Young Blues dumped out of FA Youth Cup

09/01/2023 39comments  |  Jump to last
Watford U18s 3 - 1 Everton U18s

Everton U18s came unstuck against Watford in the 4th Round of the FA Youth cup, losing 3-1 at Vicarage Road on Monday night. 

The Blues had gone behind early in the first half after a  scrappy start,  a stunning volley giving Seb Jensen absolutely no chance in the Everton goal.

Everton pressed hard after that, Serif spurning a glorious chance after he was put through with a perfectly weighted pass to feet from Okoronkwo following a great run but he smashed the shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat. 

But after the break, Martin Sherif scored a lovely goal for the Young Blues to draw level. From a corner, Okoronkwo headed it back across the goal where Sherif spun to lash a powerful shot past the Watford keeper.

Article continues below video content

But minutes later, Watford regained the lead from a free-kick and went further ahead when Samuels-Smith deflected a weak shot past Jensen to give the Hornets victory.

Jensen pulled off a fine save to stop a great strike going into the top corner, pushing it onto the bar. 

Everton U18s: Jensen, Dixon/Quintyne, Butler, Wilson, I Samuels-Smith, J Patterson [Y:45+2'], Barker (72' Beaumont-Clark), Apter (86' Heath), Sherif, Djankpata (46' Bates), Okoronkwo.

Subs: G Pickford, Wright, Jones, Smikle-James


Reader Comments (39)

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Bill Gall
1 Posted 09/01/2023 at 21:12:49
Just finished watching the Under-18s lose the FA Youth Cup game 3-1 to Watford, a little unlucky but, like the first team, lack of concentration with mistakes lost them the game.
Michael Kenrick
2 Posted 10/01/2023 at 10:43:42
Some really good moments of play from the youngsters in this one, who should have gotten more from the game:

Danny O’Neill
3 Posted 10/01/2023 at 10:55:42
Thank's for the post, Michael. Respite from the trauma of what's going on in the wider sphere of Everton.

I don't get too concerned about results with the development teams. It should be about development.

Interesting to see Sherif's name mentioned and on the score sheet. He's getting quite a few references.

Michael Kenrick
4 Posted 10/01/2023 at 11:09:21
No doubt our resident Academy bashers can use this as further fuel for their perennial learned critique of just how badly things are done at Finch Farm, Danny.

After all, Leighton "Jobs for the Boys" Baines is in charge of this lot. There's Nepotism for ya! Does my head in how so many know just what is or isn't happening inside the hallowed walls of our training facility? But it pays to have friends in high places.

We lost, after all, so everything must be shite.

Guess you would say I'm feeling a bit raw this morning, in DannySpeak!

Danny O’Neill
5 Posted 10/01/2023 at 11:25:28
I'm still recovering, Michael. That was a long weekend.

I didn't like the way our academy was staffed, but then I don't like the academy system in the way it is set up in England.

I don't personally have issue with ex-Everton players being given coaching jobs as long as they are the right people for the job.

I get the impression Leighton could become a good coach. I never felt that about Unsworth or Ferguson. All down to personal perceptions.

I've said several times that I would love to see Leon Osman at Finch Farm. Also Steven Pienaar currently coaching the Ajax U18s.

There's no problem bringing ex-players back, just as long as it isn't jobs for the boys. They have to be to the benefit of the club and they are good coaches. Colin Harvey. Kevin Sheedy at youth level.

Anyway, I haven't watched him too much. What type of striker is Sherif?

Eddie Dunn
6 Posted 10/01/2023 at 11:27:05
There were some lovely passages of play even if the result wasn't what we wanted. I recall Rooney losing to Villa in a semi-final and Milner being on the winning side. I wonder if any of these kids will make it?
John Raftery
7 Posted 10/01/2023 at 11:29:57
Yes, any of our coaches who are former Everton players must be rubbish. Just like our first team coaches …. Who are they?

Er ….. Joe Edwards, Paul Clement, Ashley Cole and Chris Jones… oh and don't forget the goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly.

How's that going then?!

