directed on purchased players, in paticular on Tim Howard and Schniederlin but on also the likes of Martina, Keane, Klassen, Williams, even Lukaku... the list goes on.

If there is this approach to our young players, could the author suggest when he detected the change in attitude, because I certainly don't remember Harvey, Labone, Wright, Hurst, Royle etc suffering from it in the 60s, nor Mountfield, Stevens, Ratcliffe etc more recently in the 80s.

It is certainly the case that football fans generally are now much more inclined to express their negative opinions and emotions on to underperforming players during games. But, to a large degree this has come about for the exact opposite reasons the author portrays — namely that the reluctance of managers to give younger, locally connected players a chance and bring in 'outsiders' (particularly overseas players) has created a disconnect between fans and players.

James Hughes
27 Posted 22/02/2019 at 14:59:13
Steve, when Ratcliffe played at left-back, he got a lot of abuse from the Gwladys Street end. The usual stuff — "Yard dog... Shite... you're fuckin shite... get off the pitch, you twat!"

Thankfully, when moved to centre-back, he got better and the abuse stopped.

Steve Carse
29 Posted 22/02/2019 at 15:28:23
James, you're right. Indeed I was going to leave Ratcliffe out of my list. He was awful though wasn't he, tending to drift into the middle a lot as if playing centre-back. Playing that badly, to reinforce my point, I don't think it would have mattered if he was local, signed from another club or came from another planet.
Brent Stephens
30 Posted 22/02/2019 at 16:07:05
I can't abide abuse from our fans at GP (or elsewhere) during the game against our own players - whether young or old, home-grown or bought (cheaply or expensively). It's all wrong in my view. If you must boo, leave it till the final whistle (though I still wouldn't do it then).

Abuse on sport social media, during or after the game, is largely irrelevant as I suspect few players read the likes of TW (especially during a game - but you never know!).

Michael Kenrick
31 Posted 22/02/2019 at 16:13:18
There's one phrase above that puts it in a nutshell:

He got better and the abuse stopped.

Generally, these local lads have simply not been good enough. Osman had talents but was a terrible disappointment in so many games. Hibbert had a great heart and was a trier, fantastic in the tackle, but he was just not quite as good as he needed to be. Personally, I think it could have been the increasingly hopeless Moyes who was at fault in not getting the best out of them.

Stones is the complete exception and he was not a local lad. His treatment by those who put other nonsense above his obviously brilliant and prodigious talent was shameful and embarrassing. I think a few scouse smart-arses had it in for him after that audacious "Panenka-style" chipped penalty kick against Juventus at AT&T Park in San Francisco, our first real sight of his precocious talent. Not something that would endear him to the "head-down, work hard, run around a lot" faction of Everton supporters.

Barkley (when at Everton) and Davies now are similar cases: we all know they were/are capable of so, so, so much better... something odd with how they were/are being coached? All very puzzling.

Steve Ferns
32 Posted 22/02/2019 at 16:28:35
Or is it the weight of pressure and expectations at Everton. If they came through at Watford or Bournemouth and so had a lot less pressure on their shoulders, would they have been able to grow faster as players?
Dave Abrahams
33 Posted 22/02/2019 at 16:48:49
I might be wrong and doubt it has happened to a local lad but one of the worst incidents of abuse, to me, happened to Tom Cleverly when he was substituted a couple of years ago, when the substitution was announced large sections of the crowd cheered, not to show their support to the player but because he was being taken off, I thought it absolutely stunk and said so at the time.

Another player who never gave less than 100% got loads of abuse on here, but I stress not at the ground, that was Aaron Lennon, a player who showed a lot of the other players up by his fitness and willingness to work at both ends of the field, he never got the appreciation he deserved, and would have been still a more than useful help to the club, although I realise he got a good deal from Burnley which might have made his mind up in leaving.

Fran Mitchell
34 Posted 22/02/2019 at 17:14:52
We expect our young lads to come in, explode and be world class talents immediately.

The one that most highlights the situation forme is Kenny. Excellent for the u-23s and for England u-21s, people expected him to be the new Cafú. Kenny plays, and does a very commendable job without being anything exceptional.

Then Trent Alexander-Arnold bursts onto the scene at Liverpool.

All of a sudden Kenny is 'crap', 'not even championship standard' etc. Yet from what i've seen, it is a very solid and hard working right back, solid in the tackle, gets up and down the flanks. Needs to improve positioning, and possibly final ball (but our attacking play is so poor in general, I doubt he's had much in opportunity to practice his crossing). But crap, out of his depth etc, nit at all. I see a good player who could become a very good player.

But our fans want the lad from Crystal Palace because of one run and cross they saw on motd.

Look at the likes of Trippier or Kyle Walker, at 21 neither was ripping it up like Alexander-Arnold (who, admittedly, is a top talent). But both became excellent full backs, arguably the best in the league.

Danny Broderick
35 Posted 22/02/2019 at 17:23:10
It’s not just the local lads who get it. The whole team will get stick at some point, from Pickford to Calvert-Lewin or Tosun.

