What is the purpose of the Under-23s?

by   |   27/10/2021  121 Comments  [Jump to last]

I think the time is ripe to have an open, focused discussion on the purpose of the Under-23s. I've seen a few posts here and there across a number of topics where the Under-23s are brought up and no concensus is ever reached before the debate is buried under the traffic of the original posts.

For what it's worth, my opinion is the whole structure of Unsworth's sub-culture is a complete waste of time. Financially non-viable both in terms of progression to the first team and resale value. We buy players specifically for this squad who disappear completely without trace or flatter to deceive for a few games before succumbing to long-term injury or anonymity...

And let's not put perennial benchwarmers like Gbamin into these games to gain some fitness (match fitness and general fitness) for fear of them succumbing to another injury that would leave their bench seats vacant next Saturday or (heaven forbid!) expose them as too poor to play any part in a Premier League team.

My final (controversial?) thought on this: Unsworth is one of the worst examples of people stealing a living from this club. No accountability for his results, no pressure to play teams with a specific ethos or structure, and no incentive to improve the first team with player progression.

If you accept this last point but blame it on people higher up the chain, then don't forget Unsworth's complicity in all this and then question the integrity of someone happy to carry on pissing away the club's 'future' on a meaningless vanity project.

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Andrew Keatley
1 Posted 26/10/2021 at 13:43:55
Reagrding players coming through at other academuies, Emile Smith-Rowe looks more than just a good player, I'd say he's one of the brightest prospects in the British game. He's who Dean Smith identified as the player to replace Jack Grealish, only for Arsenal to reject offers of £30+ million.

The way he carries the ball, can shift between the gears, and his excellent vision makes me think he has the potential to put him right up the top of the international game.

Oh that we had an academy graduate with that level of skill and execution. And I wouldn't say he's ever really suffered a significant loss of form, but a few small injuries and the fact that Arsenal were going through a serious identity crisis occasionally kept him out of the team.

When England Under-17s won the World Cup in 2017, Smith-Rowe was in the squad. As was Phil Foden, Conor Gallagher, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jadon Sancho (although he was subsequently withdrawn by Dortmund to join their first team).

Everton's contingent in the squad was Lewis Gibson. Giving young players their spurs is one thing, but often it really just comes down to whether the player you have is a solid plodder, or whether you have a thoroughbred.

Smith-Rowe is a thoroughbred. The jury is still out on Anthony Gordon.

Ray Smith
2 Posted 26/10/2021 at 15:28:42
Does anybody know exactly why Small left Everton for Southampton?

We also released Cho last year and now it is rumoured Leicester are considering signing him for £35m!

What’s going on at FF?

Another youth product that got away!!!

Clive Rogers
3 Posted 26/10/2021 at 15:43:28
Ray, it was reported that he felt he was ready for the first team squad.
David Pearl
4 Posted 26/10/2021 at 15:45:32
Ray, maybe because the first team has been blocked because all the expensive or injured flops are in the way. So too are the u23s lot of lower league destined journeymen. Keeps coming back around to Brands for me and many others. I think we keep hold of way too many younger players for too long. Our academy hasn't been doing well for years. That's not to say that Small and Cho are definates to make that huge breakthrough.
Barry Hesketh
5 Posted 26/10/2021 at 15:56:28
According to TranferMarkt, Mohamed-Ali Cho was signed by Everton from PSG youth in 2015 and departed last year to SCO Angers where he has scored twice in eleven games for the French club. Until Ray mentioned him in his post, I'd never heard of the lad, but as Ray says Leicester is interested but may be put off by the price tag of circa £35m that the President of Angers is seeking.
Conor McCourt
6 Posted 26/10/2021 at 16:19:46
Andrew -

I generally agree with your assessment of the player and how he is developing under Arteta but this is a kid who only came into the team at well over 20 years of age (not a Foden or a Saka). "He is one of the brightest prospects in the British game", he most certainly is now.

Andrew guess who has more caps at under 18/19/20 level between Arsenal's thoroughbred and Our solid plodder? You are most certainly correct that with Anthony the jury is still out, mind you last November you would have said the same thing about Smith Rowe. The difference he has been allowed to establish himself.

My comparison was not an evaluation of the players merits but to show how the players have been trusted. Anthony doesn't need to be better than Smith Rowe for game time, he needed to be better than Bernard and Walcott, and now better than Townsend and Rondon. For some reason he is viewed not.

Robert Tressell
7 Posted 26/10/2021 at 16:43:43

It's interesting to see just how patient Arsenal have been with Arteta. They've looked hopeless at times, but you now look at the side and it's starting to come together. Very young, very talented players brought in - all of whom get a step up in their career.


Because they recognise they cannot compete for ready made players in the transfer market so commit to a manager who is going to develop a core group of players with the ability to be top class.

We've wasted 5 years trying to compete immediately (despite not having a competitive budget) instead of having the patience to build.

Darren Hind
8 Posted 27/10/2021 at 19:25:04

As for the Academy, I sometimes shake my head in disbelief at the stupidity spouted about the academy and "goings on" at Finch Farm.

The fact that every manager Moshiri has appointed has brought in his own backroom team and coaching staff seems to have sailed through the ears of the empty-headed Finch Farm Fact Finders.

Junior coaches who have nothing to do with first-team are blamed for years of first-team failure. Any promising player is whipped away to train with the first-team. We have blown the cost of the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock on failed managers and their high earning coaches and the players they have brought in. Seven hundred million quid!

Yet the best the FFFFs can come up with is to point the finger at a group of junior coaches who probably struggle earn £700k between them. They get the youngsters fit and teach them the basics. The failure of the first team is the responsibility of all those coaches who have been brought in...

Since Moshiri took over, players who have come through the ranks, or been brought into our academy after being scouted by our junior coaches, have sold for around £70M. Players like Holgate, Calvert-Lewin, Davies, Gordon would probably fetch another £100M. Before that, it was Rodwell. Before that, it was Jeffers and Rooney. There will be more that don't spring to mind.

In the Premier League era, our academy has quite literally kept this train wreck of a club afloat. It has paid for itself over and over... and over again.

Without the academy, the FFFFs can't wait to bash, they would not have seen all those failed managers and coaches they have so readily excused. They would not have had the transfer kitty which has brought in so many "superstars". Chances are they would not even be watching Premier League football.

Seven hundred million quid! — and not a single penny of it has been spent by an ex-Everton player.

Bainsey Out!!!!!!

Martin Mason
9 Posted 27/10/2021 at 19:33:11
Darren, why do you never actually substantiate the emotional bullshit that you dump on here? Remember that your opinion isn't fact.
Danny O’Neill
10 Posted 27/10/2021 at 19:47:28
On the performance of the academy, it's all linked and despite all of the owner's investment, it's another area of the club that doesn't really seem to have changed or progressed.

Unless there are foundations being laid that we won't see the fruition of for a few years to come? But then after 5 years, you'd have thought we'd have seen change and seen an output that either fed the first team better or, generated income.

I don't see myself blaming the Academy for years of first-team failure.

I meant to highlight, that like the board, the first team and the Academy, despite the spanking of money (whoever spanked it, I don't know), not a lot seems to have improved and changed.

I think the output could be better; certainly from a feeding the first team regularly perspective.

We could add Stones to your list too. In a similar way to Calvert-Lewin, Everton has to take credit for the final stages of his development and progression to first-team football.

Villa just smashed your £70m with one player. I believe Man City will end up with about £20m from the Dortmund - Man Utd merry-go-round.

It's not academy-bashing on my part, it's just we're not producing those types of players. Maybe there's one or two hiding in there.

And no, the junior coaches are not responsible for the club's woes. It was a comment on the Academy based on the article.

Kieran Kinsella
11 Posted 27/10/2021 at 19:51:38

Cause Darren doesn't have any facts. I criticize the youth production post Sheedy leaving in 2017, and his response is "look at Rooney and Rodwell," who were a decade prior. Then he says Players like "Holgate, DCL Davies Gordon would probably fetch another 100m." Which is no different than saying Iwobi, DCL, Rondon, Delph" would fetch a 100m as 100m or thereabouts is supposedly the figure being quoted in the media for DCL. But he throws in other random names to falsely imply their worth.

He has another falsehood claiming no money has been spent by an ex-Everton player since Moshiri came even – though his boy Unsie and his Under-23 budget PAID MONEY for the likes of Bowler and Gibson.

And another falsehood about most of the junior coaches having left, is demonstrably false as, of those listed, only one has, which was Phil Jevons one month ago.

But he just ignores facts, latches on to the most sympathetic of the Finch Farm crew (Baines) and always uses his name as if he's the one who's been there all this time and not Dunc, Unsie etc.

He also ignores Bill Kenwright's public proclamations of his role in various signings, and claims falsely that the whole club resets with a new business model every time a manager is replaced.

Why does he do these things? Does he honestly forget to answer questions or miss the holes in his arguments? I think it's unlikely. So his motives remain unknown.

Michael Kenrick
12 Posted 27/10/2021 at 19:59:19

Good attempt at debunking our very own ToffeeWeb terrorist.

Once, in a former persona, he did claim his primary raison d'etre was to wind people up. That explains why he prefers to insult rather than debate.

Ian Bennett
13 Posted 27/10/2021 at 20:03:28
Why is Gbamin not playing any minutes in the U23s or being introduced from the bench? How is he ever going to play?
Graham Mockford
14 Posted 27/10/2021 at 20:06:36
Let's look at the real facts. In the last 10 years we have received transfer fees for the following Academy players:

Rodwell – £12M
Anichebe – £6M
Duffy – £1.5M
Barkley – £15M
Robinson – £2M

That's £36.5M when I went to school.

Add to that Davies and Gordon in the current squad.

I'd say that's piss poor really.

And before anyone points it out, Calvert-Lewin, Stones and Holgate are not Academy players, they were signed for money from other sides' Academies. Good business though all three were.

Claiming that the Academy is keeping us afloat is the usual hyperbole.

Darren Hind
15 Posted 27/10/2021 at 20:23:50
I insult nobody Michael. The last people on my mind were Martin or Danny.

For the record; Which statement needs substantiating?

Did we not sell players to survive?
Did Moshiri not back his men?
Do people not point the finger at Finch Farm? (Seen you attack that one yourself)
Have a steady stream of managers and coaches not failed spectacularly?
Is there another level at the club that actually generates money?
Did any ex-player have any hand in squandering the vast fortune we have?

Did Stones and Holgate not sign and play for our academy first?

The same group of people come on and attack every time I post, no matter what I post about. I can see 5-6 of them that don't even talk about footy on this thread alone. If turning the other cheek is the price I have to pay for posting here, I won't be paying it.

Gloves off one. Gloves off all.

Kieran Kinsella
16 Posted 27/10/2021 at 20:34:46

Specific questions

1."Seven hundred million quid! — and not a single penny of it has been spent by an ex-Everton player."

True or false, Unsworth had and spent money post Moshiri arriving and is an ex-Everton player? e.g. Josh Bowler (from Sky) for a fee of £1.25 million rising to £4.5 million? eg, Lewis Gibson (from the Newcastle Chronicle) "It is believed that an initial fee of around £1million will be paid to the Magpies but the fee could eventually rise to around £5million after instalments."

2. "Did we not sell players to survive ?" True or false, this was before the Moshiri era of which we are talking?

3. "Players like Holgate, Calvert-Lewin, Davies, Gordon would probably fetch another £100M." What is the breakdown per player you're estimating? And what are your figures based on?

4. In reference to the prior question, which of those players were actual Everton academy products?

Kevin Prytherch
17 Posted 27/10/2021 at 21:00:44
Kieran – I'll have a go at answering.