Darren Hind
8 Posted 10/01/2023 at 11:48:53

A band wagon jumped upon by people want to bash the staff Whilst freely admitting to not having a scooby what happens there.

Andrew Ellams
9 Posted 10/01/2023 at 11:54:37
Darren, I don't think anybody has actually bashed anybody here yet.

Does anybody know if the CEO's strategic review looked into the lack of younger players making the grade?

I know very few do at any top English clubs but, if it was something we could fix at Everton, it could at least go some way to driving the club forwards.

Danny O’Neill
10 Posted 10/01/2023 at 12:05:02
If that's the case, Darren, we might as well all down tools and not have a view. The silent majority.

I don't think Everton's Academy has produced considering the investment (it's not free despite the claims).

I don't think the grass roots or English Academy system is fit for purpose. One star on the England shirt dating back to 1966… Never won the Euros.

Our youth system, not just Everton's, has been broken for decades. Many will make the case that we should give our young players the chance. I can see that and encourage it more than anyone.

But in the cut-throat business of the Premier League, if the standard isn't there, clubs will, and have looked to alternative sources. Abroad.

I don't like saying that, but that's how it's been. Until we fix grass roots, it won't change.

English football wins European trophies because those teams that do are largely filled with foreign players, not home grown ones.

Robert Tressell
11 Posted 10/01/2023 at 12:39:47
I saw about 30 mins of this and thought once again that Djankpata looks a really big talent.

Robert Tressell
12 Posted 10/01/2023 at 13:46:26
Danny # 10. I'm all for giving our youth a chance but the reality is that most of our academy players aren't that good.

They prove this when they are given chance, either on loan or when released.

The only one who looked like a mistake to let go in recent times is Robinson - and even then because Digne was one of our few top players at the time so he didn't have much hope of playing time.

Many forge a decent career like Bidwell, Forshaw, Lundstram etc but most never achieve that. I remember think Anthony Evans looked a good player in the u23s but now 24 he's playing in the third tier for Bristol Rovers. Giving him a chance in the first team would not have turned him into Trevor Steven - just as Tom Davies has not become Peter Reid through getting his chance.

The ones with genuine talent get recognised at England etc youth level and usually are blooded in their teens like Jeffers, Ball, Dunne, Rooney, Barkley, Davies and Rodwell. Gordon and Branthwaite too at the end of the weird pandemic season under Ancelotti.

On that basis Samuels-Smith might be the only one in our academy system at u21 or u18 level (or on loan) to make it with us a regular.

Rob Halligan
13 Posted 10/01/2023 at 13:52:13
Michael # 4. Are you finally coming round to my way of thinking about some of the posters on this site? There are “Too many Experts” on this site, who as you say, in fact know naff all!
Phill Thompson
14 Posted 10/01/2023 at 14:46:33
I watched the game. On balance it was a fair result but disappointing, Watford’s Academy is a level below ours and on paper we should have beaten them. But they were up for it, and whenever they had the lead they defended it in numbers.

Robert#11, I thought Djankpata was poor last night and was hooked early. We improved a lot in the second half, Matthew Apter took over Djankpata’s position with sub Callum Bates playing in Apter’s previously deep role. In truth they can all play a lot better than that, particularly the midfielders.

The one who caught the eye was Roman Dixon. We’ve seen his mazy runs from right back before and he produced one outstanding one into the box but was unable to finish it. And he used his pace to stop a breakaway attack in the left back position, made the tackle and carried the ball forward. He’s always had promise, we now need to see him regularly performing at u21 level.

Dave Abrahams
15 Posted 10/01/2023 at 15:29:15
I never saw the game so can’t comment but I always take Phill’s (14) views on the game with interest and I expected a decent run from this years U 18’s squad.

Nobody is having a go at the coaches, this time, just Michael Kenrick who,as he admitted got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning, stop it Michael we know when and how to moan, just as the board says “ Give us time”.

Darren Hind
16 Posted 10/01/2023 at 17:12:19

Not suggesting anybody should down tools and not speak about subjects they have some knowledge of.

I am wondering why people post on topics which, by their own admission, they know nothing about. It seems to me they are posting for the sake of it.

