Everton's Academy

by   |   27/01/2024  21 Comments  [Jump to last]

Earlier on, I read a comment on the Everton - Luton pre-match thread about how Everton's Academy is useless, what's the point, etc, etc.?

Below, is the point:

Lewis Dobbin
Tom Cannon
Ellis Simms
Anthony Gordon
Antonee Robinson
Nathan Broadhead
Kieran Dowell
Adam Forshaw
Tom Davies
Jonjoe Kenny

But sure… Our youth system produces nothing.

Our youth system is fine. The issue isn't the youths, or even the coaching (at least, within the youth system itself), but the way that so many of these players were subsequently managed, and failed, by a club who were too busy wasting a king's ransom rather than building a squad and working to an actual fucking strategy. These are all players who have, or will, play in the top flight.

There's so much wrong with Everton, you could literally write a book. But the youth system is low on the list.

The Academy sometimes produces players we can use. More often, it produces players that, if the club was more effectively run, could be sold at a decent price to help pay for other players. Instead, up until recently, we've held onto players for far too long, costing us a decent fee, and costing them the ability to develop and thrive in a stable environment.

For a long time, fans have wanted to see our young tyros sent out early, to play men's football, and for the club to be more pragmatic in making a decision on whether or not they'll make the grade. Happily, that's looking like one of the long-overdue changes being ushered in by Kevin Thelwell.

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Dave Abrahams
1 Posted 28/01/2024 at 19:40:14
Well, first of all, I think the Academy pays for itself with the profits made from selling young players coming through it.

Since Martin Waldron lost his job for illegal payments to secure the signings of young players, there has been a lack of good youngsters coming through and some outstanding talents have been persuaded to sign for other clubs with better deals, although Everton apparently offered very good deals themselves.

The way some young players have had to play under various managers and in struggling teams hasn't helped their progress but some have been very slow learners and made the same mistakes game after game. Tom Davies was the standout here although he had a few attributes as well.

My main gripe has been the coaches from Underwood to Paul Tait. Tait was promoted from the U18s to the U21s and we were told he was the best of those who applied and were interviewed for the job, No menton of who else was interviewed.

Leighton Baines was appointed as U18s coach without any experience as a coach, maybe another "jobs for the boys" — Kenwright was the Chairman when he was appointed.

The U18s were bottom of their league before yesterday, a 4-1 win at Stoke might have improved their position, previously they had lost their last eight games.

I think both recruitment of young players and appointment of the coaches could be improved although Thelwell hasn't been there long enough to do this and I think he has more than enough to do improving the first-team squad.

Kieran Kinsella
2 Posted 28/01/2024 at 20:06:12
I should imagine Gordon's sale alone covered the academy costs for several years.

But I agree with Dave. Jevons, Jeffers, Baxter and so on. Would any of these guys have been hired had they not played for the club? Is it a meritocracy or a retirement home for mediocre ex-Blues?

Another challenge is on one hand fending off wealthy clubs, eg, Man City with Lawrence and Chelsea with Samuels-Smith, and pushy agents and parents telling 16-year-olds they'd get first-team football elsewhere, eg Small. Not sure how you tackle those issues but perhaps hiring quality coaches could help.

Robert Tressell
3 Posted 29/01/2024 at 15:06:22
I get the point, but a team with no money for transfers could (and should) do a lot more with its academy.

It might be okay from a Premier League perspective but it's a weak output compared to say Rennes and Lyon in France.

A good comparison is also Atalanta in Italy who have an excellent academy – despite being adjacent to Juve, AC Milan, Inter and Torino geographically.

There will always be reasons not to, but then I'm sure there were plenty of potential barriers to Brighton using data analytics designed for the gambling industry to get them to the point they are now.

Jay Harris
4 Posted 29/01/2024 at 16:04:15
I am all for the academy and helping young kids to progress but I still feel there is too much of a gap between U21 and Premier League level.

In the past, it was Tranmere, Chester and Southport that were the "feeder" teams along with some of the Irish clubs but today it is such big business swooping on the best young talent that it ruins the progress of many a promising kid.

I feel the model of investing in a feeder club could well bring dividends and be part of the overall development of young players.

David Bromwell
5 Posted 29/01/2024 at 16:12:36
Like most supporters, I always hope they we will produce our own players. Sadly, when we do produce a good player, they have often been sold.

The one player on Rob's list who we should never have let go was Antonee Robinson. I always thought he looked good and has developed into a first-class player.

One other player destined for a bright future is Harry Tyrer. He played a very full season for Chester last year, and has continued his good form with table-topping Chesterfield this season. He is one of the few players currently on loan who is maintaining good form and playing regularly.

Perhaps rather than recruiting youngsters at 7 years of age, we should look in the lower divisions for players who may offer greater potential. Since we regularly produce players who, even after 15 years of coaching, cannot make a simple pass or take a throw-in.