1. Yes, Unsworth did reportedly spend some money, so Darren is incorrect there. However, I notice you conveniently leave Calvert-Lewin off your list. Unsworth has probably spent less than £5M and we now have a £70M player on our books. I'd say we could probably do with more ex-Everton players spending this type of money. Wouldn't you?

2. Obviously.

3. Calvert-Lewin £70M. Holgate £15M. Davies £15M. Gordon £10M. Given all their potential, I'd say that could be being conservative. £110M.

4. I refer you to Darren's post in which he never claimed that Stones, Holgate etc came through the academy…

Since Moshiri took over, players who have come through the ranks, or been brought into our academy after being scouted by our junior coaches, have sold for around £70M. Players like Holgate, Calvert-Lewin, Davies, Gordon would probably fetch another £100M.

David Pearl
18 Posted 27/10/2021 at 21:22:33
Ian Bennett,

Long gone are the days our second team could be used to gain match fitness. Seems ridiculous.

Regarding our current model for success I'm hoping the plan is to keep ridding ourselves of those hangers-on so we can start again... again.

We may be at the start of a right cunning plan. In the meantime we keep plodding along for a couple of years. Hopefully along the way our manager can set his sights higher than Rondon and Lonergan. Or at least check their fitness levels first. Rondon could have arrived here with a wooden leg and we'd not have know.

Kieran Kinsella
19 Posted 27/10/2021 at 21:30:57

I wasn't sure if Calvert-Lewin joined before or after Moshiri but Darren's claim was that Unsie had spent "not a penny," under Moshiri which wasn't true.

And where is that figure of £70 million from? In the Moshiri era?
According to the BBC, Lookman cost £11 million and came in as a first teamer:

"Everton have completed the £11M signing of Charlton Athletic's teenage forward Ademola Lookman.

Koeman said: "Ademola is a big talent and, at 19 years old, he has a big future in the game. I'm really happy that we've been able to bring him here to the club."

"Everton has a big history and I was also attracted by the manager," Lookman added.

Onyekuru joined for £7 million and never set foot in the academy.

Koeman signed Vlasic after we played him and Hadjuk Split.

We got a few million for Dowell and "undisclosed" for Browning and that's it apart from the ones listed. And Rodwell, who Graham lists, left before Unsie was even in charge of the Under-23s. So where is the £70 million figure from?

Darren Hind
20 Posted 27/10/2021 at 22:14:53
Unsworth spent nothing.

It's difficult enough for a DOF or a Manager to get carte blanche. A reserve team coach is not afforded a budget. He can recommend, request and even badger – as Unsworth did for Calvert-Lewin. He also spotted and scouted Jarrad Branthwaite but he would not get the final say, he would have needed the approval of the board, the manager, the DOF... or all three.

All I know is that, in terms of who and what he has brought in, and the value for money he got for the club, he has made complete mugs of those who squandered all that money.

Stones was brought in as an academy player. Moyes had no part in his signing. He needed his arm twisting to agree to it. That's a fact revealed by Barnsley FC in their statement when they slaughtered him for later bragging about the price we paid.

Danny O’Neill
21 Posted 27/10/2021 at 22:36:59
Not just bring in someone, but implement a new governance structure throughout the club. And yes, that's change. Change of business philosophy, change of personnel (not just the manager), change of mentality and change at the academy level. But multiple change of personnel, not just focus on the manager as being the only thing that impacts the performance of the club.

I've been desperately refraining from the Unsworth debate. I've said my piece on him in the past, but it's not his fault.

I can sit here suggesting the U23s and the Academy has stagnated, but I love watching them (when we actually get a stream!). Those who know me will know I just don't like the U23 system. Not just Everton, but at large. I don't think it's effective, but it's not the reason for Everton's failings.

Look, I'm a traditionalist. I love my visits to the Goodison Supper Bar, but this is the problem. We haven't changed. Me in most of my life, but even 5 years after a Billionaire walked through the door. As Paul Tran & Steve called out, look at how City adapted and changed. The saving grace, it wasn't as smooth a ride or as quick for City as we tend to remember in hindsight. But they did have momentum that you could feel building.

We're still on the rollercoaster. It's just the Everton one, so it's as bumpy and rickety as the Grand National at the Blackpool Pleasure Park for those who remember. But we'll get to the end state and over the line!!

Don Alexander
22 Posted 27/10/2021 at 22:43:14
Our Dazza cites Rooney, Jeffers and Rodwell as big cash generators after a youth career beginning at Finch Farm, and he's right. Unfortunately for him the discussion on this thread is on the current plethora of Kenwright ass-kissers, none of whom were even at Finch Farm when the three named were developed or sold. Anichebe and Barkley were first team players too by the time the current crew were installed by Kenwright.

As ever, Dazza overlooks these recorded, unarguable opinion-less facts in order to blow his preposterously machinations in personal, insulting attacks on fellow fans (and loads of us have cited him as insulting, and worse, but in his own tiny mind everyone's always out of step but him).

Anyway, the current ex-player coaching crew, excepting their "star" achiever (if there's another, please tell me) Keiron Dowell (he was one of five players acquired by Norwich for a net £6million after his two games for our first team), have only been able from those they personally "developed" to get rid of the likes of Liam Walsh, Callum Connolly, Joe Williams, Matthew Pennington and Beni Baningime (and others), the whole lot having made about ten first team appearances between them, all of them moving on for zilch or next to it, a bit like Dowell.

Some record that, but Dazza remains in awe of those at USMFF (including the admittedly lovely Bainsey), but silent on who was personally responsible for signing them (it was Kenwright according to them Dazza, the guy you, and Steve Williams, are now seeming to transpose into some sort of innocent in the club's thirty years decline, but don't let facts get in the way of your anti-fellow-fan invective Dazza).

By the way, you might want to review a recent TW article published in your name under the title, "The case for the central defence". It was a good read but the author, whoever he/she/it was, admitted to not having foreseen their faults before Messrs Mina, Keane and Godfrey were signed and nor did he/she/it slag off any other of our fans.

Just saying, that don't sound like you fella!

David Thomas
23 Posted 27/10/2021 at 22:59:17

If someone is willing to give us £30 million for Davies and Holgate we should take it and run.

John Keating
24 Posted 27/10/2021 at 23:56:19
Benitez may well be right about looking at all aspects of the Club. He's not daft, blind or deaf. He lives here and has done for years so he has more than a good idea about Everton and its characters.

Why should Finch Farm, with its never-ending production line of top talent of youngsters that saves us millions and who walk straight into the first team, get away with scrutiny because our “Unsy”, in his job for life, is there with his mates?

Has there ever been anyone in other clubs similar to our own 'legend' Big Dunc, that has survived countless managers and retained his first-team coaching role?

There's too much “niceness” in our club. Pity we can't bring in an independent inquiry team to look at all aspects of the club. If Unsy and Dunc are proven to be indispensable, good news. If not, they and anyone else, should get the Carey treatment.

John Boon
25 Posted 28/10/2021 at 00:59:47
Darren (re any post in living memory),

I am one of those who seem to come on to TW just to be critical of what you write, without sticking to the article or topic on hand. I read every post and have never had any difficulty in expressing my opinion about the various posts put by numerous different people, but all Everton supporters. I clearly responded to Paul's excellent article.

I do NOT need to bore people by debating totally unimportant facts just to prove I am right. Mainly because I am not always right, as other posters may have sensibly pointed out without using a sledge hammer BUT let's be truthful!! You are always right. Your oafish pomposity is beyond belief. I read your badly written posts just to see who you have insulted today. You are a joke in the eyes of so many and I really don't care just what you have to say.

You could easily write a book on completely unimportant facts about Everton FC or just about any other topic. Or just stick to what you are really good at, insulting as opposed to debating with "fellow" Evertonians.

Darren Hind
26 Posted 28/10/2021 at 05:20:58
People can try to lie their way out when their ignorance has been exposed but they fool nobody.

Nowhere, not here, not anywhere, do I say I am in awe of anybody at Finch Farm. That's just gibberish... Lies. invented by people who have peddled this myth about Finch Farm. People who, by their own admission, know absolutely zero about what goes on there.

I simply point out the absurdity of blaming the one department which has repeatedly paid for itself, for the financial bind we find ourselves in. I simply point out that the one guy who has won the trophy he competes for (twice) who has found the club close to £100M worth of talent, and made a complete mockery of signings made by a succession of managers, is not the reason for our failure.

When I used Rooney, Jeffers and Rodwell to emphasise the importance of our academy, I kinda knew I was offering a little hidey hole for the current Finch Farm bashers. I'm happy to take them out of the equation. Let's just stick to sales and value generated on Moshiri's watch alone.

Stones – £50M
Barkley – £15M
Various other players' undisclosed figures – let's be conservative – £10

Then we have the players who are still here. The ones who have seen off dozens and dozens of free-loading bench-warmers who have infested the club and hung around, squeezing every penny out of it – they'll be the ones brought in by the managers earning astronomical wages. Again I will be conservative:

Calvert-Lewin – £75M?
Holgate, Davies and Gordon, all young but experienced Premier League players £30M?

Wages of every ex-player, even the one who works on the turny and those who do matchday hospitality.... £5M?

There are a few exceptions, but Finch Farm – like just about every other academy in the world – will only produce one or two top players per generation. There isn't one player who has been let go and gone on to prove the staff wrong by "making it" elswhere.

Graham Mockford
28 Posted 28/10/2021 at 08:26:49
Stones and Calvert-Lewin are not homegrown players. They both made the first-team debuts within 9 months of their signing. Very good pieces of business for sure, someone scouted them for sure, but they are the result of coaching which was done in South Yorkshire.

Take their values away from the numbers being bandied around and you're left with not a lot.

Don Alexander
29 Posted 28/10/2021 at 08:37:15
Dazza, maybe your comment "I kinda knew I was offering a little Hidey hole for the current Finch Farm Bashers" should resonate with you, old bean, cos to me it suggests you goofed when bizarrely citing Rooney, Rodwell and Jeffers as the product of Unsy's et al's coaching success.

A febrile imagination can do that to people with an inability to control their invective.

And nobody is saying that Unsy et al are solely responsible for our current financial plight because everyone who's critical, and that's nearly all of us as this thread alone makes clear, points the finger at Monaco and the boardroom alone, and mostly at Kenwright.

Indeed you were very recently among the most vociferous of us Kenwright critics but now, see your post above, you appear to absolve him from responsibility. Hmm!

Are you forever to strive to be the (very) odd one out?

David Thomas
30 Posted 28/10/2021 at 08:42:46
If my memory serves me right, Calvert-Lewin, Stones and Holgate were 18 or 19 years old when we signed them and had already played first-team football for other clubs.
Sam Hoare
31 Posted 28/10/2021 at 08:55:17
As Graham points out, Calvert-Lewin and Stones were bought in from other clubs and whoever scouted them deserves credit but they were not developed by the academy which has brought through very few players of notable value over the last 5-6 years; certainly compared to some other Premier League academies. Holgate was also bought in.

Davies, Gordon and Kenny are the players who have come through the academy currently. The latter was hard to sell this summer but Gordon may prove useful if he can keep up his current form. Davies is a decent squad player who might fetch £10m on a good day.

If Unsworth really wants to be a first-team manager, then he surely has to make a move to a Championship or League One team in the next few years; doesn’t seem likely that Moshiri will give him the first-team job before proving himself consistently somewhere else.

Danny O’Neill
32 Posted 28/10/2021 at 09:47:34
In fairness, very few clubs will bring through a significant number of players from cradle to first-team regular. Most poach off others throughout the youth system and a lot of young players move around because they're not fancied by a particular club at the time. Even "one of our own", Harry Kane had brief stints at Arsenal and Watford before settling at Tottenham.