You broaden it out and criticise grass roots coaching in England. Yet you are always saying how great grass roots training is in Germany.

Grass routs training is at club level and its worth pointing out that if you take super rich Bayern Munich out of the equation. The City of Nottingham has won as many major European trophies as all the clubs Germany.

International football has more to do with national pride and character than what the players were taught in their youth.

I only ever hear praise from people who have worked with Unsworth and Ferguson. Yet strangely enough. I only ever criticsm I hear about them is on here, from the very people who admit they don't know what there roles were and what happens at FF.

Opinion based on nothing...Or a tiny band wagon made up of people who feed off each others finger-in-the-air guesswork ?

I guess its a bit of both.

Chris Leyland
17 Posted 10/01/2023 at 17:45:47
I don't profess to know what goes on at Finch Farm but I do see what happens every week on the pitch in the Premier League. This suggests to me that whatever happens at the training ground at any level may not be working.

This includes the development sides as we haven't exactly had a conveyor belt of talent coming through have we? Surely that is the point of having all the development teams, isn't it or what other purpose do they serve other than selling players on at a profit and to do that they have to be talented?

Where are the regular first-team squad players produced from these systems? I don't count the likes of Calvert-Lewin, Stones or Holgate as all of them had made professional debuts before we signed them. Indeed, the club itself doesn't count them either as an article on the official website from May 2020 lists the 50 academy graduates who have gone on to play professionally.

The only first-team squad current regulars are Anthony Gordon and Tom Davies. In the last 20 years, the only other notable ones listed are Ross Barley, Jack Rodwell, Shane Duffy and Jonjoe Kenny. Anichebe and Vaughan too if you are being charitable.

This isn't a criticism of Unsworth and Dunc as individuals as I don't know how much decision-making these two had but it is a critisim of what goes on at Finch Farm as a whole. Maybe it's actually really good there but we are just incredibly unlucky and what goes on doesn't translate through from off those training pitches?

Danny O’Neill
18 Posted 10/01/2023 at 17:50:23
I do criticise grass roots football in England Darren, but only because I want it to be better. And I've experienced it as a young player and as a coach as I'm sure you have.

I do cite German grass roots because it is better. I've experienced it as a child and an adult. It is geared towards feeding the national system from grass roots up. It's why they wear four World Cup stars to our one. Three Euro Championships to our zero.

Not sure where you got those Nottingham statistics from. I think Forest have 3 European trophies. A great achievement - better than ours, which I respect.

Bayern alone has 6 European Cups / Champion's league wins and been runners up 5 times along with a UEFA cup win.

I don't claim to know the inner knowledge Darren, I just voice opinion. In reality most of us don't know the reality of the goings on, we just comment on what we see and think. Football and life in general.

James Hughes
19 Posted 10/01/2023 at 18:35:29
Darren, #16 I thought that was the whole point of this website, people posting for the sake of it and sharing opinions.

Can I just check, do we all need a verified source before we post anything? Nnot often I disagree with your posts but that one is plain stupid.

Tony Abrahams
20 Posted 10/01/2023 at 18:59:04
Something I’ve been thinking about lately, is that the younger the children, that our club are now allowed to take in, the less players we are bringing through. It might go in cycles, but there seemed to be more aggression in the younger players of yesteryear, and my own feelings are that instead of playing grassroots, the kids are playing on carpets, and getting their natural aggression coached out of them?

Coaching 8 year old kids? Give them a few little pointers by all means, but just let them be kids.

Peter Neilson
21 Posted 10/01/2023 at 19:29:08
Less than 1% of kids who join academies will go on to get a professional contract at any level. Maybe surprisingly (I was) as of 2021-22 we were joint third with Spurs (and after Man Utd and Chelsea) for numbers of ex-academy playing league football.

But our ex-academy players are predominantly in Leagues One and Two. We had more in those two divisions than any other club. We're developing players but maybe not at the level we need for the squad or sale value. I've no idea if this is down to coaching, talent or both.