Is it acceptable to vent at the players or give them stick? To my mind, no. Unless a player is not trying, in which case they deserve everything they get, we shouldn’t be getting on the players backs for misplaced passes, telling players they are shite etc. It’s not going to help, is it?

Goodison has become a pressure cooker where there is less and less support and more and more stick. We badly need the balance to swing back to supporting the players.

Dermot Byrne
36 Posted 22/02/2019 at 17:27:00
Good point Darren.

Brian #9 I am inclined to agree. A fair history and some v good decades. And once a big club.

Now? Not really and this frustrates many. Reminds me of UK in Brexit talks and still thinking of WW1 and 2 and the empire.

Times move on.

Ray Roche
37 Posted 22/02/2019 at 18:20:55
Steve Carse @26

Steve, you may not remember Harvey, Wright, Royle etc getting stick from the crowd but I do. Royle in particular got abuse for having the temerity to replace fans favourite Alex Young, and even Young was also on the receiving end of abuse. Once Old Father Time got on their case their days as heroes were numbered.

Furthermore, Reid, although not homegrown, took loads too as his legs began to fail him as he got older.

Darren is right. We Do reserve the worst of our (collective) bile for the likes of Davies and it shames us all.

There is one myth being repeated constantly on ToffeeWeb and that is that Hibbo and Osman were "shite". For all his apparent shortcomings few wingers got much change out of Hibbert, he was first and foremost a defender. And a good one. Osman at his peak would walk into this present side. I made a light hearted comment on another recent thread that Hibbo and Osman still get stick and they've retired. Guess what .

Lev Vellene
38 Posted 22/02/2019 at 18:49:20
I realize the attending fans have an expectation about what the team can do in any game at Goodison, but when they get abusive about developing players not playing consistently like the ready-bought world stars other teams have brought in for big money, I grow despondent! Some of the Everton Greats from the mid-80's sucked early on!

I know the game is all about money these days, but as even Man C are putting emphasis on their youth development, I wish our own fans could switch to watching our youngsters as being journeymen learning from their competition, while growing into their potential!

By all means, groan at a misplaced pass, that's natural and instinctive. But don't add abuse that make players afraid to try it again!

Daniel A Johnson
39 Posted 22/02/2019 at 19:41:02
Steve [32] pressure playing for Everton!!!! You are having a laugh mate Goodison Park and Finch Farm = easy street.
Martin Mason
40 Posted 22/02/2019 at 19:44:21
Darren, I couldn't agree more and it is the only thing that has really disappointed me as the years go by. It is incredibly difficult now to bridge the gap between academy and First team squad and the strength of first team squads is higher now because of expensive foreign players so somebody like Davies at 21 has to be better than a 28 year old £45 MM player to cross the bridge. Do we unequivocally help him do that? No some of us destroy him instead and one day he will leave as a result because everybody wants great English prospects like him, he is special. We must help these lads make the grade or we lose them. Btw, I always thought that Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman were brilliant but not perfect. Surely we shouldn't destroy players because they aren't perfect?
Mike Gaynes
41 Posted 22/02/2019 at 19:49:09
You can tell this is a great article because of the responses -- thoughtful, reasoned, detailed. Some I agree with, some I don't, but this is a terrific thread.

My only real disagreement with what Darren has written is the implication that this is an Everton phenomenon. "Why can't we be like other clubs?" I think we are. Every club has fans that subject their players to ridicule. I don't believe we're any worse than anyone else. I read other fan sites from time to time, and TW is the best in terms of tone IMO.

Incidentally, breaking news that is off-topic but relevant: Everton and Watford have reached an amicable agreement regarding Silva. (And no, they have not agreed to take him back.)

Jay Wood

42 Posted 22/02/2019 at 21:03:33
Very terse statement on the club site on the settlement, Mike:

"Everton and Watford can confirm that they have reached an amicable agreement regarding the appointment of Marco Silva as Everton manager last year. Both Everton and Watford are keen to move on from this matter. No further comment will be made."


Hopefully, this will put to bed the fear expressed by some that we would face a points deduction and so be drawn into the sticky stuff of a relegation struggle.

Vinny Garstrokes
43 Posted 22/02/2019 at 21:09:31
4 million quid and a Deulofeu hat trick!!!!
Jay Wood

44 Posted 22/02/2019 at 21:13:08
Talking of young guns, whilst following up the story Mike Gaynes shared on the official club site about the settlement over Silva, I watched the short highlights of the U-18s 3-2 loss to Widnes in the Senior Cup, after going 3-0 behind.

Well worth a watch for our second goal alone. We are defending as tight as can be deep in our right hand corner. They played the ball out very calmly up to the half way line, but what you should look out for is one helluva pass for the eventual goal scorer to run through and score.

Anybody able to identify the maker of that pass?

It's a beaut.