It's common practice. But the academy that "polishes" them off and turns them into first-team stars deserves as much credit as those who discovered them, in my opinion.

So, the fact is, we (and other clubs) shouldn't be expecting the Finch Farm flood gates to produce en-masse for the first team. Maybe 2 - 3 is reasonable. Only Man Utd have done that consistently over the years. Chelsea have had good recent success, but I'm assuming those foundations were being laid several years ago.

It's a Catch-22. Much to everyone's disappointment (mine included), we aren't producing players who will consistently be in the senior starting line-up. If they're not playing regular first-team football, there's no significant price tag if we decide to sell or they want to move.

Not since Rooney have we had that. Maybe Barkley and, to a degree, Rodwell. The latter two, I would call them modest fees considering the hype and hope when they burst through. Rooney – anyone other than Everton would have demanded a lot more than we buckled for.

We just aren't producing a player who can feature in the first team for a few seasons and then command £100M when we eventually decide or have to sell (eg, Grealish) or Kane, when he eventually goes. Or alternatively, they stay and go on to be an Everton great.

Maybe they're hiding in the next generation and we'll see them in a couple of years (revert to Chelsea example).

David Midgley
33 Posted 28/10/2021 at 10:57:19
Could someone verify. I thought it was in EPL rules that clubs had to have a certain number of young players on their books to give them opportunities and that a certain proportion had to be British.

Possibly one of the worst things that happened was the demise of the Central League. First team squad who weren't playing could play regularly and be match fit and younger players could be brought in and developed and learn the ropes.

Michael Kenrick
34 Posted 28/10/2021 at 11:50:56

That's the rule regarding homegrown players named in each Premier League first-team squad. I think (without checking) the required number is 8 out of 25, which seems significant but it all gets a bit squirrely when you look at the criteria.

It's something like spending 3 years or more in an Academy in England or Wales before age 18. Doesn't have to be in your academy. And they don't have to be British.

Danny Broderick
35 Posted 28/10/2021 at 12:22:51
Have we not started fielding younger teams in the Under-23s this season?

The Under-23s does seem to have gone a bit stale in the last 4/5 years. We were keeping young players under contract until age 23 or 24 sometimes when it was blatantly obvious they weren't going to make it.

I thought steps had been taken this year to blood some younger players in the Under-23s and see where it took us, but I may be wrong.

Michael Kenrick
36 Posted 28/10/2021 at 12:34:25
It does make you wonder too, when you see a consummate failure like Jose Baxter welcomed back into the club again with open arms and press fanfares, this time on the coaching side at Finch Farm.

Is he really the sort of high-level ultra-professional top-class internationally renowned coach who should be giving Everton U23s advice and guidance about making the step up to senior training? Has he even got any coaching qualifications?

Surely he's only just retired from his wasted career as a professional footballer – look at the fearsome foursome we now have guiding our future stars along the path to the first team: David Unsworth, John Ebbell, Leighton Baines, Jose Baxter... Along with perennial incumbent Duncan Ferguson.

Someone posted about Everton not doing dynasties... well, if you wanted to maintain in-house mediocrity, this looks like a good way to do just that.

Danny O’Neill
37 Posted 28/10/2021 at 12:36:16
Okay David, you've triggered me with the Central League. I'm out now now but standby for some scratched records from Danny!!

Michael, I think you're correct. Once a player has spent a period (3 or 4 years?) In the English academy system before 18 years old, I believe they are considered "home grown".

Steavey Buckley
38 Posted 28/10/2021 at 12:38:54
The purpose of the Everton Under-23s is to provide quality players for the first-team squad, which is now proving very difficult. When Everton chose players directly from schoolboy football to fill their youth teams, there was an enormous amount of talent who came through to play in the reserves and eventually the first team.

The 1969-70 title-winning league team consisted of Brian Labone, John Hurst, Tommy Wright, Alan Whittle, Jimmy Husband and Joe Royle, who all came from schoolboy football.

It is in the interest of Everton FC once again to look for talent from local schoolboy football. Especially, those younger players who play for their towns and cities in the north-west of England.

Robert Tressell
39 Posted 28/10/2021 at 13:01:14
The job of the Academy is to deliver first-team players. This starts with 8-year-olds or even younger. If the U23s doesn't deliver, then look for the culprits in the younger age group. The stars will never really need to play U23 football.

That's closer to how things are now structured, with schoolboys in the U18s and U23s largely made up of U18s. The next step comes from loans, with the best going straight to the first-team squad.

Kieran Kinsella
40 Posted 28/10/2021 at 13:11:28
With Jose, Jeffers, Dunc etc Michael Branch would be a good addition. Homegrown, mediocre player, criminal record.
Steve Brown
41 Posted 28/10/2021 at 13:32:38
Clubs recruit kids as various ages; for example, Harvey Elliott joining Liverpool when he was 15. If they play for any of the Academy teams, then I see them as an Academy product.

Darren named a few, but there are more:

Frazer Hornby – £1.8M,
Antonee Robinson – £2M

He is also being conservative in his valuation of Calvert-Lewin, Davies, Holgate, Gordon and Kenny – based on current transfer fees, I would estimate £125-135M.

Everton's financial problems start and finish with the transfer fees spent over the last 5 years on the first-team squad.

Robert Tressell
42 Posted 28/10/2021 at 13:50:04
Completely agree with that last comment, Steve #41.

And the academy is now looking like it is developing a good group - with Gordon, Branthwaite, Dobbin and Onyango now part of the first team squad, Simms likely to develop on loan again after injury.

Warrington, Price, Whitaker and Welch all look capable of breaking through with the likes of Lawrence, Heath and Metcalfe doing well in younger age groups.

If we can start buying in top talents too (as our neighbours did with Sterling, Ibe, Brewster, Solanke, Elliott, Gordon, Camacho, Ki Jana Hoever etc, etc) then we'll be in really good shape.

I would like to see more stylish play from our Academy sides, but the structure now looks good and we will hopefully see some return on that restructure in the relative short term.

Kieran Kinsella
43 Posted 28/10/2021 at 13:58:00

18 months or so ago, Baxter was the over age charity case playing alongside the Under-23s and hardly lighting up the place. Now he's back with zero coaching experience and telling them what to do. Shouldn't we be looking for the best most innovative qualified coaches?

The strategy seems to be anyone down on their luck who was involved at some level at Everton can walk in and get a coach's job. Sheedy was an ex-player, yes, but an outstanding one who had managerial experience. Since he left, his Under-16 graduates faded and fell behind their peers and we've produced little else.

I don't think we will produce more with the old boys recruitment strategy. Obviously the first team is a shambles and now broke which means we need to get more from the Academy... but, year-in & year-out, the pool of players seems to get worse.

Graham Mockford
44 Posted 28/10/2021 at 15:04:23
Steve 41

I don't think anyone would argue about the money pissed up the wall in the last 5 years.

But it's a real stretch to describe Calvert-Lewin and Stones as Academy players. They were bought as exciting teenage prospects and both had made first-team debuts within 9 months. Excellent business.

After that, you're really not left with a lot. Davies, Kenny and Gordon. The first a decent enough pro who will play at a decent level and would have market value. The second not looking like a Premier League player, and Gordon who might end up being a good 'un.

In 10 years, we've produced one Premier League footballer, Barkley, and a series of players destined for Championship football at best.

Maybe the model is wrong, maybe the coaches are not up to it, most likely the top sides with vaster resources can attract the best youngsters.

Either way, our record is not one to crow about.

Danny O’Neill
45 Posted 28/10/2021 at 15:36:15
Sorry, piece-mealing here. I'll come in with something more constructive later (well in my own head anyway!!).

Found an interesting article from 2013 about the German approach to academies and youth football. Okay, a bit dated now, but I don't think there will have been too many differences over the years (previously and since) between the two nations' approaches:

"The incredible depth of Germany's coaching resources, as well as the DFB's close relationship with Bundesliga clubs, helps to make the programme. According to Uefa, Germany has 28,400 (England 1,759) coaches with the B licence, 5,500 (895) with the A licence and 1,070 (115) with the Pro licence, the highest qualification. It is little wonder that Ashworth said last month that there will be no quick fix for English football. The country that invented the game has forgotten that we need people to teach it".

Kieran Kinsella
46 Posted 28/10/2021 at 15:44:03

Great stat there. The sad part is that of the 895 with B licences, about 800 of them are ex RS and MU players who did it as a vanity project before becoming commentators on Sky or BTsport. The properly run clubs draft in qualified coaches from overseas. Everton draft them in from the Toxteth AA meetings.

David Thomas
47 Posted 28/10/2021 at 15:45:54
Steve Brown,

Say £70 million for DCL?

Do you think we would get approx £65 million for Holgate, Davies, Kenny and Gordon?

Kieran Kinsella
48 Posted 28/10/2021 at 15:54:09

Didn't Burnley laugh at a £10 million valuation for Kenny? I'd be surprised if any of them (except maybe Gordon if he proves to be good) would even garner a fee as in this climate, the kind of teams who see these guys as an upgrade simply have no money to spend. Even the mighty PSG couldn't find £30 million to buy Kean who'd scored a lot of goals for them.

Kevin Prytherch
49 Posted 28/10/2021 at 16:10:02
There is usually a small window of opportunity for players to kick on and make it in the top flight. Players reach an age where they need more exposure to football to really kick on or they start to stagnate, it’s no coincidence that Chelsea produced next to nothing for years until their transfer embargo, suddenly they played some of their youth players and lots of them have kicked on in ways we can only envy. Do you think so many would have made it without the transfer embargo? I’d guess at no, since they would have been on loan in a sub standard league or playing sub standard U23 football.

We’ve had a succession of managers with absolutely no faith in youth football. Koeman was more concerned with his marquee players (although he did give Davies a go), Silva didn’t give anyone a debut during his tenure, Sam wouldn’t play Lookman because Bolasie cost more and Ancelotti mainly preferred his 27-32 year olds.

Look at Anthony Gordon this year, someone’s put a bit of trust in him and he’s playing well. Could he have got to this point 9-12 months earlier if Ancelotti had of done the same thing?

We had 5 U20 World Cup winners in the squad, plus Davies and Holgate, and yet no manager at the time would even contemplate playing most of them. It’s no wonder Dowell stopped progressing, he had a good loan spell and was being talked about in the same breath as Maddison. Maddison got given the opportunity at Leicester, Dowell got give 45 minutes in a league cup tie then sent back to stagnate in the U23’s. Kenny couldn’t be trusted ahead of Martina, Lookman couldn’t ahead of Bolasie, Davies was behind Schneiderlin, Holgate behind Williams. Even Calvert-Lewin only started playing up front with confidence when Ferguson trusted him with it.

Who’s to say that, if we had of actually exposed these players to the first team as Chelsea did under Lampard, that more of them wouldn’t have progressed sufficiently to make this whole argument pointless?

Also, for the first 3-4 years in the Moshiri era, us fans have acted like spoilt brats. We went from being a knowledgeable fan base to being a fan base that believed it was entitled to success. Thus there has been a toxic atmosphere towards anyone who didn’t instantly produce success. Young and senior players alike disappeared into their shells, playing it safe since every misplaced pass was met with howls of abuse and the bog standard “championship at best” tags. It’s no wonder young players weren’t trusted, 1 mistake and the backing for the team goes.

The U23’s might not have produced a world beater in a while, but they’ve had no help from inept managers and starry eyed fans. Maybe we should look at the bigger picture and not blame everything on Unsworth.