Darren Hind
22 Posted 10/01/2023 at 19:33:57
I think its convenient to leave Holgate Stones and DCL out of the equation simply because, as young lads they broke through at lower division side. The people who run our academy were not getting the standard of player required So the went out and brought their own in .How can they be criticised for that ? Moyes had to have his arm twisted up his back to sign Stones.

I also think its legitimate to look at performances of the first team and ask what is going on at FF...But that is a different thing all together.

Koeman, Silva, Allardyce, Ancelotti Benetiz and Frank have all brought in their own coaching staff a - At great expense. and they have all brought in players they thought would improve the squad.

600m to achieve ugly duckling status ? That has nothing to do with the board ?. I think those questions really do need to be asked, but we don't ask them. We apologise for those free lading fuckers and point fingers at the academy instead ?

When a manager has spent 30m quid on a player there is no way on earth he will invite a young kid into to the first team and risk making a mug of himself. He will persist with the mug he bought and sent the kid out on lone.


I left Super rich Bayern out of the equation in order to give an overall view of how German clubs and their magnificent system Has failed so systematically in Europe ?...But seeing as you insisted on bringing them back into it. I'll put nation against nation. The system you call superior takes a proper spanking from English clubs. There are no comparisons to be made.

I admire the German National teams of the past. Their teams may have been mechanical and conservative, but they have shown a patriotic pride and a professionalism which hasnt existed in this country for over half a century. While we had over paid dickheads driving around in flash sports cars. They found a formula using seasoned professionals and it worked for them.

I personally think you are trying to promote a grass routes system which doesnt exist. I base that belief on the fact that as a footballing nation now shorn of stalwarts. Our German cousins have been sinking without trace for quite soem time now;


Probably not the correct way of putting it, but Danny is posting this criticism of certain individuals at FF with increasing regularity. I'm pleased to see he has admitted he has no knowledge of what goes on at our academy's.

I freely admit I have difficulty understanding the difference between people giving an opinion and commenting on stuff that, by their own admission, they have no knowledge of.

I just don't get it

Tony Abrahams
23 Posted 10/01/2023 at 19:43:51
Maybe the coaching is okay, Peter, but the standard of the league has grown massively, with players now having to be very athletic to succeed?

We had four or five Under-20 World Cup winners, plus Tom Davies, who stayed at home because he had already broken through into the first team, in our squad a few seasons ago, but none of them have really kicked on.

Calvert-Lewin was doing well before his injuries, but he was the only player that I think Everton tried to really nurture.

The game has become so fast and athletic nowadays, I don't believe that starting these 7- and 8-year-old kids in the academy is doing anything but putting stars into the eyes of most parents. I think the percentages you quote maybe answer this, Peter?

Danny O’Neill
24 Posted 10/01/2023 at 19:44:03
For the sake of it, Bayern didn't win their first European Cup until 1974 and were actually in the shadow of their city rivals 1860 Munchen and didn't even get voted into the Bundesliga when it was established as a national league in the early 1960s.

You know my views, Tony. Leave the kids in their natural environment but invest in grassroots rather than lock them behind the gates of the academy system. Go out and assist local teams with facilities and support them. But let them play without the pressure of being 8 years old living in a bubble.

Everton in Community. How about Everton in the football Community? Sponsor, fund and support local football and get the benefit both ways. I know, I'm a dreamer.

Danny O’Neill
25 Posted 10/01/2023 at 19:52:18
Darren, I read that after the event about Stones and Moyes having to be convinced.

English clubs winning in Europe, but loaded with English players? I won't even look, but not in recent years.

I agree, I talk about a grass roots system that doesn't exist. That's my point.

They are different systems. The German was is geared to feed the national team. I don't know what ours does. Clubs buy foreigners to achieve success and England celebrate a semi-final as success. Croatia, with a population as big as Wales has been as "successful" in recent years.

Tony Abrahams
26 Posted 10/01/2023 at 19:52:53
I wonder how long Calvert-Lewin, Holgate or Stones actually trained with our Under-23 side before they were promoted into the first-team squad?
Kieran Kinsella
27 Posted 10/01/2023 at 19:53:45

I remember when Sheedy was the coach of the youngsters. He said his job was to make sure as many of them had careers as professional footballers as possible. That as distinct from producing x number of Everton players.