Watch the highlights here:


Andy Crooks
45 Posted 22/02/2019 at 21:16:06
Good point Mike. This is a top article but it happens at most clubs and I witnessed it at both Celtic and Rangers. It is interesting that there is a lot of consent on this thread. Either no one wants to be seen as harsh on young players or, perhaps, Darren, many of this comments are live forum( which I never visit) or post match heat of the moment stuff. I may be wrong but I haven't seen any cool headed denigration of our young players on this site.
Lambasting players at the match is pointless, destructive and toe curling to witness, but it happens. I certainly think that the notion you pay your money and are entitled to moan is debatable. We are supporters so what does that mean?
To me, it is of course financial and of course cheering the team on. It is also about being tolerant, about allowing mistakes and applauding a trier. Those who don't try deserve all the abuse in the world but I have rarely seen it.
I have a good friend who supports, really and truly supports, a local club who will likely be relegated. He has not a negative thing to say about them because, in his words, they come off after a defeat drenched in sweat. They lost because they were not good enough. Our young players give their all. That will do for me. The coach can decide if they are good enough.
Tony Hill
46 Posted 22/02/2019 at 21:20:28
I can't immediately think of a young player who, because he was barracked and obviously for that reason, failed to live up to his promise, whether at Everton or elsewhere. Nor can I think of a player who succeeded, where he would otherwise have failed, because he was resolutely supported.

These things may not be measurable but I suspect that the talented (both mentally and physically) will succeed regardless while the physically talented but mentally fragile will likely fail. All regardless of the surrounding abuse or songs of praise.

More generally, I always think the best supported home club is Crystal Palace but it never seems to make much difference.

Tony Hill
47 Posted 22/02/2019 at 21:28:16
It's also true, I think, that those with modest physical talent but considerable mental strength have a serious chance of success. Again, though, I doubt that has anything to do with the crowd.
Mike Gaynes
48 Posted 22/02/2019 at 21:56:06
Jay #44, no way to pick out who made that pass. The video looks like it was shot by a player's mom. Ridiculously wide view. Thanks, EFC. Next time send somebody who can actually handle the equipment.

Andy #45, come to think of it, most of the worst comments I see are on the Forum, not the regular board. Which is OK, we all vent there. Great point in your last paragraph.

Steve Ferns
49 Posted 22/02/2019 at 22:09:33
Jay it was Tom Warren.

Tom Warren Profile

Chris Gould
50 Posted 22/02/2019 at 22:12:28
I think the club have to decide if we're a club that nurture and develop young talent, or a club that genuinely wants to break into the top 4 (3 year plan?).
I don't believe we can be both.

The youngsters will always make mistakes and be inconsistent. Many fans don't have the patience to watch them develop, they want the very best players available to us, and they want them to take us to the top 4 (don't we all?)
If we're a club intent on developing youth in the first team, then I think it's important that the club come out and say that this is who we are and dampen our expectations.
They say that they want Champions League, then they say that we have a commitment to youth?

The Premier League is too tough for most youngsters. Even Kane had multiple loans before settling into Spurs' first team.
Some of our youngsters may become very good players, but it's highly unlikely that Davies, Kenny, DCL, and Lookman will all be our future. It makes sense to loan the youngsters in order for them to mature and develop away from the spotlight. Allow them to be inconsistent and make mistakes elsewhere. We will know if DCL is going to become a prolific striker in the Premier League by the time he's 23/24. We could be protecting him by allowing him to develop in the Bundesliga? It's a slower but decent league, and he'll be under less pressure and scrutiny.

Darren highlights the reason that we persevere with the youngsters before they're ready. Money.
We spent recklessly and are now in a difficult financial position. The youngsters are helping us out and deserve our full support. They don't pick themselves.

I think the club should come out and state that we have a commitment to youth and want them to develop in the first team. Ask us to be patient with the youngsters and explain that we will benefit in the long run. I know Brands made comments to this effect, but he never really addressed the fans. I think it would help if he said that he understands our concerns, but that this is the route that the club wish to go, and that we need the support. A rallying message.

There are too many mixed messages coming from the club. Fans buy into the '3 year plan' but then hear 'commitment to youth'.

The truth is, we had a 3 year plan. We spent recklessly and fucked it up. We're now skint, and the kids are helping us out (better to spin it and call it a 'commitment to youth'). We should support them vociferously, and who knows, one or two of them may become very good players.

Steve Ferns
51 Posted 22/02/2019 at 22:40:35
Tony, I think you're wrong.

I gave an example above of Steve Simonsen. Ok, he was never going to be better than Big Nev, but he should have had a good career. I supposed he did have a half decent career playing for us and Stoke in the Premier League, a load of games in the Championship, and he played for Rangers on their way back through the leagues.

In a parallel universe, where Simonsen was able to develop his mental skills slowly, perhaps as a backup to Nigel Martyn, rather than replacing the failing Thomas Myhre and Paul Gerrard. Perhaps, Steve would have been able to take that amazing form as a teenager and build upon it. He kept SEVEN consecutive clean sheets for Tranmere Rovers in the Second Flight. It was then called Division One, but it was the second level of English Football. Tranmere hardly had a defence where he was sat in a deckchair for 7 games, he played extremely well after being thrust into the side after injury to the first choice keeper (I forget whether it was Nixon or Achteburg, but it might even have been both). Simonsen handled the pressure at that age, he had the physicality to be a top keeper, he had good reach, he had good spring, and he was agile.