Steavey Buckley
50 Posted 28/10/2021 at 16:16:55
Under-23s football will not improve until a Reserves League is formed again that allows a mixture of Under-23s and first-team players.

I watched the Everton Under-23s play Manchester United Under-23s at Southport and the game was in desperate need of experienced players on both sides to help the younger players.

Kieran Kinsella
51 Posted 28/10/2021 at 16:18:31

"The U23’s might not have produced a world beater in a while, but they’ve had no help from inept managers and starry eyed fans. Maybe we should look at the bigger picture and not blame everything on Unsworth."

I agree with that statement. But to Rafa's point, every area of the club needs to improve. No one bar maybe the tannoy announcer has been doing a good job. Player acquisition, staff recruitment, marketing, and yes the Academy.

John Keating
52 Posted 28/10/2021 at 16:18:48
We quite rightly moan about the World's Greatest Evertonian continuing his laudable career at the Club.
We moan about out lack of business acumen regarding matchday income, overseas income, the kit and merchandise fiasco etc
In fact we moan about a lot.
However, it appears the Finch Farm stalwarts are untouchable and brook no adverse comments.
To all intents and purpose Unsy and his mates have produced little if any first team regulars or generated any significant income in sales for the Club.

Maybe the Finch Farm team are the greatest team in the UK but are they not allowed to be challenged?
Do they get a continual free pass and an easy get out with the various in and out of managers?

All departments should be liable to scrutiny and that includes Unsy and his team

Kevin Prytherch
53 Posted 28/10/2021 at 16:31:41
Kieron 51 - totally agree, the whole process should be looked at.

However, amongst many posters the whole blame is on particular people and when they get defended by others that's when the debates start.

Kenwright gets blames for pretty much everything, but Moshiri and Brands get let off.

Unsworth gets blamed, but the succession of managers, each with different ideas don't.

Former players get blamed when no one really knows if they're any good.

The entire youth system gets blamed, but costs a fraction compared to money squandered by others.

What Benitez said is probably correct, but let's apportion the blame fairly and not directed at a couple of individuals who may or may not be good at what they do.

Dave Abrahams
54 Posted 28/10/2021 at 16:37:09
Kieran (48),

The story I read or heard about was that Burnley offered £9M for Kenny but Everton wanted £10M... although you'd think there would have been some compromise if those figures were true.

I believe the scout who brought Jonjoe to Everton wasn't happy when the deal broke down because he lost his bonus from the deal.

Kieran Kinsella
55 Posted 28/10/2021 at 16:39:20

Yeah that's weird. I mean you'd think anyone would start a negotiation by making a low bid knowing they're willing to compromise. So if you start at £9 million then £10 million isn't exactly outrageous.

Bill Gall
56 Posted 28/10/2021 at 17:11:31
I don't think Man City can be used as an example of a billionaire takeover they were allowed around 4 years before they were scrutinized by the FFP rules and were able to stabilize their first team before concentrating on their youth system.

My understanding is that most young players start off at around the 11 or 12 year age and progress from there, and a lot of names mentioned came through at a time when the club was more stable under one manager.

There is not a lot of success shown by players 15 or 16 years old as outstanding, continuing on to become quality players for the first team, and a lot of players mentioned with other clubs coming through are usually 1 or 2 from 30 or 40 young players that they started off with.

The headline. What is the purpose of the Under-23s? The purpose is to simply give up-and-coming young players not in the first-team squad a chance to play in a competitive game and develop.
Without writing verbatim, I suggest people Google and read what is the responsibilities of a Football Director, and maybe people will find out why there is so much criticism of Brands and why Benitez wants change.

I read that the average age of the Under-23s is coming down but living abroad I don't get the chance to watch the younger teams that I used to living in Liverpool.

Basically, the chopping and changing of managers has made Brands's position more difficult to do, than a manager spending 5, 6, 7 or more years at a club.

I don't know who signs young players from other clubs but isn't it usually on recommendations from scouts, before being watched by senior coaches from the club?

Robert Tressell
57 Posted 28/10/2021 at 17:27:37
Kevin P, the Chelsea lot definitely got more opportunities through the transfer embargo.

But - Mount, Abraham, Tomori, James had stopped playing u23s and developed on loan in Holland and the Championship from age 17 / 18. They'd already shown a lot of quality and weren't simply a bunch of kids being chucked in at the deep end. Gallagher and Gilmour are now following the same path. Lamptey, Livramento and Broja are surplus to requirements such are their riches.

They've taken a long time to get here because coaching kids properly starts very young. Ajax expect kids to have mastered technique by age 8.

Our academy structure now looks right. I have no idea about the coaching.

Loans have effectively replaced the reserve league and we need to use them effectively.

Darren Hind
58 Posted 28/10/2021 at 18:26:58
"Since Moshri took over, players who have been brought through the ranks or brought into out academy after being scouted by junior coaches have been sold for around 70m. Players like Holgate, Calvert- Lewin, Davies and Gordon would probably fetch another 100m.
BEFORE THAT, It was Rodwell, BEFORE THAT it was, it was Jeffers and Rooney. There will be more that don't spring to mind"

Straight forward enough...No mention of Unsworth. None whatsoever. Yet Don Alexander in his relentless persuit and failure to land a glove actually saw this; "You goofed when bizarrely citing Rooney. Rodwell and Jeffers as the product of Unsy's et al's coaching success"

Should'nt mock. I suppose.

Those who are accusing Unsworth stealing a living. Maybe should take a long hard look at replays of our last few games without DCL. This is what it would be like all the time, because without Unsworth, we would not have DCL and without DCL we would not have hope of turning our season around. Rhino may not have had top quality coming through to work with,,,,but his shrewd judgement has rendered him the the only person I can think of at this club who has paid for himself over and over again.

Stealing a living ? what was Koeman, Silva, Allardyce, and Ancelotti - not to mention their bus load of back room staff doing ?....Earning their dough ?

Darren Hind
59 Posted 28/10/2021 at 18:40:34
Here's another thing.

Where does this "These are Kenwright's boys" come from? Talk about not knowing your club or its culture?

Everton have been employing Evertonian backroom staff since time began. Kenwright and Moshiri are not the creators of this culture. They are the beneficiaries of it.

Imagine where we would be if we relied solely on the jokers these two have brought in to fund the club?

Joe McMahon
60 Posted 28/10/2021 at 18:48:45
To try and put this to bed, does anyone know if any of Man City's or Liverpool's coaching staff are ex-players? Liverpool certainly did back in the 70s and 80s but it's a different game now of course.
Kieran Kinsella
61 Posted 28/10/2021 at 18:58:47
Darren 59

Does the name Brian Barry-Murphy mean anything to you? or Kevin Betsy? Wayne Burnett? Barry Lewtas? me either but they are the under 23 coaches at City, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool, none had any history at the clubs, just established coaches those clubs sought out as they wanted quality coaches. In contrast, what do we get? The latest being a fellow whose biggest claims to fame are being busted for using counterfeit cash and smoking pot, playing over age football for the under 23s when he was closer to 30 than 20, then retiring as no one would employ him as a player but immediately gets hired as part of Unsie's crew. The old days of the "Bootroom" are long gone at most forward thinking clubs.

"Kenwright and Moshiri are not the creators of this culture. They are the beneficiaries of it."

Wow. "beneficiaries"?

Bill Gall
62 Posted 28/10/2021 at 19:14:56
The huge thing about young players is they want to play for the glamour clubs. Chelsea, after their take over by Abramovich, with their wealth became the glamour club and they became the go-to club for younger players that gave them the advantage over the other London clubs and the huge area of youth football that they scouted.

Everton have the same problem in attracting young players with Liverpool and the 2 Manchester teams in the recruiting area.

When talking about players coming through to the first team, look at the amount of players they started with that don't make it. The amount of growth in young players from 10/12 and 16/18 is different and you can't coach abilities, you can only coach how a young player can adapt his abilities to a position he is suited to in a team environment.

About the only position that can be coached from an early age is a keeper. From what I have read and other people have commented on it, is on the continent, coaching is more on the technical side of things whereas in England it is more on the physical.

Bobby Mallon
63 Posted 28/10/2021 at 22:02:29
Darren Hind you wrote.

Those who are accusing Unsworth stealing a living. Maybe should take a long hard look at replays of our last few games without DCL. This is what it would be like all the time, because without Unsworth, we would not have DCL and without DCL we would not have hope of turning our season around.

It wasn’t unsworth that made him what he is, it was DCL himself listening to managers like Ancelloti and putting the hard work and graft into his game. For me Unsworth does his job very well. He gets young players to a point where he thinks they could possibly play for the first team. At that point it’s down to those players to bust a fucking gut to impress the manager. Most will not make it because they don’t have the mental capacity to play at premiership level. It could also be that the manager just doesn’t fancy them.
But let’s get one thing straight Unsworth is not responsible for DCLs goal scoring that’s down to him And the last two managers.

Paul Hewitt
64 Posted 28/10/2021 at 22:10:25
Quite simply the U23's should be shut down. Not developing players for the first team,Or players to sell on. Just get rid.
Andy Riley
65 Posted 28/10/2021 at 22:17:15
Think this is really difficult as we’re almost comparing different eras and generations. I’ve watched Everton since the late 60s which was a golden generation coming through - Harvey, Royle, Husband, Hurst, Kenyon, Whittle, Styles, Johnson, Lyons etc.
Since then realistically very few and only Rooney really moved upwards after leaving us. Others really went downhill such as Barkkey, Jeffers, Michael Ball, Rodwell.
Not sure any of this can be blamed on the youth coaches either now or in the past?
Michael Kenrick
66 Posted 28/10/2021 at 22:31:45

If you know your history, the Under-23s are the current manifestation of Everton Reserves, while the Central League progressively evolved into Premier League 2.

Your reading assignment

It's probably only old folk who cling to this idea of them being Reserves rather than developing young players. Because, as we have been told, many first-team players when they sign for the club, have it written into their contracts that they will not play "reserve" football with the second team.

John Keating
67 Posted 28/10/2021 at 23:23:53
Bill 62
Bill you are correct in that the top London clubs are a magnet for youngsters and we are behind both Manchester clubs and “the other lot”
But then you look at a club like Southampton.
Over the last few years they’ve brought in a few youngsters who they’ve sold on for decent money and a couple who are established first team players
Brentford, not exactly a major London player, appear to be doing a decent enough job also
While St.Unsy of Halewood and his apostles remain under the radar and above any sort of criticism I doubt not much will change in the parish of Finch Farm
Darren Hind
68 Posted 28/10/2021 at 23:30:37

You can say that about every player who ever lived...but when they are kicking around the lower divisions, SOMEBODY. has to spot their potential. or (as in many cases) they drift from the game having never realised their potential/
There were about fifty teams in this country alone who could have brought DCL to a higher level. Every single one of them pay several people to be on the lookout for "hidden gems". Rhino found this one and badgered the club to sign him.

Unsworth may not be responsible for the goals DCL scores, but he is most definitely responsible for the fact that he scores them for Everton.

That fact seems to hurt some people. They want to stick their fingers in their ears and talk only about the quality which didnt turn up at our academy. I wonder if they will continue ito be in denial when young Jarrad forces his way through

Paul Birmingham
69 Posted 28/10/2021 at 23:47:52
For me the years of erosion and growing decline in Everton, lies at the heart of the club, as the biggest burden. You can’t change time and history.

Everton FC, is a football club and a business. To be successful you must adapt and work hard. Last years success, in ant business doesn’t count for this year, other than it’s a bench mark to beat or at least achieve.

Tin hat time, but there’s a life time and no sign of resurrecting success on the park this season.

The club is not joined up and the internal communications within the club and to Evertonians, are rarely synched.

