Should Rafa Turn To Youth To Turn Around Everton’s Fortunes?

by   |   17/12/2021  0 Comments  [Jump to last]

Rafa Benitez is under ever-increasing pressure as Everton boss, with the Toffees succumbing to their eighth defeat of the season at the hands of Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace at the weekend. One thing you can credit Vieira and Palace with is getting the blend of youth and experience right, which begs the question as to whether Benitez could turn to his younger players to knock Everton out of their malaise.

Only two players – Ben Godfrey, arguably Everton’s best player against Palace, and Richarlison, started in their 3-1 reverse who were under the age of twenty-five. And, for a club that is recognised for producing the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley, could the time be right to bring players with that trademark youthful exuberance into the equation?

Let’s not forget, a lot of money is being pumped into the sport at grassroots level. There are huge entities like Entain, who own prominent gaming brands including PartyCasino, that are extremely committed to this area of the game. And with Marcel Brands having now departed, the shift in direction towards looking within for talent could be the best route forward.

On the bench at Selhurst Park, Benitez had Jarrad Branthwaite, who has recently penned a new deal, Jonjoe Kenny, Tyler Onyango, Anthony Gordon and Ellis Simms, who are all twenty-four and under. Gordon, alongside goalscorer Salomon Rondon, entered the fray in the 58th minute to attempt to change the course of the proceedings, but with tough games to come against Chelsea and Leicester, could the time be right to hand starts to the likes of Gordon in place of the club’s faltering older pros?

Gordon, 20, who has come through the Everton youth ranks, has made fourteen senior appearances for the club this season, with six starts registered in the Premier League. He’s comfortable operating on either flank as a winger, injecting a bit of quickness into the team when he’s on the pitch.

Questions are often asked of Everton’s backline, which has only managed to collect three clean sheets so far in the league. With that in mind, and after the impressive performances from 23-year-old Ben Godfrey, could the time be right to give opportunities for the likes of Jonjoe Kenny and Jarrad Branthwaite to impress?

Kenny, 24, is the player many tipped to be club stalwart Seamus Coleman’s replacement. He’s made fifty-one appearances for The Toffees, but for the most part, has found himself out on loan at various clubs, including Celtic, Shalke, Oxford United and Wigan.

Coleman is now thirty-three, and while many will describe him as being dependable, he’s not the player of old. And with more Premier League wingers having pace to burn and a bag of tricks to go with it, could Kenny’s integration be something to think about?

Benitez certainly has a lot to think about, as he plots to get Everton through a sticky spell where they have lost seven of their last nine Premier League outings, with rumblings about him being removed starting earlier this month. He does have options, and one of them is to turn to the younger players in his squad, but could it all prove to be too little too late?

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