Robert Tressell
6 Posted 29/01/2024 at 17:31:01
Looking back, I did an article in November 2021 about our academy and what others are doing in the Premier League and Europe. It addresses your point about feeder clubs and other approaches Jay.

Nothing much has changed since then – and judging by the England youth squads, we are unlikely to produce a regular first-teamer any time soon. Our next regular first teamer is probably younger than 15 at the moment.

Kieran Kinsella
7 Posted 29/01/2024 at 17:38:32
Prince Rupert's Tower drunk tank is clearly not the best place from which to continue coach recruitment. Where we missed a trick (further to Robert's money point) is that, when we were spending money, we blew it on transfer fees for kids from other clubs instead of investing it in quality coaches.

Essentially now we are having to start from scratch with the academy but it's going to be hard to entice better coaches when we can't afford to attract them.

Dave Abrahams
8 Posted 29/01/2024 at 21:22:40
The U21’s drew with Man.City 1-1 tonight at Walton Hall Avenue, I think it looked like the local park.

Sean McAllister scored a very good individual goal but then went off injured,although he went down dwell away from any football.

I only watched the second half but it was a very mundane performance from most players although Dixon, at right back was full of enthusiasm and played okay.

Iain Crawford
9 Posted 29/01/2024 at 21:35:19
A good solo effort from McAllister, hope the injury isn't too bad, I think this lad is improving.

Here's the goal


Mike Doyle
10 Posted 29/01/2024 at 21:47:33
Dave 8] I caught the last 20 mins. Roman Dixon looked quick and feisty. He was the only one that caught my eye in the bit I saw. That aside all we seemed to do was hoof the ball downfield and wait for it City to come back at us (sound familiar). Had Man City’s U21s included a player like Phil Foden we’d have been in trouble. Thankfully they didn’t.
Rob Halligan
11 Posted 29/01/2024 at 22:15:07
Dave # 8…….a minor detail, but the game was actually played at Finch Farm.
Dupont Koo
12 Posted 30/01/2024 at 06:32:45
With the academy graduates that Rob mentioned, let's see how we did from a monetary Profit & Loss perspective:

Lewis Dobbin:
N/A. On the periphery of the first team this season.

Tom Cannon:
£7.5 Million sold to a Leicester team that is very likely to return to the Premier League this coming fall (he could very much play against us during Goodison Park's last ever season). For someone who only had half a season of track record (10 goals in 20+ odds games at Preston), that was a decent return to help covering our bleeding daily operating cost (although I am not naïve enough to believe the whole amount has been received in one go).

Ellis Simms:
Between £6-8 Million received from Coventry Team. When he was on loan up north, my Sunderland mates were furious with his lack of work rate. Provided that he has been subpar for Coventry since the transfer, I would say not only did we dodge a big bullet, but also we should keep counting our blessings for getting £6 Million (I never trust the upper end amounts that do nothing but made the headlines more eye-catching).

Anthony Gordon
£40 Million + 5 Million "Achievable Add-Ons". Have to tip our hats to Thelwell for maximising the exact amount we would receive, despite having one hand tied to his back.

Antonee Robinson:
£2 Million to Wigan, who subsequently sold him to Fulham on a par. Decent money at the time, but he has since blossomed into the starting left-back with both Fulham and the USA National Team. Both he and the club were not matched at the right place and the right time (Digne and Baines were in front of him).

Nathan Broadhead:
Sold to Ipswich with a range between £0 to 4 Million. Likely no up-front fee with a lot of deferred payments and add-ons. When Thelwell first arrived, Broadhead was already an “over-aged” (ie, older than 22) prospect who lacks a Football League track record to make a judgement and terms (he was on an expiring contract) to be sold with a decent fee. So Thelwell gave him a 1-year extension to retain value, and loaned him to a Wigan team where he scored for fun for half a season. Fortunately, the ambitious Tractor Boys came calling and Thelwell was more than happy to get his salary off the books and get an option to receive decent to great value in the future (depends on whether Tractor Boys will be promoted to the Premier League and other performance metrics). IMHO, he was one of Thelwell's more under-rated moves to salvage value from a distressed asset.

Kieran Dowell:
£1.5 Million to Norwich, but moved on to Rangers on a free transfer last summer. Another one who was over-hyped by Bobby Brown Shoes, he has never shown that he has the physicality to perform consistently in the Premier League. We could have received more.

Adam Forshaw:
£0. Free transfer to Brentford one year before Moyes heading up M62. Having held the jobs of Thelwell and Dyche by himeself, Moyes never got the time and acumen flogging youngsters to Football League clubs consistently for decent fees to replenish the club's coffers. Subsequently sold 3 times between Championship clubs with decent fees (Wigan bought him for £3.5 Million, then sold him to Middlesbrough for £2.5 Million after 6 months. Leeds acquired him for £5 Million 3 years later), if only he had been transferred with nominal up-front fees and add-ons, we could have been benefited.