There’s the going through the motions syndrome, and effectively mediocrity has become expected.

Who honestly expects to go on a 3 match away win run these days?

For me at Board level, it’s the understandings and vision of what Everton is about. The history is great but it’s becoming ancient history in football terms.

The board need to stop pretending to be professional and start being a professional football club at all levels.

It’s numbing going to games knowing that the game, and the season, respectively, is either lost, or struggled to win, and Everton, are or will be very likely making up the numbers.

Gladbach smashed Bayern, last night in the German Cup, Everton, can do the same in the EPL. United at the start of the month, was great, but taking away the old excuse of international breaks, did any one expect, to resume the next game with the same vigour and belief?

So this is a deep subject but warranting buying players whom have no values, or self respect, or respect for the club, just adds to the burden.

More questions, than answers, but Everton, right now, are permanently transitioning.

I hope Rafa, is given time and space to get stability and core football values into the club, at all levels. He’s a good pro, more vitality than the last Fraud of a manager, but he needs to realise, that he’s taken on a few bad hands, and so he must make do, and also review his own tactics and philosophies, as to get the blend and chemistry, right.

Let’s hope so, as hand on heart, it’s looking like a very tough rest of this season.

The club has created its own Babel, and will be in pergatory for all time, at this rate.

I hope to see some success again by the first team, in my life time, and my lads life time, and for all Evertonians.

It can only get better?

Colin Glassar
70 Posted 29/10/2021 at 00:07:18
Waste of time and money if you ask me.
Don Alexander
71 Posted 28/10/2021 at 00:25:41
Dazza, once again, like some snake-oil salesman, you quote yourself and totally misquote my response to you.

I said that NONE (the capitals are for your benefit alone) of the present ex-player coaches were even at Finch Farm when Rooney, Jeffers and Rodwell were developed and sold. They all arrived AFTERWARDS. I also added that Barkley and Anichebe were already in the first team squad when Kenwright's favourites were appointed.

So, what has the current ex-player coaching team achieved. DCL? No, the facts say otherwise given that he was 19 when we signed him, i.e. ADULT not a youth. Holgate? No again given that he was 18 when he signed for us.

And please stop squirming on the fence when I repeatedly ask you just who appointed Unsworth, Ferguson and the rest. As ever you simply evade answering, in the churlish manner of a child.

If you can't remember I'll give you a clue;

In your polemic at #59 you state;

"Everton have been employing Evertonian backroom staff since time began. Kenwright and Moshiri are not the creators of this culture. They are the beneficiaries of it.

Imagine where we would be if we relied solely on the jokers these two have brought in to fund the club?"

My clue to you is that the person responsible for appointing Unsy et al is definitely one of those two but does NOT LIVE IN MONACO. That's the truth Dazza, even according to the Finch Farm crew themselves, but the truth for you is always avoidable it seems.

And whilst you might be the only fan on Earth to fail to see the difference in trophy winning achievement between now and when we had such success pre-Kenwright the fact is that football's moved on, unlike Kenwright and Moshiri.

Two or three years ago I researched and posted that none of the trophy winning clubs employed ex-players in any real capacity, if at all, and as far as I know that's still the case everywhere but in the museum that still engulfs Everton.

And lastly, on DCL. Like you I've always extolled his virtues on TW. To infer otherwise would be yet another tedious childish lie.

John Boon
72 Posted 28/10/2021 at 00:44:11
Steve Buckley (50) a sincere "Yes, Yes,Yes"

I am an old timer who likes today's football. I mention my age, but only because it is relevant to the topic being discussed. While I realise that the skill level of today's players is amazing, the actual excitement of a game pales compared to the battles of yesteryear when every team had at least a chance of winning the first division. Ipswich is probably the best example of what an equal playing field meant.

With the influx of players from overseas there has been a dramatic change in the structure of football. The old Reserve Team set up meant that players could move fluidly from the Reserve team, while older players could have to be satisfied with some games in the "Second" team. But at least players would be playing somewhere.

Foreign players today only aspire to play in the first team. If they are playing poorly they will NOT go to the Under 23 but will just hang around, while being payed millions to twiddle their thumbs. A good example and there are many was Niasse, a pleasant young man, and a complete waste of money. He could not go to the second team so he just did not play at all until he was sent out on loan.

Going back to the days of reserve team football. In those days younger players, Brian Harris is a good example, could play for the reserves and then the first team, until such times as they became a more regular first team player. They could also benefit from playing with 35+ player who could no longer do his best for the First team.

"Twenty Three" is a ridiculous number grabbed out of the air by some idiot who decided that teams only needed players who MIGHT get a game in a so called Squad. In the past each team had a relatively large group of players who were all eligible to move easily from first team to reserves. At least they played !!!!, The reserve team also had a very full schedule. Today someone such as Gbami could be playing regularly for the reserve team, rather than "hoping" he could get on in the 87th minute of a Premier league game.

Why so many of our younger players do not make it is because they hardly ever get the chance to just play football. Or, as in the case of Gordon, he was loaned out so he could sit on Preston"s bench instead of Everton's nice blue one.

For every player I have mentioned in each different circumstance I could have included many more who are basically being starved of playing football.The present system is just plain Rubbish.

Kieran Kinsella
73 Posted 29/10/2021 at 02:40:35
John Boon

You've earned a few more years than me but even when I was younger I used to keep up with the reserves and hear that say Graham Stuart (remember when we signed him then he never appeared for about a year?) was impressing in the reserves and lo and behold he got into the first team. Nowadays we hear "so and so isn't match fit as he hasn't been playing in the first team."

Also to Michael Kenrick's point about players signing clauses to prevent them playing for the Under 23s. I wonder if say Messi or Ronaldo have such a clause? My suspicion is that such clauses are for self important journeymen like Schneiderlin who'd rather not play than be "demeaned" by playing in the Under-23s.

In fairness to some of our fairly recent players, Gibson and McCarthy for example had no issue playing for the Under-23s to get match fit. But most of these other prima donnas seem to feel they are above it.

Darren Hind
74 Posted 29/10/2021 at 06:14:10
Don Alexnder

You question keeps getting blanked because I have answered it before. You seem to think by repeatedly asking it. You will get a different reply...You wont

The people who brought Unsworth to Sheff United were sacked. Rhino was out on his ear. He was working with the Scottish FA. He was offered the managers job at a Scottish club (cant remember which one) but didnt fancy it up there. He chose instead accepted an invite from his old china plate Stubbsy to come and assist him at our academy - Note no mention of Kenwright -. He was earning peanuts from Stubbsy's staffing budget.
Stubbsy left and Rhino was offered the Gig. but Kenwright hadnt brought him back he was already here.

Duncan Ferguson had blown his fortune. He wrote to David Moyes - Note, once again, No mention of Kenwrght.

Ferguson was FCUK'D. The only way he could get his life back on track was through football. Free loading Dunc worked for Davey Moyes (get this)...For nothing. zilch. Nada, bugger all...not a sausage. He needed a base while he took all of his coaching courses. Moyes provided him with it. That was the deal.

Ferguson impressed both Alan Irvine and Davey Moyes.
Moyes took him onto the pay roll when he replaced his mate Since then Ferguson's coaching ability has impressed manager after manager. All on Moshiri's watch - Not Kenwrights,

I don't despise you Don. I don't even know you. I do however despise the never ending stream of ignorance you pour all over these pages. The fact that you think Kenwright has any loyalty to these ex players tells me you believe he has a nice loyal side to him. You seem to have a secret admiration for him.

If you REALLY knew your history. You would know that when Kenwright had the opportunity to Knife Ferguson in the back for a quick buck, He had no hesitation in taking it. Such was his duplicity, he knew Big Dunc was a Newcastle player before the Big fella knew himself. Dear Walter Smith wasnt spared the underhanded nature of that deal either.

In your desperation to undermine these true Evertonians who work in the lower ranks of the club. You rather ironically portray Kenwright as some sort sweet heart "Uncle Bill" who is loyal to the bone towards his family. You could not be further from the truth. They are here because they came at the right price - fuck all in some cases.

I happen to know somebody who is on the inside of this debate. No I will reveal his name and although I have no idea what goes on, on a day to day basis... I know a lot more than you do.
These guys work for the club because they love it. If they wanted to earn more money they could probably do it by taking a fucking HGV class 1 course. The fact that ignorant fools want to point the finger at them whilst happy clapping the free loading twats who squandered the 700m makes me want to vomit

"Sweet Uncle Bill looking after his boys " Fuck me.

Whats it going to take ?

Robert Tressell
76 Posted 29/10/2021 at 08:07:15
For me, the academy is one aspect of the club we can aspire to be truly world class. Making sure that the club represents our community (and extended community of the British Isles) could give us a sense of purpose we haven't had in many years.
Danny O’Neill
77 Posted 29/10/2021 at 08:14:03
My view is that the U23s is just not the right model. It is effectively keeping players in their early 20s in youth football.

Simultaneously, it presents a void for professionals coming back from injury or not getting regular first team football as there is no "reserve" team. Call them prima donnas by all means, but who wants to play with the kids behind locked doors on a training pitch? There is an air gap between the first team.

The Central League concept I kind of get with the points made. A place where young potential could play alongside seasoned professionals. But still not a competitive league in the way I would consider at professional level. I never played that level, but I did used to go and watch. Mainly when there was news on of the first team players was coming back from injury, which would generate excitement. Goodison Park in front of a few hundred (at most - maybe one or two thousand for a reserve Derby) on a cold night was a soulless place and gave a feeling of meaningless to the match. Maybe it was my age and I wasn't watching the young players then, but the Central League always seemed to be used as a route back to the first team for injured players. Or that's how it felt. No-one really cared for the results, just as I don't for the U23s now. I'm watching players and performances.

The difference between the two? In my memory, Central League placed more emphasis on the genuine reserves with a few bright kids coming through introduced. The U23s is an extension of the youth set up. But neither were competitive football in the true sense. Now, before I get lynched, every game of football I played at every level I got to was played competitively. I mean competitive meaningful leagues. Not behind locked doors on a training pitch at Finch Farm or an empty therefore effectively locked doors Goodison Park, with the result pretty meaningless for different reasons. They have a feel of training matches. All about opinion I suppose.

So without going off on one and repeating myself too much from previous posts, that's why I continuously advocate either the B Team or Feeder Club model ("adopt a club"). A mix of reserves and young players in the same team but playing in the football league, in front of crowds, against professional teams with promotion and relegation a reality. And featuring in the League and FA Cups.

And restructure the league system at the same time. Effectively 5 leagues of professional teams fighting for a slice of the pie is too many. Reduce to 3 and go regional, even semi-pro after that. That may sound harsh to a lot of clubs, but I think it would actually help a lot of them survive to chase the dream better as there is still a pyramid through which they can progress. I don't want to see another Bury. And Hartlepool v Exeter on a Monday night is just ridiculous.

Please don't confuse this as being dismissive of the academy. That is still hugely important. I would just have a cut off after U18s where players then progress into the B / Feeder Club team.

Another thought. Don't take young players on as full time Everton until 14? Leave them in their natural environments but monitor. Even adopt local clubs as satellites and send coaching staff to help out. Occasionally pull in players to represent "an" Everton team. Watford used to do this in the area I live. The boys played for the local club but it was kind of sponsored by Watford (without being called Watford). The coaches would come down to run sessions and players would get picked to go a play in Watford colours. But they remained with their local club playing in local leagues at a weekend. Just a thought on how the clubs could help out improving grass roots, without hoovering everyone up and locking them behind the gates at a tender age. Let them develop naturally.