For me, it all went wrong because the crowd had watched Myhre and Gerrard make mistakes and so were suffering from anxiety. It was impossible for anyone to follow Southall, and the crowd couldn't get used to it. Myhre did well for a bit then his form went off a cliff. Gerrard was never good enough. Simonsen should have been good enough, but at the age of 21, he was not ready for the Goodison pressure cooker, and the fact that he was never as good again as he was at 18 tells me that he was a player destroyed by the pressure.

Now you could say, as Tony does, that he was never going to be good enough. Perhaps that is right. Perhaps Simonsen was always too fragile. If so, how did he do so well at 18?

I think certain players can come in, do well, gain confidence and their careers just take off, far more than anyone thought they would. Because, with a bit of luck, and things going as they dreamed it, they are able to get better and better and drag themselves to the next level. I think Harry Kane is one of them. I do not believe that Kane, if he had had a dreadful start to his Spurs career, would have reached the heights he has now.

The difference between many players at the top level is negligible. Confidence plays such a big part, and if a young player gains confidence and keeps performing and keeps gaining more and more confidence, then their career can just take off. They can develop that mental strength.

Another example, Danny Cadamateri. Ok, correct me if I'm wrong because I am going completely off 20 year old memories here. Cadamateri supposedly made cut after cut by the skin of his teeth. (cut being when the kids are released at the end of the season for not being good enough). I forget the name of the Everton Youth Development officer who was telling the story, but I think it was Ray Hall. He was telling it at the height of Cadamateri's career. He was saying how our coaches had marked him to be cut so many times and Danny had kept squeezing through. He made the final squad for the u18s, and the coaches never believed he would ever play for the first team. But lo and behold, he had a good run of form, just as the first team is having a bad run of form and injuries and he got an opportunity to play. He then scores "that goal" and for the next two seasons he looks a Premier League player, a real prospect, with pace and touch. Then form deserted him and he tumbled down the leagues going from club to club and retired never scoring more goals than he did in that first season.

Is it not possible that Cadamateri was a player who was not quite good enough, but got an opportunity, had some luck, grew substantially in confidence and then in ability and so was able to really kick on, before losing that confidence (perhaps with all his off-the-field problems) and then lost all that ability he appeared to have?

I truly believe that Calvert-Lewin can grow into a superstar, a proper superstar, that this lad has everything. He's fast, tall, great in the air, has flicks and tricks, a good shot, he's smart, makes good runs, he has everything. Yet he just hasn't scored enough for most people. If he started scoring tap-ins, and got that particular monkey off his back (as he surely knows it) and concentrated on developing his game and lost that air of desperation he seems to have, and started scoring goals, then I think the composure he needs in the box will come. Composure is a skill confident strikers all have, and a skill all strikers who have lost their confidence lack.

I don't think it's as simple as quality shines through. You need a lot of luck, nurturing and support.

Steve Ferns
52 Posted 22/02/2019 at 22:54:16
Chris, the 3-year plan was for Koeman. Silva is not here on a 3-year plan. Brands told you the remit, and that's to identify and develop good young players and to have steady progression. There's no x-year plan this time.

The club are not in a difficult financial position, not whilst Moshiri is keen. What we need to accept is that we cannot spend mega money and build a stadium. See Arsenal and Spurs for examples of wealthier clubs with wealthier owners who could not afford to spend whilst building their stadiums.

Moshiri and Brands have told us the financial problem right now. The wage bill is too high. That's not too high so we're in financial trouble, it's that it is too high and Moshiri wants it reduced.

The club have said the money is there. Didn't Alan Myers or someone like that say that the club would spend very big to sign the right player, ie, if Messi was available and wanted to come to Everton, we would spend the £120M and pay him £300k a week? We could do it, but it's FFP and long term issues that are making us be a bit more frugal from now on.

I expect Brands to spend big this summer, I expect him to sign two expensive players, firstly the much demanded striker, and secondly the much needed holding midfielder. There will be a continued effort to get rid of the deadwood, but expect few first-team signings and the ones who come in to be top dollar.

Tony Hill
53 Posted 22/02/2019 at 22:58:46
Steve @53, luck I most certainly agree with as an essential factor not only in sport but in life, of course. Though luck is just the operation of circumstance and I'm not sure of the margin within which it turns people's careers/futures significantly, when set against mental/physical qualities (save in obvious cases) – although, of course, the possession of such qualities, or lack of it, is a type of luck.

I would like to agree with you that nurturing and support make a meaningful difference at the top level of sport, but I think not.

There's a decent book on luck by Ed Smith, now the Chairman of England cricket selectors, which we've mentioned on here before. Worth a read if you don't know it.

