You Never Win Anything with Kids

by   |   19/04/2019  9 Comments  [Jump to last]

One of my weekly duties is to attend a meeting of the Council of Elders. Nobody else calls us that but, as Evertonians, we are naturally wiser than any of the kopites who venture into our hallowed committee rooms, otherwise known as our local pub, so we feel justified in appropriating a term that distinguishes us from the red riff-raff. We have to meet in the pub because it’s thirsty work talking about Everton and it’s amazing how, as a fairly homogenous demographic group, we can differ so much in our opinions.

For instance, a few weeks ago, the following subject came up: Should we just write this season off in terms of league position and instead take a good look at some of the youngsters in first-team action? Or should we leave the kids for another day and go all-out for as high a finish as possible, with a hint even of a Europa League place? Opinion was split down the middle. However, when we re-convened this week, opinion had shifted heavily in favour of “Let’s just play the kids.”

This change of opinion was led by a couple of Elders who’d been down to Fulham. The prevalent view was that it was one thing “to play your best team” and not bring in the young talent just yet... but quite another to be typically sentimental Everton and play a soon-to-be 37-year-old great servant ahead of a lad who has overcome much adversity to be one of our players of the season. Silva’s explanation seemed to be that Phil Jagielka had played well the previous week when drafted in at the last minute and so deserved selection on merit.

The switch in favour of ignoring our final Premier League placing and picking some of the promising young players at the club was motivated not only by a now collective desire to see new blood playing their heart out for Everton, but also by three other factors:

a) Unanimous agreement that we don’t actually deserve to qualify for Europe and that the Europa League would probably do more harm than good when you take into account the bigger picture;

b) Unanimous confusion as to why promising younger players, like Lookman and Kenny, have not been given more game time ahead of overrated or not-fully-fit players; and

c) Unanimous disappointment that Marco Silva will not be consistent in his stated policy of selecting those who deserve a place, based on the previous week’s performance; if he were, he’d have to select the entire U23 team in place of the shambolic first-team effort against Fulham.

At least then we’d get a chance to see the youngsters. Oh, and by the way... tell Ajax you never win anything with kids.

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Alan J Thompson
1 Posted 20/04/2019 at 17:34:32
George, both Brands and Silva have stated that the younger players are an important part of the future, they just haven't said if the future includes now and how we go about this when most seem to be out on loan. Obviously, the answer is it doesn't unless we include those who have played some games this season, Davies, Kenny & Lookman, but now seem to be benched at best.
Paul Tran
2 Posted 20/04/2019 at 18:17:09
That's interesting, Gerard. After we'd sacked Koeman and hired Allardyce, Chris Sutton was on Radio 5 talking about us. He threw in the idea that if Everton's youngsters were so good, why didn't we keep Unsworth as manager, play the kids and 'sacrifice' a season to build a team around them?

Millions of pounds later, hindsight (or foresight for some) tells us we'd probably be at least no worse off now had we done that.

It's often forgotten that United's kids were a particularly talented bunch, grafted onto a team full of hard-knocking pros that were already winning titles.

Under Koeman, in particular, it could be argued that Davies & DCL were over-exposed in a dysfunctional team because Ronald trusted them more than the players he'd inherited and bought.

I think we bought some good players last summer. Problem was, most of them were unfit/rusty/needed to acclimatise to English football. And only one of them scores goals.

So, for me, there was ample time to give some younger players a proper run, particularly Lookman, after we'd turned down good money for him. I also thought Kenny largely took his chance well, but would you pick him over Digne and a coming back to form Coleman?

In a perfect world, with a full pre-season behind them (Aand the addition of a goalscorer), Silva's team will be settled, will start the season well and he'll start to graft the kids onto that solid base.

The world's not always perfect, though. And would the people shouting for the young players promise not to slate them and condemn them as s**t after their first error?

Bill Griffiths
3 Posted 20/04/2019 at 18:49:51
Gerard, while I would like to see some of the youngsters given some exposure, I don't think it's wise to throw in too many at the same time.
Also I guess it's down to how many of the current starting eleven he is planning on featuring next season.
If Silva had a good idea that he doesn't want them here next season then he should give some of the youngsters some exposure rather than players who are unlikely to be here next season.
Look forward to seeing you at the Excelsior tomorrow.
Mike Allison
4 Posted 21/04/2019 at 17:24:01
Qualify for the Europa League then you’ve got far more game time to give to the youngsters next season. Being in that competition should be a good thing, you just need to learn to use the squad properly. You can start completely different XI’s on the Thursday and the Sunday. If you get knocked out of the Europa League because you played a weaker team, then you’re only in the position you’d have been in if you didn’t qualify, except your players have also gained some experience.
Paul Birmingham
5 Posted 22/04/2019 at 00:05:07
Good points, and no easy answers. If Mola could, and if Davies would, and if JJK, will, we’d have a great team in the making.