Tony Everan
78 Posted 29/10/2021 at 09:04:34
In the last ten years Chelsea have had 29 players come through their academy and played for the first team.

Sorry It's the Daily Star so may not be totally accurate

The 29 players to graduate from Chelsea's academy to first-team and what happened next

It's fair to ask why we aren't reaping a better harvest from our set up. Questions need to be asked about our recruitment and scouting of young talent. Can we make more young signings like Chelsea and send them on loan? Or even follow their model at a reduced level? They seem to have a production line of talent coming through and or farmed out throughput Europe. They are playing within the rules, so why can't we do it? Done well, it is cost effective or even profitable.

It may be construed as lazy or alternatively as a practical strategy. But sometimes instead of thinking about things from scratch, just copy what the best model is. Chelsea just spring to my mind as I am jealous of them producing Reece James, Mason Mount and numerous others.

Copy their model and system and stamp our own improvements on it to try and get further advantage.

Change and improvement is needed. I think the difference between the clubs is with our U23s we “hope” and with the likes of Chelsea they “expect”. It's what I want to feel, too.

Danny O’Neill
79 Posted 29/10/2021 at 09:16:25
Just done a quick scan on that one, Tony Everan.

In the same period, we had 17 progress to represent the first team. If we take away a single performance in a meaningless Europa League match in Cyprus and consider those who went on to play more regular or we had hopes for (still do in some cases), it's 11.

Like any kind of data analysis, it depend on the measurable and how you use the data. But over the past 10 years, it looks like 11 - 17 players. But, other than Barkley, none have established themselves. Davies maybe, but only as a squad player.

John Keating
80 Posted 29/10/2021 at 10:15:07
Danny, that's a sad statistic regarding the club.

We can't expect 2 or 3 youngsters to either come through to the first team or be sold on for good money each season but, is it not too much to expect 2 or 3 over the past 10 years??

As you say, we had Barkley but we were definitely short-changed there, for whatever reason – there is still debate.

To my mind, it would be a dereliction of duty for any business to sit back and not reassess some or all of its departments. We seem to question certain parts of the club but it appears that Finch Farm and it's "output" gets a free ride, especially when you consider this is part of the club that could potentially save us a fortune.

Dave Abrahams
81 Posted 29/10/2021 at 10:34:36
John (72),

Fair points about players playing no football at all. Nkounkou, the young French full-back, played hardly any football in the last half of last season. Maybe Michael, who keeps records of all the Acadamy games, could state how many games the French lad played last season?

He has since gone on loan to a French team when it might have been better had he stayed and given Digne a rest now and again.

Paul Hewitt
82 Posted 29/10/2021 at 11:03:42
The only way the U23s can work is by sacking all the current staff and starting again.
Michael Kenrick
83 Posted 29/10/2021 at 12:55:27
Hello Dave,

Poking the bear for me, with Nkounkou.

I show that Nkounkou played in 4 of the U23 games spread across the season (out of 24 PL2 games; no cup games because of Covid):

8 November: Everton 2 - 0 Chelsea
18 January: Everton 1 - 1 Liverpool
19 April: West Ham United 2 - 1 Everton
24 April: Everton 1 - 1 Brighton & Hove Albion

He picked up yellow cards in 3 of the 4.

In that first season as an Everton player, Nkounkou was expected to develop, first with the Under-23s and then under Ancelotti, both from a tactical point of view and learning how to play the left-back position at the top level. As such, it was anticipated that Nkounkou would spend most of the 2020-21 season playing for the U23s but his first two senior appearances suggested that his development might be further along than initially thought.

He earned the Man-of-the-Match accolade on his debut against Salford City in the League Cup and repeated the feat in the next round at Fleetwood Town where he again caught the eye with his marauding runs down the left. He capped that second game with a cheeky back-heeled assist for Moise Kean in a 5-2 win.

However, Carlo Ancelotti was clearly unimpressed, sitting him on the subs bench unused in two Premier League games after those displays. He did get to play in the dreadful home loss to Newcastle and that marked his card for the season: there followed an astounding 20 successive league and cup games spent sitting on the bench as an unused substitute.

Ancelotti rather cruelly relented in the final game of the season, when all was lost in a 5-0 hammering at Manchester City, Nkounkou finally getting on for 5 minutes at the lowest point of a very disappointing season.

4 starts (2 sub) at senior level
4 games for the U3s

That is the sum total of professional football he played all season. What a total and utterly incomprehensible waste of talent.

Steve Brown
85 Posted 29/10/2021 at 13:07:20
David @ 47, £70 million for Calvert-Lewin?

He is the second-choice striker in the England squad when fit. The first-choice striker Kane is valued at £150 million. I would value Davies at £15 million, Holgate at £10 million, Gordon at £10 million and Kenny at £5 million.

It might not be a popular view but, for me, the aim of the Academy is to develop young players to have successful careers. Ideally, it will be with us. If not, hopefully they will fetch a fee.

Jay Wood

86 Posted 29/10/2021 at 13:16:52
There is a timely piece on the BBC by Micah Richards about the vagrancies of young footballers 'making it' which dovetailes nicely with the theme of this thread.

Getting to the Top

You hear from Richards himself and three contemporaries that he lodged with as a youth footballer who didn't make it for differing reasons.

Many diverse things can impact on a player's chances of 'making it'.

Richards broke through at the start of the various big-money takeovers of City and compares the number of youth players who appeared for the first team then to the numbers today. It's got harder for academy players to 'make it' as the cheque book and foreign imports takes greater precedence.

One player explains how an injury on the first day of pre-season training did for him. It was linked to growth spurts and having one leg longer than the other that put stress on his cartilage which gave way. (Didn't Leon Osman also have one leg longer than the other and have a specially designed boot to compensate..?)

Another how he was released and told to find another club without having an agent or an idea how to go about that.

A third considers the takeovers denied him a route to the first team, but that he had a decent career elsewhere and was astute enough to maintain his education outside of football.

Timing, circumstances and opportunities are key at this age as a teenager rapidly turns from an adolescent to an adult.

Right now, I feel for Ellis Simms.

Injured on the eve of Blackpool's League One play-off final having contributed so much to getting them there having been well down the pack when he joined them on loan in January.

He evidently still isn't fit for some reason, five months on (that's another debate).

In DCL's (and Richy's) absence and Rondon struggling, the big #9 would be a perfect fit for us right now. The club, he and we would see if he could make the step up in class to play in the PL.

This is a huge missed opportunity for the lad and us. A chance to play regularly which may not come around again once our better players return.

Just one example of the vagrancies facing young players.

As for the 'debate' on the academy staff, once again it warps into absolutist fossilised opinion for some.

If David Unsworth is 'stealing a living' at Everton then it is with the approval of the Director of Football and the board who promoted him and enhanced his position earlier this summer.

Whether he is doing a good job is a legitimate discussion. It's hard to measure his 'success' at the Everton Academy without knowing if he has met his set targets, or even if he has any.

Is it to win trophies with the U-23s? If yes, success.

Is it to bring PL quality players to the first team? If yes, it's arguably a fail.

But does it necessarily follow that the failing is Unsworth's alone rather than a succession of first team managers reluctant to play 'the yoof'?

Equally, it is a stretch to claim that Unsworth deserves a shot as Everton's first team manager.

When he became caretaker manager after Koeman's departure, near enough his very first words were 'I'm ready for this.'

Some try to re-write history, but he evidently wasn't. We lost 5 of 8 games in this spell. He was 44 at the time.

If he was truly ready to assume the post of first team manager, he would have left Everton to do so by now. He is now 48 and appears to have accepted his lot as being an Academy coach with ambitions or intentions of getting mucky as a club manager.

Personally, I have no qualms with that.

Quite clearly Brands implemented an across-the-board-shift in the Academy set up this summer, lowering the medium age in each age group, fast tracking players to higher levels earlier.

We may have to wait a season or three before discovering if that bears fruit.

Kieran Kinsella
88 Posted 29/10/2021 at 15:43:13

Whether the coaching staff are ill-equipped "free loaders" or poor schmucks being paid peanuts or brought on as slave labour by skinflint Bill, the outcome would seem to be the same: the club is not investing in the best qualified and most capable men for the job. Therefore we are not producing enough quality players.

Steve Brown
89 Posted 29/10/2021 at 15:59:55

Chelsea operate a player loan system for young players where they recruit in large numbers then loan them out to get them playing time and increase their value. A few are deemed good enough for the first team, the rest are sold for profit.

It is volume talent farming to bring profit to the club.

Inside Chelsea’s youth development – turning talent into profit one player at a time

Michael Kenrick
90 Posted 29/10/2021 at 17:28:59
My impression was that we tried our best to emulate the Chelsea loan model, up until recently at least (perhaps when we admitted it wasn't really working for us):

Everton Players out on Loan:

2021-22: 5
2020-21: 14
2019-21: 15
2018-19: 19
2017-18: 15
2016-17: 14
2015-16: 9
2014-15: 7
2013-14: 9
2012-13: 3

The depressing thing is the number of loans that simply don't work. They fail for one reason or another.

Another demonstration that the players we have and can attract are simply not good enough, as Raymond Fox keeps telling us.

The Micah piece said a few times "it didn't matter how good they were". Not sure I believe it. That's what you'd expect players to say. It's never down to them, always external factors.

I bet it really, really matters how good they are.

Kevin Prytherch
91 Posted 29/10/2021 at 17:59:23
Michael 90 - so you think it’s because we loan players out to whoever will have them while Chelsea may be more targeted. I’d like to think that, if we send a player on loan, it’s with the provision that they play a set number of games. A number of our loanees seem to warm the bench and never play much. In those circumstances, surely it’s best to bring them back.
Robert Tressell
92 Posted 29/10/2021 at 18:12:30
Michael - our high volume of loans was a necessary cull of sub-standard players from our academy. These players, often in their early 20s, were never going to make it.

We have not emulated the Chelsea model - being to develop highly talented prospective first teamers in professional football in the Eredivisie or the Championship.

Our first step along this way is Simms, Gordon and Branthwaite. It's been a success with the former and patchy with the other two.

As people note / lament, reserve team football has gone.

The route to the first team is now 15 to 17 in the u18s, 17 to 19 in the u23s and then loans. That's more like the Chelsea model.

The benefit is that you can get 50 to 100 professional games before hitting the first team age about 20 to 22, which is comparable to talents coming in from lesser leagues like France and Portugal.

David Thomas
93 Posted 29/10/2021 at 18:44:53
Steve Brown 85,

So Kane – who has scored 20 or more goals in 7 consecutive seasons and is on course to be England's highest-ever international scorer – found in the summer no-one was willing to pay anything like £150 million for him... yet, by your reckoning, Calvert-Lewin, who has scored more than 20 goals in a season once, should be valued at approx £95 million???

Dave Abrahams
94 Posted 29/10/2021 at 20:50:25
Michael (83),

Thanks for looking into Nkounkou’s game time last season. As you say, “What a complete waste of the lad's talent”. And no explanation for the lad's non-appearances.

Makes you wonder whether the lad will return here next season, especially if he is getting plenty of game time with his French club.

[Not asking you to look into that, Michael!!]

Kieran Kinsella
95 Posted 29/10/2021 at 21:20:46

He's in Belgium -- Standard Liege and for the most part is starting all their league games. However, right now they're in 13th place out of 18 which is pretty bad for Liege. Not sure if he is playing well but he is playing.

Michael Kenrick
96 Posted 29/10/2021 at 21:37:52
Kevin @91,

I would agree with that but I don't know how much sway we have in terms of securing playing time; if Chelsea's players are better than ours, they will likely get played more.