Steve Ferns
54 Posted 22/02/2019 at 23:07:13
Thanks, Tony, I will look out for it.

Luck gives players opportunities. It gives them development. It means a player can be in the first team squad and playing matches instead of in the U23s. By playing in the first team, a player will get better, much better.

Listen to former players talk about where it went wrong; there is often a hair between a player who makes it and one who doesn't. Then the one who makes it carves out a top-level career and the other falls down the leagues and ends up playing leagues below a player who was slightly better than him...

Because he got the opportunity, the development, the support, the confidence and the nurturing, whereas the other guy, had a hammer blow to his confidence, got tossed on the scrap heap and never got the same level of opportunity, development, support or nurturing.

Chris Gould
55 Posted 22/02/2019 at 23:20:40
Steve, I think the 3-year plan was Moshiri's for the club as opposed to Koeman's, although obviously Koeman was supposed to be a big part of it. I was referring to this 3-year plan, not suggesting Silva has one.

The point I was trying to make is that we were led to believe that under Moshiri we were gunning for top 4, but that has now changed to a commitment to youth. When I mentioned our difficult financial position, I was referring to the wage bill.
The reckless spending has set us back and is the reason we now rely on the kids. We won't spend big until we offload several players, and rightly so.

Do you really believe that Davies will captain England and that Calvert-Lewin can become a superstar, a proper superstar!

You will get very very long odds for that. I don't share your optimism but it's a nice dream.

Tony Hill
56 Posted 22/02/2019 at 23:23:06
Steve, arguing against myself, I suppose you should look at the top (really top) managers on nurturing and support. Shankly would be my marker, I am afraid, and also Ferguson.

They changed and moulded players, and very much including young players, turned some of them into gold by force of will and acute psychology and had the same effect upon their teams as we all know. I wonder what distinctions might be drawn between individuals and teams in this context?

I met Shankly a couple of times; he had a remarkable grace and humility born of self-possession and confidence. Though I hated him, naturally.

Steve Ferns
57 Posted 22/02/2019 at 23:28:08
The 3-year plan has gone out the window, Chris. Koeman was meant to be able to just assemble a team of 27-year-olds and challenge the top 4.

He sold himself as capable of doing this based on how his Southampton side kept getting ripped apart (mainly through the RS taking their best players) and yet Koeman kept them in position with some astute signings (made by Les Reed, not Koeman).

Brands is a long term vision man, and whether Silva works alongside him (not under him as so many, very wrongly, believe) or not, this long term strategy will now be pursued.

As for Davies and Calvert-Lewin, yes, I do. I do accept I am more optimistic about these things than most Evertonians, and I have more faith in Davies than Calvert-Lewin.

Steve Ferns
58 Posted 22/02/2019 at 23:30:24
Modern players are very different people, Tony, as are modern managers. Life is so more complicated now.
Tony Hill
59 Posted 22/02/2019 at 23:37:39
Steve, take it from me: life has always been complicated. Football, maybe not so much.
Chris Gould
60 Posted 22/02/2019 at 23:40:44
I think that is part of the problem, Steve. Moshiri's 3-year plan and extravagant spending led many fans to dare to dream. There was optimism and belief. Then it all quickly went downhill, and suddenly we have to settle for a team in transition with a commitment to youth.

It's hard for many long-suffering fans to stomach. I think many are confused by the direction the club is taking.

Steve Ferns
61 Posted 22/02/2019 at 23:48:37
It's the hope that kills you.

There's no shortcuts. Man City showed that. We need clever management from Brands with a long-term strategy and to use our owner's wealth on astute signings, meantime combining this with a top-class coach, whether Silva or not.

It's important we stop lurching from one extreme to another, Martinez to Koeman to Allardyce to Silva. If Silva goes, then we get someone in who is what Silva was meant to be, not a defensive manager to fix the defence and go from there.

Roman Sidey
62 Posted 23/02/2019 at 00:59:01
Steve: "He's fast, tall, great in the air, has flicks and tricks, a good shot, he's smart, makes good runs, he has everything." I've watched nearly every match Calvert-Lewin has been involved in and I haven't seen a lot of evidence of any of that.

As for the overall point, I don't attend matches because I don't live in the UK, but I've never been one to boo and jeer players at any match; even the opposition. It's been said, though, that places like ToffeeWeb are where you can vent your frustration and not have it affect the players.

In terms of the "local lads et al" being targeted, here's my thoughts on the players being mentioned:

Osman – a fantastic servant to the club with serious talent. I think the main reason he copped so much stick was because he (mostly) had a pretty weak shot but because he occasionally (1-2 times per season) hit a screamer; he took a lot of shots that barely moved. I miss him. However, for people saying he could have played in the top teams, why didn't he?

Hibbert – a dreadful footballer. I started supporting the club around the same time Hibbo broke into the team, and I never understood how he kept his place. For me, the relationship between Moyes and Hibbo was summed up when Moyes said "as long as I'm manager, Hibbo has a job for life." Firstly, that's a ridiculous statement in professional sport, and secondly, if he's so good, that type of statement doesn't need saying.