I don't know if that was just him or the general philosophy. But if you think about it, based on their ages, these are kids who otherwise would be in school and any good teacher would likewise be doing their level best to help the kids in their class get to uni, or some skill set to set them up for adult life.

So it's understandable for Sheedy to feel that way. But, is that how the people running the club should see it?

Tony Abrahams
28 Posted 10/01/2023 at 20:02:49
Good question, Kieran. I believe that without our academy of yesteryear, Everton would have went into administration, and only for the once-in-a-lifetime talent that was Wayne Rooney, Bill Kenwright would have had to sell the club.

Our academy used to pay for itself and make money, but I'm not sure if this has been the case since Jack Rodwell was sold to Manchester City?

If this is the case, then I believe that this is something that needs looking at, but until the club gets real stability and develops a genuine plan, who is genuinely going to be looking?

Bill Gall
29 Posted 10/01/2023 at 20:04:57
Coaching is not how good you play as an individual but is how the team performs in a game playing to the coaches tactics.

I thought the young lads played well as a team and the first goal against them, if it was in the Premier League, would be one of the goals of the week. The second goal was one you see every week no matter what the level from a free kick.

The third goal was the one the coaches would be upset about with a poor pass that the Watford player intercepted and run to just outside the area and shot and it took a wicked deflection.

Overall, the young players at Everton kept their shape and the Watford players knowing who was the danger man kept him tightly marked with a backup close.

I believe that Thellwell wants all teams to play the same system from the top down so it is easier for young players to integrate to the next level. The problem at the moment is no one understands what the first team system is.

Danny O’Neill
30 Posted 10/01/2023 at 20:10:40
It makes you wonder, Kieran, if the academy system works.

It's a really good debate and we can point to some really good continental examples. In England, Man Utd and possibly Southampton have had success in recent years. Maybe Chelsea, but I can't think of many more.

The much admired Brentford scrapped theirs to adopt the B Team construct. Although I believe they have revived the academy to feed the B Team.

Tony Abrahams
31 Posted 10/01/2023 at 20:15:37
That first sentence is why kids under 12 years of age should be kept away from every aspect of coaching, imo, Bill! Let the kids run, tackle, pass, shoot, dribble, have loads of fun, play with their mates, and just enjoy playing football.

If they show good talent when they become teenagers, maybe then you can begin to concentrate on starting to teach them the tactical aspects of the game.

Darren Hind
32 Posted 10/01/2023 at 20:43:59
Danny, when I spoke about grassroots systems that don't exist, I was talking about Germany. The club sides don't threaten and the national team has been an embarrassment to football lovers all over Germany for years.

Disagreements aside, I actually knew somebody who was involved in the John Stones Saga.

Moyes knew he was a player "Better than what we have", but dithering Dave dithered. He wanted to know more about him. The scout in Barnsley (a lad who grew up on Stanley Road) but didnt even work for Everton said "Look. I'm a scout not a fucking spy!"

Stones improved. One day he was so brilliant Moyes got the call. "If you don't sign this lad now. Every club in the country will be in for him". The junior coaches badgered Moyes to "Just get it done!"

Finally, after several days, a call was put in to Barnsley. They were cash-strapped and had made it clear that they would accept £1M and would be very reasonable about add-ons... Hurray. At last.

An offer was submitted to Barnsley, but it was so derisory, the phone was hung up. Thankfully another more respectful offer was later submitted and the rest is history.

Moyes brought in some incredible bargains, in fairness, it was his strength. Maybe his only one. He couldn't half spot them....but you can't help wondering how many got away while he paced up and down trying to justify his judgement to himself.

Danny O’Neill
33 Posted 10/01/2023 at 22:10:19
Sums up what I had been led to believe on Stones, Darren.

I agree on Moyes's strength in spotting a good bargain. He didn't seem to be good at marque signings but we'd have to do the analytics on that.