Robert @92 takes that up a notch while basically binning our efforts as a 'cull'. I think that's far too much of a generalization but we may have been holding on to players longer because we thought they were better and we gave them longer contracts because we thought that would improve the chances of them staying with us if they finally made the grade, or if the players were to be sold on, then he having them on a long contract should increase their sell-on value. But, like Robert implies, in most cases, we ended up keeping them too long, sending them out on loan again and again, until finally their contracts ran out and we had to release them.

But the bottom line is that they are just not good enough.

The reason so few players have come through to the first team is because they are just not good enough.

The reason we can't sell them off for decent fees after (ideally) one loan is they are just not good enough.

The reason they stay on our generous contracts going out on loan or staying in the U23s but not progressing further is because they are just not good enough.

The reason they go out for loan after loan after loan is that they are on our books but they are just not good enough to sell on.

Changing things back to Everton Reserves and the Central League is not going to alter that brutal fact. The players we are bringing through the Academy are just not good enough.

Or it's bad coaching!!! Ah, but then in that case, the ones that leave early should really shine elsewhere... Rose? Cho? Small? There aren't many... and each case is different; one thing is for sure: they aren't all going to be good enough.

ps: Thanks, Kieran, I was just about to post that about Nkounkou.
Robert Tressell
98 Posted 29/10/2021 at 21:41:41
Michael #83, Nkounkou is a prime example of someone who will learn nothing in u23 football. He's too good for that level. His loan is probably a year too late given the limited football he played last season.

He's showed he's a very lively attacking threat on the left flank. He's also not persuaded anyone he's a Premier League quality defender.

We'll have a better idea after the loan.

Ideally we'd have a few of his type (speculative foreign imports) on the books and out on loan at any one time. The RS made £20m from the sales of foreign teenage RBs Camacho and Hoever last season (which helped them buy Jota).

We're way behind.

Kieran Kinsella
100 Posted 29/10/2021 at 22:55:19

Another thing with our loans is where we send them. I don’t think of Vitesse Arnhem as a great side or particularly think the Belgian league is strong. And in terms of player salaries, crowds and even big names the Championship has the edge. But when we’ve sent out the likes of Gordon, Dowell, Branthwaite etc we’ve heard a lot about toughening up, getting stronger etc. If you look at the Chelsea players it’s reasonable to assume the focus on Belgium and Holland is more in technique and skill. So the diminutive Mason Mount types hone their skills rather than getting beat up by old school center halves.

Danny O’Neill
101 Posted 29/10/2021 at 23:23:28
Well said Kieran. We don't need to "toughen them up". We want them to improve as footballers.

Jay (BRZ) @86. That's confused me about Unsworth. I too thought he'd be promoted or had his status elevated to oversee all things academy.

Yet he is still in the dugout seemingly as manager of the U23s.

Rather than leaving that to someone else and having a more strategic view of the academy?

Kieran Kinsella
102 Posted 30/10/2021 at 01:14:02

Yeah I think we get a bit caught up in the physicality. Clearly we have physically strong and fast guys like Kante and Viera. But at the same the Silva’s, Zola’s, Salah’s — not exactly Frank Bruno types — prosper because they have real skill

Steve Brown
103 Posted 30/10/2021 at 07:08:04
Yes correct Dave, and if we ask for anything less then it's proof we continue to be as dumb commercially as we have been for the last 5 years.

The market dictates the price and £73 million for Jadon Sancho as a squad rotation player means we should expect a minimum of £95-100 million for a player who scores 15-20 premier league goals a season.

Darren Hind
104 Posted 30/10/2021 at 07:08:38
Michael K Kinda nails this.

The argument should not be about why players who are'nt good enough don't progress to playing in the EPL. The argument should be about why we cant attract the players who are.

The premier league attracts players from all over the world. It has never been as difficult for a young English boy to play top flight football in his own country.
We are already behind the cue ball when trying to attract top youngsters by virtue of the fact that we live within 25 twenty miles of three of the biggest attractions on the planet.

People like Carlo and Davide Ancelotti have been glowing in their praise for the quality of the FF staff. Whatever you think of those two, you cant deny they have been around. They will recognise quality.
Our junior coaches are highly qualified, highly motivated, passionate Evertonians who love the club so much, they would walk over broken glass to see a top class youngster arrive FF. Yet every day I hear this ignorant, ignorant criticism, from people who have no knowledge of what they do and only recognise them as a stick with which to beat Uncle Bill.... I find it disgusting

There is a buzz around Liverpool when a top talent emerges. Half the city knows about him. The football community know a decent player is coming long before he actually arrives. When was the last time you heard that buzz ? When was the last time you heard one of our youngsters being discussed in the ale house, or the barbers ?

Blaming the coaches for not delivering top players is like blaming the chef for the quality of his omelettes...even though you know that the eggs didnt arrive that morning.

The argument of the FF critic always unravels the minute you ask him to name a player who should have made it,

Danny O’Neill
105 Posted 30/10/2021 at 07:39:27
It's why I avoided names when I posted earlier Darren.

To put my scratched record on, there is a challenge here to fundamentally overhaul the footballing system. Starting at grass roots. Forget Everton for a moment, England as a nation lags behind other nations in youth development. Some will point to recent "success", but the reality is, it's all still a bit hit and hope that a generation will come along in comparison to the major European nations and even the likes of Holland, Belgium and Denmark, who have a consistent programme.

And those who know or read my ramblings know that I care little for the England football team. But I care for English football.

I have no doubt the talent is out there. We just still do no spot or develop it properly. It's not a Finch Farm problem whoever the coaches and staff may be. It's below that. The clubs and the FA can play a part here. But it goes beyond ring-fencing the best players at 10 years old in the academies and taking them out of their natural environment to chase the dream. It goes beyond providing an FA Respect banner to put out on you dog shit infested mud pitch on the park. For a price that goes into the FA coffers for the privilege of being registered.

To the subject of the post. I would scrap the U23s and introduce what I have suggested here and previously.

Sam Hoare
106 Posted 30/10/2021 at 07:45:25
I’m not sure it’s that easy to absolve the coaches of responsibility. Surely any players’ total talent is going to be a combination of their innate ability and the things that they have learned or been coached? Clearly there have been some reasonable raw materials such as when Everton had 5 or so players involved in winning the U20 World Cup 4 years back.

If we do allow that the raw materials have not been sufficient, and this may well be the case, then surely that responsibility also falls on the academy and whoever brings in the players initially? Perhaps the club needs to change the criterion it selects kids on at the youngest levels? Or focus more resources on recruiting from different areas? Of course it’s a highly competitive business and there are better resourced clubs than us but if we want to aspire to the top level then that philosophy should run throughout the club. The Academy for whatever reason has not been producing enough effective players for the first team and that, like most operations at the club, needs improving.

Graham Mockford
107 Posted 30/10/2021 at 08:20:25

Let’s ignore the volte face of claiming the Academy has produced hundreds of millions of talent and has kept the club afloat to your latest post where in the space of a couple of days you accept we are not attracting and developing young players.

The answer to the question posed in the original thread is a simple one. Produce high quality players who can play for the first team or can generate significant transfer values.

Any strategy to do so will have a multitude of facets to be successful.

An effective scouting network

Good recruitment. Do we pay enough, are our facilities to scratch, do we have a good reputation for treating youngsters, do we develop the right relationships?

Retention strategies. How are the young players led and managed during their time with us. Is it a good place to be?

Football coaching. Are we developing players skills effectively, are we giving the right feedback, is there an understood footballing philosophy, is physical development being managed correctly?

Personal development. Are there opportunities to personally develop outside of football, is there mentoring and support, are educational issues managed correctly

Transition planning. How do players make the huge leap from U23 to first team. What loans are beneficial, how much game time is best, managing expectations.

I’m sure there’s other elements but I’ve just written a strategy on the hoof.

So blaming the coaches is clearly ridiculous because for a strategy to work all the component parts must come together. However that’s not to say that the coaching is good enough, we simply don’t know.

That is why you have accountability in an organisation. Someone ultimately has to be responsible for the overall plan and if individual parts of the plan are not working they have the ability to do something about it and importantly judged on its success.

My view is that development of young players to the first team squarely sits with two people. The Director of Football and the Academy Director.

Danny O’Neill
108 Posted 30/10/2021 at 09:01:28
I like that Graham @107. If I put my German hat on again, you, and others may note that a lot of German clubs have the title "SV" rather than FC. SV stands for Sport Verein; Sports Club. As well as the football team the one I played for had associated Tennis, Athletics, Handball (big in Germany), Swimming & Water Polo.

So they can re-direct youngsters to somewhere more appropriate to their skills or ability rather than chin them off because they're not good at a particular sport. Likewise, education and recognising that some are better suited for coaching or management at an early age. Just look at the track record of recent successful German coaches.

Nagelsmann (Bayern Munich). 34 years old having just managed a very successful RB Leipzig.

Klopp: Yes. Sorry. 54 years old but look what he's achieved in the game over the past decade and been managing since he was 34.

Rose: Current manager of Dortmund having left in the summer from Monchengladbach. 45 years old but managing now for 10 years.

Tuchel: Still only 48. Has been head coach at Dortmund, PSG and now Chelsea. Was mentored by Rangnick at an early age and has coached at youth level. Went into coaching at a very young age. First serious managerial appointment aged 35, although he ran a "B" team prior to that.

The interesting point on those 4? Three of them managed Mainz as their first big gig. Who is the current manager of Mainz? Keep tracks on him!!

While I was at it, I thought I'd look up a few other things. I note for all the investment, since 1998, City have only really produced a few of significance. Sean Wright-Phillips, Joey Barton, Stephen Ireland (?), Daniel Porridge, Kasper Schmeical & of course young Foden, who looks to be a genuine star. Only about half of their current squad have St George's crosses against their name, the rest are foreign. They also have 33 (no less) young players out on loan. Of those 33, only 6 are English. If you want to go UK, there is a Scot and a Welshman. Oh, and one from the Republic. The rest are from foreign climes. 9 out of 33 from these shores.

So to my poorly beaten drum. Developing local talent? Not until we fix the grass roots that feeds the academies. Until we do, clubs will look elsewhere. Wenger set that precedent and I remember our cousins doing something similar in the 90s / 2000s.

Darren Hind
109 Posted 30/10/2021 at 09:12:54
I don't believe anybody should be absolved or not held to account and if there was any evidence whatsoever that have let players go who should have made it. I would be the first in line to question them but there isn't. The incessant criticism is done in total ignorance by people who have never seen them work. I do believe the club kinda accepts its position as the fourth most attractive prospect in the area. We simply don't do enough to pull in the really top talent.

I thought my eldest lad was going to play proffessional football. He was invited to play for all the right teams as a schoolboy. It wasnt to be. Eventually we had to accept he wasnt quite good enough. but I remember one lad playing up front for them. one of my mates nudged me. nodded in his direction and asked "Have you seen this fella yet ?" I hadn't.
This kid didn't touch the ball for the first 20 minutes, in fact my lad was playing better than him. Then the ball came to him on the edge of the box. Bang. left foot...it was in the net, He did it three more times bang, bang, bang. I had never seen anybody strike a ball as truly. He was incredible. We met his arl fella later. He was a passionate blue. I went home convinced I had just seen Evertons future striker.

As my lad dropped out of the elite scene. I saw less of these games. The next time I heard of Robbie Fowler. he had signed for the RS. I was gobsmacked...How could this be ?
Years later I got my answer. The shite were miles ahead of us. While we sat around waiting for the players to sign for us. They were aggressively pursuing them and I don't mean sending a scruffy scout around with a tatty piece of paper and a pen. They were sending out the big guns. A guy considered by many to have been one of their best ever players. Made an appointment with Fowler's arl fella. Drove around to his house. Spent the afternoon talking about their plans for the boy.Then whisked them around the training ground and introduced him to the first team players. They coudnt sign quick enough.