Stones – He was class. The odd mistake but that would have been ironed out under a decent manager.

Rodwell – Meh. He wasn't awful, and people say he should have played central defense, but we'd never seen him play there at senior level, and otherwise, he really didn't have a position he made his own.

Barkley – Enough's been said on here about him. I'm not repeating it again. I liked him, but understood why some people got frustrated.

Davies – I rate him, but the coaches at Everton aren't good enough to develop him. This is actually my opinion of why the club is struggling so badly the past few years. I've said it before – the coaches just aren't good enough.

Calvert-Lewin– I just don't see him cutting it, but when he scores I am bloody stoked.

Dave Bowen
63 Posted 23/02/2019 at 01:50:33
I think every club in the land slates the local or homegrown players more than other players. It's not an Everton thing. As for the players mentioned:-

Hibbert – a great defensive right-back but awful going forward. Every player is entitled to have a mare now and again; sadly, Hibbo had his in the 2009 FA Cup Final, but the team as a whole missed the injured Jagielka & Arteta badly.

Osman – great little player who sadly lacked the physicality to be among the very best. Often played out of position on the right of midfield when his natural position was in the centre.

Rodwell – good player, but nobody knew what his best position was. Too injury prone. Gone backwards since leaving.

Stones – to be honest, I could never see what the fuss was about. I was wrong.

Barkley – very talented player but always seemed to make the wrong decision. Badly advised.

Davies – seems to be coming back to his best. Had a lot to live up to after ‘that' goal. Jury still out.

Calvert-Lewin – Deserves all the criticism he gets. 2nd to every ball. Powderpuff on the deck. Championship level at best.

Kase Chow
64 Posted 23/02/2019 at 02:03:25
Chaps, sorry to say but the truth of it is that we aren't great fans. Simple

We're great when we're 2-0 up. But isn't that fairly easy?

Look at Gary Lineker – suffered awful abuse first 10-15 games because he replaced Andy Gray. Unbelievable!

Look at Dave Watson – this guy is an Everton legend. But how much did he suffer because he replaced Derek Mountfield?

Honestly, you only have to read some of the stuff on here ("Lukaku was rubbish..." erm, he scored a ton of goals whilst he was here; "Richarlson, sell him..." erm, he's 21 and our top goal scorer).

It literally never ends. I'll possibly be slagged off on here for being honest and saying that, as fans, we're not too great... but it's the truth. Homegrown or not, we don't ‘support' the team when they're struggling.

Darren Hind
65 Posted 23/02/2019 at 06:37:28
I thought I'd completely thought this one through – I'd been thinking of writing it for weeks but, as ever on this forum, a whole bunch of stuff comes back that simply hadn't occurred.

I wish I had made my point a little clearer. Whilst I fully concur with Ray #37 (I've even heard Big Joe talk about it), I was trying to make a slightly different point.

This piece is not about young scousers only. It's about every youngster attempting to make the enormous leap from the junior Everton ranks to the dog-eat-dog world of the Premier League.

I constantly hear people claim we do not produce anybody at Finch Farm... but is that true? We produce more than most; our record of promoting from within would stand up against any of the top sides. In many ways, we've kinda had to. The chances are, we will have three players on the field against Cardiff, all of whom have been introduced to the Premier League by us, Everton FC.

The upside of producing your own players is obvious: by producing three of our own, we could be saving anything north of £50M in wages and transfer fees. If they turn out to be decent, that figure could easily double. These kids are quite literally worth their weight in gold.

Of course, there is always a downside. Some of the world's greatest players have not been able to cut it in the Premier League. It's different: even the ones who manged to sparkle, struggle to do so consistently. It's an enormous ask.

So why do we hammer Calvert-Lewin for failing to bag a load of goals? There are hundreds of million pounds worth of experienced strikers failing to do that. Many of them have failed so badly, they can't even get on the bench. People like Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright, Jamie Vardy hadn't even broken into the big time at his age. How on earth can people write the guy off already? He's 21 FFS...

And why are we so hateful towards young Tom Davies? Yes, he struggles for consistency and he can be over-ran, but I watched a world class player (Hazzard) recently stagger from the Etihad pitch looking like he'd spend three days on the waltzers. It happens to even the best of them.

I just hope these guys can learn from Leon Osman. Leon was quite simply the bravest player I have ever seen. "He's powder puff"... "Little fucker has no pace"... "Not athletic enough"... Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get all that.

Ossie wasn't stupid. He knew, if he lost possession, his percentage-crazed Manager would want to kill him. He knew how much anger was going to cascade down from the stands if he lost it... but, in all the games he played, I never once saw him "help it on" or punt it aimlessly. His one-touch play was excellent but, if a pass wasn't on, he simply refused to play it. He always, always, always wanted to play football.

Top class? Nah, not quite... but no knucklehead in the stand screaming "Get rid of the fucking thing" was going to force him into being one of the Ginger Twat's robots.