Some how, in my view these lads have lost belief, or confidence, and it’s time now to become gladiators, in terms of focus, effort, extra training etc else, very soon, the wind will whisper the next stop, which will be a club on loan, or perhaps a club in the Championship.

These are good lads with great potential, but making them great, takes personal effort and dedication and proper professional mentoring by EFC, and themselves, to prove a point and worthy of a contract.

Unsy does have a skill, and the players he buys and nurtures through the ranks, over the last 5 years have done well.

But when you hear that at Bristol City, Liam Walsh, isn’t progressing, is it the player, the change of City, or a complex combo, of many matters?

To acheive what MB wants and EFC, strives for, then may be get some of the old Ajax team circa 1969-1973, to show how to believe and excel., for a day or two at FF.

MB would hopefully have some connections, and protocol can be followed..

They at the time were and still are the Team, for my life time, followed by the great Bayern team, that followed Ajax, as a Europe’s best, and in more recent years, Barcelona, in terms of playing pure football.

In my time, all have their views, but that’s my earliest memories that stuck, with European football.

And the biggest dissapointment is that events unfolded in 1985, for which, we’ve never, recovered, in my view. That would have been an era, of incredible hope for EFC.

But that’s a long time ago, time goes fast, but time and good management makes clubs, and successful teams, with the right managers etc.

Now for Europa dreams, and good Euro away days. But must win at a Palace and must play well.

It’s a massive game to measure our consistency?

David Ellis
6 Posted 24/04/2019 at 11:13:26
It's important that we get into the Europa League - it will allow us to give game time to the kids and help attract and retain top players.

I'd let Jags go over the summer and have Holgate be the 4th CB. Not so sure about Leighton...probably keep him another year until Robinson is ready to be the back up to Digne.

Kids need to be drip-fed into a functioning team. The team is now functioning but we need the results to get into the Europa League...so I'd stay focused on that for now. But I'd give Lookman game time ahead of Walcott. I'm not sure that Davies is the future in midfield... in my view, he should become a defensive midfielder (he needs to learn discipline to do this... but that can be learned). He hasn't got the guile/skill to play further forward, and that's much harder to develop.

Lee Brownlie
7 Posted 27/04/2019 at 08:40:56
Now, I also have some real doubts as to whether we need, or should be wishing for, European football at this stage, and do see plenty of merit in not even worrying about that and playing more youngsters till the end of the season. But that's just not how Premier League clubs operate, is it?

Also... there's been some real – and I mean REAL!! – silliness posted on here, I'd have to say, re such as we should have 'thrown away' a season and put Unsworth and his kids in as our first team and coach, and somehow.. we wouldn't have been any worse off... wtf??? Well if you mean our team might have finished higher in the Championship than we likely have in the Premier League this season – once we'd been relegated!!! ... then... er, sorry... WHAT YOU ALL SAYING AGAIN????

No-one notice that Rhino didn't exactly 'seize' his chance managing the first team??? Yeah, he proved great with the kids – against other kids!! x and again, has done likewise... may even one day become the manager we'd all love him to, me included... but, just chuck them... and HIM, apparently... all in there??? Really???

All due respect, chaps... but 'Council of Elders' or all too regularly inebriated exponents of 'Roy of the Rovers' dreaming????

Alan J Thompson
8 Posted 29/04/2019 at 14:43:56
Mostly as an aside, I read that some Prem teams were showing an interest in a West Brom youngster (O'Dea) aged 20, plays central defence and is out on loan at Exeter while they get Holgate on loan from us. Funny old game,eh.
Derek Knox
9 Posted 05/05/2019 at 17:01:48
Some good and very valid points there Gerard, and I think we all agree that Marco Silva's reluctance to integrate any of the youngsters into the team when we were not even treading water in the Premier League, has been an opportunity missed.

Hypothetical, I know, but I don't think our points total would have been any worse, but very possibly better, had that 'gamble' been taken.

It will indeed be interesting to see what progress we will have made come next season, and equally so what happens in the Transfer Market with both outgoings and incomings.

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