The same thing happened to a lad from Kirkdale. "Stevie Mac" He of the shaggy hair had already been earmarked as a "certainty" when he was still playing with his mates Another Evertonian. Soon it began to sound like a Queen song - And another ones gone and another ones gone. Another one bites the dust. Only years later when I was reading something Fowler wrote, did it make sense to me.
We've been playing catch up ever since.
I remain convinced that Rooney would have gone the same way if the RS could have wormed their way passed his fanatical blue families front door and into their living room. Being at a club as a schoolboy means nothing.

I hear so many theories, reasons, excuses for why we have fallen so far behind our rivals, in just about every way, but if I had to sum it up in one word. That word would be inertia.

As a footnote - I saw Roy Evans at the airport in the early hours of one morning. The place was like a morgue. So went to chat to him. during the conversation. I asked him who coached Fowler when he was scoring all those goals. He just burst out laughing and said "What ? do you think we had anybody qualified enough to teach him how to take up all those positions ?"

Darren Hind
110 Posted 30/10/2021 at 09:19:24
No Volte face here Mockers.

We are not attracting top players to sign their first professional contracts with us. We have had to rely on spotting those who have slipped through the net of the big boys and brought them into our academy.
Stones, DCL + Holgate all fall into that category. That right there would represent a conservative estimate of around 150m.

Unsworth can only recommend players - as he did with DCL etc and although Brands has not covered himself in Glory with his signings since he got here. He has only been here a few short years....Our problem of producing top class players as been apparent for a lot longer than that

Graham Mockford
111 Posted 30/10/2021 at 09:21:04

You do what you accuse others of.

Its not the coaches it’s the recruitment. You simply don’t know this even though you may be right. Nice story but of course the plural of anecdote is not data.

Ultimately it’s about outcomes. If the outcomes are not the right ones, the responsibility sits with those accountable. Brands and Unsworth.

Graham Mockford
112 Posted 30/10/2021 at 09:26:58
Stones, DCL and Holgate are a different issue. That’s not development and really has little to do with Academy as you seem to accept.

Recruiting teenagers with potential from lower league definitely has a place, it’s certainly been more productive for us in recent years.

What should be worrying us is that a player we developed and wanted to keep has decided he’s better off at Southampton.

Darren Hind
113 Posted 30/10/2021 at 09:37:41
I don't accept that at all. all three players were signed for our academy. to be developed. That they made it to the first team so quickly tells you everything about the quality we have. In two cases. the first team manager didnt even want them.

If the players don't come through your door, You have to go and get the ones who have slipped through everybody's net if you spot playing in lower divisions.

Thats what we did in all three cases.

Good point you raise about the boy who went to Southampton, but the guy thinks he has a better chance of playing first team football there.

We`ll have to wait and see if he`s right

Danny O’Neill
114 Posted 30/10/2021 at 09:47:19
Yes, apparently the manager of the day took some convincing that Stones was good enough.

I suppose you can never tell, but from his (Small's) perspective, could he realistically see himself dislodging Digne anytime soon?

And then, although out on loan right now, Nkounkou in front of him too?

Like you say. Time will tell. I don't want to slate the lad of getting ahead of himself, but maybe him and his advisor believed he had a better chance elsewhere of getting an opportunity earlier.

Dave Abrahams
115 Posted 30/10/2021 at 09:49:12
Graham (112), I honestly think that Everton did all they could do to keep Small here, although obviously I don’t know the terms he was offered.

It seems that Small considered himself ready for first team football now!! Or somebody put it into his head that he was, or maybe Southampton offered him a fabulous deal to entice him away.

The lad is a good young footballer with plenty of potential but if you saw him a few times in the youth team there was nothing extraordinary about him, going forward he looked very good, defending he was pretty poor and he certainly wasn’t the best player in the team.

It will be interesting to see how he progresses.

Graham Mockford
116 Posted 30/10/2021 at 09:53:39
I suspect all three were recruited with a view to first team football. Six months in the U23s seen as a means of orientating them. That they all made debuts very quickly would support that.

However those responsible for spotting, attracting and recruiting them definitely deserve credit. The development and coaching team had very little to do with it.

Attracting players from other Academies who are more fully formed has a place. There is a smaller pool to fish in, it requires transfer fees usually but has less risk.

Ultimately it’s not an either or, we will do both. There is pretty clear evidence in the first part of developing Academy players we are failing somewhere.

Ian Horan
117 Posted 30/10/2021 at 09:56:49
I have limited my input on TW so far this season mainly due to catcalling and the disrespect shown to people who have a differing of opinion, very seldom do we have hard facts on most things Everton. With regards the merits of the u23s it all boils down to what the club are expectant of their out put. Maybe ask the club for their individual business plan for each entity?. I seem to recall that Brands identified the older unlikely to kick on players and showed them the door, Penningtons of this world etc. Brand had stated that his model similar to the European model needs the acadamy players to play up a year or two. A bit late in the day since he joined but at least the u23s has a more youthfulLook. Similarly the u19s and so on. As I started we all have opinions but those that proport their opinions are more important than others or pushes them as facts it only shows their own insecurities and ignorance
Colin Glassar
118 Posted 30/10/2021 at 09:58:30
Both Guardiola and Arteta have said they have several young academy players ready to break into the first team. Chelsea have already started as have others.

Benitez has said players like Onyango and Dobbin aren't ready yet (and probably never will be). Let's face up to facts; we aren't producing youngsters to challenge for first-team spots.

Robert Tressell
119 Posted 30/10/2021 at 10:22:58
Various points :

- This thread prompted me to look at the ethos etc of the Ajax Academy. It's really illuminating. When I have a bit of time, I'll share some observations about it but, in short, it is geared up for kids within a 35-km radius, aim to produce 3 for the first team every 2 years, and give them opportunities by buying players only where they can't find a suitable player from the academy.

- As Kieran says, experience of sophisticated football is better than simply toughening up. So the Eredivisie might be better (for some) than the lower leagues. As much as on the pitch it requires players to grow up. We expect so little of local lads compared with teenage counterparts from Africa, South America and Europe.

- Other clubs buy in a high volume of youth and trade them like commodities. Liverpool made £20M from foreign teenage right-backs last season, allowing them to buy Jota.

- Our coaching is probably not as bad as some believe... but our play is far from stylish or consistent at academy level if the U23s are anything to go by. We should aspire to be so much better.

- All clubs have got long lists of near misses (like Dowell), ones that go off the rails (like Baxter), and those who they may have preferred to keep (like Robinson). We need to accept this and, stating the obvious, aim to produce more, higher quality.

- Repeating earlier statements, the academy is one key area of the club that doesn't require vast riches in order to compete. We should aspire to be world class in this aspect.

Graham Mockford
120 Posted 30/10/2021 at 10:43:38

Aspiring to be world class is one of those meaningless buzzwords I've heard from a hundred strategy consultants. It's meaningless because everyone can achieve it, all you need is to wish regardless of your ability to do it.

You need the right people with the right plan, the right resources and the determination to deliver it.

Academy development doesn't come for free. The best scouting, coaching, recruitment and facilities require significant investment, it's why the richer clubs are more successful.

Danny O’Neill
121 Posted 30/10/2021 at 10:49:56
I'd add Schalke's to that, Robert. The genuine top-drawer players they have produced over the years is impressive, to say the least.

Where they went wrong (in my humble opinion) is going too far down the route of using the academy as a total cash cow.

The days when they managed it well; get the academy output into the first team for a few seasons and sell on at profit in the knowledge the next best thing was coming along, were taken over.

Maybe through their own greed or through being exploited by other clubs and agents. But kids and young players were getting snapped up at 14 by other clubs or running down their first professional contract to the point they went on a free or minimal fee. Get a reputation and the hawks start circling.

Now in the 2nd tier of German football only 3 seasons after last appearing in the European Champions League, they rely on their very impressive academy more than ever. And for those privileged enough to see it first hand, it is impressive. As is Ajax's. I've been fortunate enough to see both.

But they'll bounce back. Schalke promotion and Everton European qualification this season.

Paul Tran
122 Posted 30/10/2021 at 11:53:33
Darren #109, interesting story that backs up my view on various threads that something internal is stopping us succeeding.

Young players get a chance at Everton when they're good enough. Fewer (if any!) superstars to compete against.

Inertia only keeps happening in poorly-run businesses. We can't find the young players? How about changing what we do, or who does it?

Not at Everton. We are Everton. We're different. We just need more money, or even more money, or yet more money, or a random coach with magic beans.

Or maybe people running the club that actually take action and put the right culture and structures in place?

Robert Tressell
123 Posted 30/10/2021 at 12:24:05
Graham # 120, fair enough. But we can afford a world class academy. We can't afford ready made world class players. So it's worth the investment.

And even if people want to quibble about how far we move the dial, I expect everyone will broadly agree that it's worth investing in better than what we've got

Michael Kenrick
124 Posted 30/10/2021 at 12:35:06
Colin @118,

I think it's worth memorializing the words of Rafa on the subject of putting in young players like Onyango:

"It would be easy for me to talk about young players and bring young players in. If you lose one game, I could put in three young players, the fans would say 'oh fantastic'.

"But you have to manage a team with your experience. I was in the academy at Real Madrid and in charge of a lot of academies at different clubs, so I know what it means to be a young player going to the first-team.

"Some of them are physically and mentally ready and some need more time. At the same time, when you are losing games it is not the time to change everything, because maybe it will be worse for the young player.

"He is a lad that has been injured for three or four months, he has the potential. He has to keep training with his team, keep playing games with his team and training with the first team sometimes and we will decide when he is ready.

"If you want a clear answer if he is ready? I think it is still a little bit early for him but he has the potential, yes, and we want to manage his potential and not send him in too early and then people could say 'he's not as good' so it is important we give him the chance when he is fully ready. I don't want to send the player in too early if it's not necessary."

Largely predictable common knowledge summarizing the conservative position of football professionals in the biz. In short: fans know nothing.

Dave Abrahams
125 Posted 30/10/2021 at 12:52:41
Robert (123), yes we can afford the academy and from players sales coming from the academy it more than pays for itself.

As for the academy itself surely the facilities there are as good or better than most academies in Europe, going by the praise it gets and maybe there is already a change of thought going on in regards to how is being run from now on with lots of younger players now playing for the U18’s and U23’s this season and with Benitez putting in how everything at the club needs to improve by 10% we will start moving forward and change the small club mentality ( who said that? ) that has prevailed so long at Everton FC.

Danny O’Neill
127 Posted 30/10/2021 at 13:11:43
Dave, I'd say that the facilities at Finch Farm are on a par with those I've seen at the 2 academies I've mentioned and they are 2 of Europe's finest. The only thing missing, which we'll never have, is that both Ajax and Schalke's academies train and play in the shadow of the stadium. Fantastic setup and incentive for the young players.

I think what you say. Change the mentality of this club of ours. From the youth teams up.

Graham Mockford
128 Posted 30/10/2021 at 13:31:40

I don’t think anyone would seriously argue in investing in youth development as a philosophy.

But to become ‘world class’ is not a simple thing. You are competing with an awful lot of well resourced and well managed clubs.

It ultimately starts with the personnel, and that is Brands and Unsworth. It’s too early to see the fruits of his efforts and he’s kept Unsworth in position so he must have some faith. What we can tell that in the previous ten years other than some decent acquisitions of promising teenagers we’ve developed very little other than Barkley.

Not sure you could make a case that any investment made in that time has shown a decent return.

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