They're not all as mentally strong as Ossie. We really do need to start cutting them some slack.

Kase Chow
66 Posted 23/02/2019 at 08:19:37
Darren #65,

Spot on mate.

Steve Brown
67 Posted 23/02/2019 at 08:48:22
He got better and the abuse stopped – so why was a young Kevin Ratcliffe at left back getting abuse anyway? To what possible purpose in terms of building his confidence or helping him develop his game?

The same could have been written about Steven, Sharp and Heath during their early days with Everton. We were lucky they overcame it, but that came with confidence and winning in a good side.

Calvert-Lewin, Davies and Kenny playing in a bad side with terrible senior pros whose attitude and standards are a disgrace. When a player is 21, it is unclear how their potential will develop. I think by 24-25 you have a real idea of a player's level.

The abuse also seems to concentrate on younger players who try to show skill or pass. I can't fathom why Calvert-Lewin gets stick but Niasse and Stracqualursi didn't. Can anyone explain that one?

Tony Hill
68 Posted 23/02/2019 at 08:58:29
Yes, Osman was a tough, intelligent player. When you look back at some of his goals, the finishing is excellent. I thought he played well also in his two international appearances though he got little or no credit.

An example of a player whose mental qualities allowed him to maximise his technical skills.

Tony Abrahams
69 Posted 23/02/2019 at 09:33:11
I think maybe Frank Lampard, would be the best example, of a player leaving his boyhood club, were he was not really rated for whatever reason, Tony @46?

I tend to talk about contradictions because these young players can get slaughtered off the crowd yet Kenwright is seen as a saviour by many Evertonians,

Paul Tran
70 Posted 23/02/2019 at 10:46:43
Partially agree with you, Darren. We were never going to improve quuck enough to keep Stones, though you're right that he got unnecessary stick for being a footballer. One of the legacies of the Moyes era was energy, effort and looking 'busy' at the expense of general skill & creativity, which inevitably led to a talented centre-back getting stick for the 'fancy stuff'.

In the last three years, it's been the younger players working their socks off, moving the team up the pitch and showing a bit of fight. When they show an inevitable dip in form, they look to leadership from the expensive 'senior' players and don't get anything from the hiders. These young players try to make things happen and are scuppered by lack of movement, purpose and poor organisation. If you're Calvert-Lewin or Davies, who do you look to for guidance? The one person who could give that assurance, Barry, was the one we let go. The kind of model pro that should have been kept and gone straight on the coaching staff. We don't want that, do we? We want 'legends' like Ferguson, who can teach players how to drink, get injured and steal a living.

Last season, I was listening to Radio 5, Chris Sutton stated that Koeman would have been better off keeping our money in his pocket, playing the youngsters and 'sacrificing' (finishing mid-table) the season to develop them, stabilise the club, then blend in some careful additions. I rarely agree with Sutton, but he was spot-on there. He could've said the same for this season as well.

The club needs to regain some identity. In the absence of a charismatic manager, it's going to come from young talent with an affinity with the club that rubs off on new arrivals. We won't achieve that with the current revolving-door recruitment policy.

Easy for me to say as a mainly armchair fan the past 15 years, but I think at home games, there's little or no atmosphere, too many people seem desperate to moan & criticise and everyone is waiting for something to cheer about. The club gives little leadership on and off the pitch; surely the fans can take a lead in producing some atmosphere?

Karen Mason
71 Posted 23/02/2019 at 11:01:56
Good article, Darren. I do think that the negativity is often displayed towards mature players too. But youngsters may be more affected by it.

Let's face it, NO team or player is better for having their confidence stripped away. When a player or team lack confidence, maybe the coaches or manager can make a small difference to rebuilding confidence.

However, the REAL power to inject a team or player with confidence lies with us, the supporters. And, without confidence, nobody improves or is the best that they can be.

So, for me, if we want to see our team improve this season, lack of confidence is the enemy. We, the fans at the ground, have a HUGE part to play in that.

Tony Hill
72 Posted 23/02/2019 at 11:53:47
Yes, Tony @69, I think that's a fair point. Another feller with a tough mind, Frank is.
Robert Workman
73 Posted 23/02/2019 at 19:14:46
With reference to Barkley and crowd reaction. I noticed that every time he made a mistake the other night against Man Utd, there was an audible groan from the crowd. I didn't hear that sound made against other players. So it sounds like it is not going well for him there.
Rick Tarleton
74 Posted 23/02/2019 at 21:13:22
Derek Temple got very similar treatment from the Goodison faithful when he first broke through in the late fifties. I think the treatment of Barkley, Davies etc has been appalling yet, week after week, Sigurdsson and Richarlison get away with mediocre displays.
Roman Sidey
75 Posted 24/02/2019 at 02:18:08
Darren, as I was reading your follow-up post, a name that stuck out to me to fit one of your descriptions was Shevchenko. An absolute superstar of a striker, and arguably one of the best in the world at the time, moved to Chelsea and shot blanks for a couple of seasons.