Tom Davies:
£0. Koeman, Big Sam, Rhino, Marco, Don Carlo, Benitez, Frank & Sean. That's 8 managers for whom Tom Davies has played in 6 years, and under whom his development was completely wrecked. A textbook cautionary tale in terms of how to ruin a young footballer, he has played all over the place and excelled in none. With his unwillingness to sign a contract extension, he should have been sold in either the summer of 2022 or January 2023. We might not have received much but any fees and add-ons would have been helpful and better than none.

Jonjoe Kenny
£0. A combination of bad luck (Schalke was relegated when Jonjoe returned to the UK, thus at no position to sign him permanently) and mis-management by Walsh and Brands, we received nothing, instead of a decent fee like those with Dowell and Robinson at the very worst.

(Ishe Samuels-Smith was sold to Chelsea for £3 Million. There were no reports on whether there are any add-ons in the deal: if there are, it's a decent return; if not, it means someone had a gun pointed to Thelwell's head when the deal was made.)

In short, a little less than £60 Million received for 9 departed academy graduates who have since proved to be capable performers at the Championship level at the very worst. We should have got more, given that the going rate for such performers is between £8 to 12 Million. At least we can take solace that, in Thelwell, we have a capable DoF who is well equipped to manage all these assets from the Academy, either selling them to recoup cash or getting them more ready for first team.

Robert Tressell
13 Posted 30/01/2024 at 07:24:07
I saw the last 20 minutes of the Man City game. We played hoofball because we couldn't cope with the City high press. The players were trying to play out but couldn't do it.

It looked to me as though the poor positional play and lack of movement were to blame – not lack of ability.

Whilst City did not have a Phil Foden playing, they did have Micah Hamilton who would probably be a regular in our First XI or very close.

Dave Abrahams
14 Posted 30/01/2024 at 10:19:56
Rob (11),

Thanks for that. I knew it wasn't Southport but seeing the five aside pitches in the background I thought it was Walton Hall Ave, thanks again.

Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 30/01/2024 at 10:34:34
I'm not a fan of the academy system in general. I've made those views clear in the past.

I would rather see clubs go out and mentor young players in their natural environment and not take them into the pressurised bubble of the academies.

Let them develop naturally, support grass roots and take those with the potential around the age between 14 - 16 in my opinion.

Dave Abrahams
16 Posted 30/01/2024 at 10:42:33
By the way going by results I don’t know how seriously City take this U21’s league they are bottom of the pile with Everton fifth from bottom.
Dave Lynch
17 Posted 30/01/2024 at 11:02:15
Fan of it or not, Danny, if run correctly it can yield great rewards.

Just look at the players coming through across the park, some excellent players.

Our whole club is a shitshow from top to bottom. A friend of ours, his lad was with Man Utd youth, they pulled him because of travelling distance and he went to Everton, the lad was disillusioned with the coaching and Liverpool have snapped him up in a heartbeat.

He said Everton where just not playing enough football and they spent most of the day in a classroom, for fuck's sake!!

Robert Tressell
18 Posted 30/01/2024 at 11:18:52
Dave # 16, I think the answer is that City take their academy and youth development extremely seriously - but are not hugely concerned with winning youth titles.

Hence they are bottom but they have produced:


All this on the same period we produced Gordon.

All of these players would be in our first team squad and 4 / 5 would be first-team starters for us. One of our best prospects of recent years, Emilio Lawrence, didn't even get off their bench last night against us.

They are also heavily represented throughout the age groups for England youth.

Dave Abrahams
19 Posted 30/01/2024 at 12:43:08
Robert (18),

Yes getting players ready for the premier league is the main object of City's Academy and the beauty of City's is that quite a few of those lads are locally born: Foden, world class already, the Doyles, one out on loan in the Premier League, and then there's Lewis.

I'd love that kid in our central midfield, what a player, what energy, versatile as well, and trusted in big games all over Europe, how old is he? 20 or 21, new to the Premier League last season and playing like he'd always been there!!

Robert Tressell
20 Posted 30/01/2024 at 13:27:33
Dave, absolutely right. Palmer, Bobb, McAtee and Lewis would be starters for us right now. All cracking players and with the exception of Norwegian Bobb All mostly local.

I have no doubt that if kids from a little further west had the same standard facilities and coaching from a young age then we could be in much better shape too.

Jerome Shields
21 Posted 01/02/2024 at 04:57:41
Since Big Sam there has been little interest by Managers at giving Youth a chance. Anything showing potential has been loaned out or sold.It seemed to be the main part of Brands remit to do so.

There was alot of jobs for the boys regarding Coaches.,though there was a extensive structure of them.I wonder if the millions to develop Finch Farm has sufficed..

Dyche is reluctant to give youth a chance, so that has continued as far as Management is concerned.With the various crises survival has been the proirity.I do think that the Academy has paid for it's self in Sales.

Thank you Rob for the article and the information from the informed posters, who's thoughts and observations are always worthwhile. Satellite Clubs have been a PR stunt in the main with little serious input from the Club.The South American adventure consisted of Club pennants given out.Home Farm( Everton) are now affiliated to Newcastle

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