We'll disagree on Germany. I played in the system for a few years and their success speaks for itself. Superior to ours in my opinion. And, just for discussion, what I liked about it was that a lot of the clubs were and still are "Sport Verein" (Sport Club). SV Hamburg (Sport Verein Hamburg).

At local level, they tend to have football, tennis, handball, waterpolo and swimming all under the same club.

It was quite common that if a kid wasn't considered good enough at football, they would channel them into one of the other areas of the club but keep them active in sport and not discard them.

Peter Mills
34 Posted 11/01/2023 at 15:14:03
Tony #31.

I spent a day earlier this week with an old pal who has been coaching kids for 40 years in the USA.

His advice:- “Keep them away from big academies, let them have fun, run around, mess about, make sure they do other stuff apart from footy. I've seen so many 19-20 years who hate the game because it's all they've ever known.”

Seems to back you up.

Andrew Ellams
35 Posted 11/01/2023 at 15:31:55
Is the Academy league system any better than the old Central League when the best youngsters played against experienced professionals on a regular basis instead of just players in and round their own levels?
Jim Lloyd
36 Posted 11/01/2023 at 15:50:35
Good post, Darren. You wonder if it was Moyes's reluctance to get his wallet out, or if even then we didn't have two pennies to rub together.

I remember the story of John O'Leary, grew up in Kirkby, played amateur football and was a brilliant, brilliant footballer. He was called Mr Magic of Merseyside by the England centre-half, Jackie Charlton.

Well, John worked in Otis elevators with a mate and I got to know him when I worked there. He came training with us at the Victoria Settlement on Netherfield Road. He also came for a pint with us afterwards. What a great footballer!

What my mate told us about John was that, when he was at Spurs, some coach tried to tell him "how to pass a ball!" John told the bloke to fuck off, trying to tell him how to pass a ball! He then left professional football.

So he'd rather enjoy his time in amateur football than put up with the regimentation of the professional game. A sad loss to the top class game.

I wonder how many kids the Academy system bores the life out of?

Tony Abrahams
37 Posted 11/01/2023 at 16:21:24
I don't know for sure, but I've heard that it's around the age of 15 that a lot of young kids begin to hate playing football nowadays, Peter.

It makes sense, the kids of today start at a very, very young age, and sadly for many, football just ends up being a chore.

Danny O’Neill
38 Posted 11/01/2023 at 16:33:14
I'd agree with that Tony. You used to lose a lot around the age of 14.

I can only talk from personal experience, but there were generally two dynamics.

We would get scouts from Watford and Brentford mostly; on one occasion one player got invited to Tottenham. In that scenario. One actually played quite a few games for Watford (in reality one of their satellite teams). But once spat out of the system, they lost the faith. Chasing the dream that never came.

The other were those who were decent players but got fed up because they were considered too small or not quick enough. Standing in the rain on the side of a muddy pitch that I walk my dogs on to get 10 minutes at best. They lost interest.

I still watch when I get the chance, although I gave up coaching a few years ago as it was just frustrating me listening to some of the "encouragement" coming from the "experts" on the sidelines.

Tony Abrahams
39 Posted 11/01/2023 at 17:25:01
I’ve just picked my twins up from school and got talking to a little girls grandad. His granddaughter loves football, but because she was used to playing with the boys, she found her girls team a lot harder, because some of the girls were not very good. She decided to leave, but the team have decided to keep hold of her registration, and this means she can’t play for any other team right now. (Great intention this! - It absolutely stinks)

Anyway the girls mother is from Thailand, and they went back for a few weeks over Christmas, and the girl said that the Thai kids, were a lot more skillful with the ball than the English kids.

‘It bet you it was roasting’ I said, ‘and I bet you that alls you did is play football, in the sun all day?’ She gave me a great big wide-eyed smile, and I thought about my son’s game last Sunday, played on a muddy pitch, in the teaming down rain, amidst the enemy of football, which has always been the wind, imo.

No wonder those little Thai kids, have got more skill than our own kids!! Our kids go to professional academies from the age of 6/7/8, and still don’t get taught how to kick with both feet, whilst slowly getting the fun taken out of it? This is just my opinion!!

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