I may be talking out of turn, but I think a lot of the shit that Calvert-Lewin gets is not meant to be aimed at him, as much as the manager selecting him and the coaches not coaching him. That's the case when I get negative about him. It may not come out that way, but that is who I'm frustrated at when it happens.

When he first arrived, I thought he was the one young player that would go the furthest of that crop. I just don't think he was or is ready to be a starter so quickly – although at the moment, Everton don't really have a starting striker, per se.

Basically, what I'm saying is, as much shit as I, or others, give him, I'm sure none of us want him to be a failure, but feel that he isn't progressing at the rate we need him to.

James Flynn
76 Posted 24/02/2019 at 02:26:25
The report on the official site has this on the U-18's second goal:

"Everton scored again with six minutes remaining when Stanley ran onto to a beautifully weighted forward pass from Hughes [Rhys] to round the keeper and thump the ball into the net."

Ray Roche
77 Posted 24/02/2019 at 17:09:11
Roman @75,

I seem to recall that Shevchenko arrived because Abramovich wanted him and was bought whether the incumbent manager wanted him or not.

As for Calvert-Lewin, I would like to see how he would perform if he had a Dave Thomas type winger playing, a winger who could get to the byline and swing in a beautiful cross every time, just right for a tall forward to get on the end of.

We haven't played to his, or indeed, ANY forward's strengths for long enough.

Roman Sidey
78 Posted 24/02/2019 at 18:05:51
Ray, I was always positive he was a Abramovich signing. Totally not a Mourinho type forward.

And I agree that we haven't played to any of our striker's strengths for a long time. Louis Saha even said in the media while he was at Everton that he struggles as a lone striker. Didn't seem to strike a chord with the manager.

Peter Mills
79 Posted 24/02/2019 at 21:49:51
I hope that some consolation from this season will be the footballing ability and character development of the likes of Kenny, Davies and Calvert-Lewin.

They have done superbly in their age groups at club and international level, so they have what it takes. In the first team they have fought manfully and have never hidden. Of course they have struggled at times, but they have shown they can become very good players.

Andy Crooks
80 Posted 24/02/2019 at 22:07:13
Good post, Peter. They have been in a team bereft of confidence and they have shown enough.
David Hamilton
81 Posted 25/02/2019 at 08:24:46
Well said, Peter Mills
Martin Mason
82 Posted 25/02/2019 at 09:11:13
I read an article about how WBA fans are raving about Mason Holgate another who can get a hard time from us?
Simon Smith
83 Posted 26/02/2019 at 00:01:45
Article is spot on, some comments simply cement it.

Calvert-Lewin is 21.
Davies is 20.
Kenny is 21.
Lookman is 21.
Dowell is 20.
Holgate is 21.

Pretty much all written off by many Evertonians who want the finished article at the age of 21.

If you don't go straight to the top tier of that age bracket – for example, Rashford, Alli, Alexander-Arnold, and so on – but go off the next lot coming through, you would clearly see that the lads above will make our squad much stronger without a fee, allowing us to free up funds for other signings.

Look at it this way:

Solanke went for £19M, is he any better than Calvert-Lewin?
Demari Grey better than Lookman?
McTominey, Ward-Prowse (both a few years older btw) etc better than Davies?

Whether or not you think they are, anyone with half a brain can see there's not much in it; anyone can see that they're not out of place in their opposition company.

Many moaned about Barkley, Stones, and Lukaku, yet all of them play at a much higher level than we're at, regardless if they're first choice, they aren't out of place.

I myself have mates who say Calvert-Lewin and Kenny aren't Premier League level, but imo they will have a 10-year career within the Premier League whether it's with us or not, they won't all become Rooney, Lampard or Sterling, but they will have Premier League careers.

Don Alexander
84 Posted 27/02/2019 at 00:01:49
The fact is that from our two successful squads in my time (I was eight in 1963 so I can't say I recall too much of them) only the first, in 1970, had more than a few of "our own" in the first eleven.

The fact is that our boardroom since the late 80's has massively failed to deliver on our famous motto and this has had the effect of making all true fans somewhat desperate and quick to judge our young players.

The fact is that in the 21st century it's got way worse in the boardroom. Don't take it out on the kids, turn the venom on Kenwright.

Stan Schofield
85 Posted 01/03/2019 at 23:18:02
Darren, spot on. It's done my head in since I was about 15, around the time Jimmy Husband was getting stick. I remember standing in the Gwladys Street End in the early '70s, and asking my dad why some people shout abuse at players, especially the younger ones, when they make simple mistakes or are on bad spells of form? My dad just said to me that some Evertonians are narks, it's as simple as that. I've thought he was right ever since.

By the way, Karen @71 is also spot on. I believe that match-going supporters should always offer encouragement rather than negativity, since nothing good ever comes of the latter, especially when the team as a whole is crap. I don't believe that having paid money to watch the game gives anyone a right to be negative, and that they actually have a responsibility, for the overall good, to control themselves better and be more supportive.

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