12/03/2024 87comments  |  Jump to last

Former Everton player and homegrown striker, James Vaughan has been appointed Everton's Head of Academy Recruitment & Player Pathways. 

Vaughan has been back with the Academy since September 2022, when he was appointed  Loans Pathway Manager, and now takes on this new position within the Club's administrative structure.

"This is a new role I am extremely passionate and excited about and to be given the opportunity to do it at Everton is a real honour," said Vaughan.

"I said when I rejoined the Club 18 months ago it felt like I'd come home. It's a privilege to be here, knowing what the Club means to so many people. I know because I feel that, too.

"We want the best for Everton and I will work relentlessly in helping to achieve our wider goal of building a bright future for this club."

Everton’s Director of Football, Kevin Thelwell, said: "We are delighted James is stepping up to become Head of Academy Recruitment & Player Pathways, a new role within our football structure.

"Having been part of the Club since the age of six and progressing through the playing ranks, from pre-Academy to the Men's Senior Team, we believe James will offer a unique perspective. With his personal experience, outstanding football knowledge and determined character, we are confident he will succeed in what is a very important position as we build for the future.”


Reader Comments (87)

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Mike Hayes
1 Posted 12/03/2024 at 14:28:15
Can you now find us a striker???
Joe McMahon
2 Posted 12/03/2024 at 14:47:49
"His personal experience, outstanding football knowledge" – that's what Kenwright said when Sharp joined the board! I hope it works out better than that did!
Christy Ring
3 Posted 12/03/2024 at 14:59:47
Constant injuries from 16 onwards sadly ruined his promising career; he deserves all the best wishes.
David Bromwell
4 Posted 12/03/2024 at 17:07:12
As a youngster he had very real potential but sadly he did have some serious injuries. However, although he had to drop down the divisions, he managed to have a long career which illustrates his strength of character.

This is very different to the Graeme Sharp appointment which was very much part of the 'old boy network'. In this case, there is a serious job for James to do, the club must be aware of his qualities and I for one wish him well.

Alan McGuffog
5 Posted 12/03/2024 at 17:11:01
Great promise but a rather kamikaze approach led to some awful injuries. Did he not lose a lot of blood after one incident?

Loved his debut goal against Palace (?) following a great run by the oft-maligned Kevin Kilbane.

Mark Murphy
6 Posted 12/03/2024 at 17:19:06
Isn't he still the youngest goal-scorer in the top league?
Brian Temple
7 Posted 12/03/2024 at 18:38:38
Tony Abrahams
8 Posted 12/03/2024 at 18:41:53
I remember him punching the turf because he didn't want to come off, Brian, on the same ground that I'm sure I could see Pistone doing cartwheels when he was on the stretcher, safe in the knowledge that he was probably going to be out for the season – in August!
Kunal Desai
9 Posted 12/03/2024 at 18:44:30
Jobs for the boys.

Let's be honest, nothing has changed here. Why are we not bringing in external people who are actually qualified and experienced enough to perform this role?

Andy Crooks
10 Posted 12/03/2024 at 18:47:43
Kunal, I don't know if it's "jobs for the boys".

You clearly do.

Danny O’Neill
11 Posted 12/03/2024 at 18:52:36
I've not been a fan of the jobs for the boys in the past, but this feels a bit different.

He's been back at the club and worked his way up. This is a promotion overseen by Thelwell, so not like the previous regime.

Like many young players, he had a lot of early potential but was blighted by injury.

Yes, Mark, I believe he is still the youngest scorer in the Premier League era.

Good luck to him under the stewardship of Thelwell.

Bill Gall
12 Posted 12/03/2024 at 19:07:01
Funny, I thought you had to have experience to do a job and an ex-youth player from another club would not mean he is better.

Vaughan has been back at the club since 2022 and it seems Thelwell has taken notice of his performance. It seems Thelwell is promoting people within the club, he has not brought him in from another club.

Paul Ferry
14 Posted 12/03/2024 at 19:20:32
Christy (3):

I don't think that James Vaughan's career was ruined, mate. I think that I know where you are coming from; that he had to drop down the league. But 111 goals in 363 matches at those levels is still decent.

The very best of luck to him. Prove to Dyche that his current views on youth are wrong and have a word with him about Ebere.

Joe McMahon
15 Posted 12/03/2024 at 19:38:14
David @4, I agree with you, I wasn't comparing to the old blue boys and Sharp, it was just the language in the article was the same.

I actually see this as good move, and James has knowledge of different youth systems at different clubs also, at all levels.

Brent Stephens
16 Posted 12/03/2024 at 19:49:38
Kunal #9,

"Why are we not bringing in external people who are actually qualified and experienced enough to perform this role?"

Setting aside for the moment the issue of experience, I know there are qualifications required to coach; what is the qualification relevant to the role of Head of Academy Recruitment & Player Pathways?

John Kavanagh
17 Posted 12/03/2024 at 20:07:12
Brian @7.

After seeing that injury, I remember thinking how extremely unlucky it was on young James. Horrific. I've seen nothing like it before or since and it completely derailed a very promising career. I've always wondered whether it was caused by sharpened steel studs that got past the ref's cursory inspection.

I hope he does very well in the post because, from now on, we are likely to be almost totally dependent on the Academy. Otherwise, we are relying on signings like Beto or loans like Harrison to get us out of trouble, which is a really frightening prospect.

Robert Tressell
18 Posted 12/03/2024 at 20:39:57
This is an important role.

We need to recruit players into the academy. It is something Genoa do extensively under 777 Partners. We've started doing it with Boakye and Benjamin, with rumours of Melia the Irish kid and some from Scotland.

If (as the good ones will be) they are too good for the U21s but not good enough for the first team, then it's a loan. Exactly how the more professionally run clubs are already operating.

I think Thelwell is probably above the jobs for the boys nonsense and has just seen what he likes in James Vaughan. Hope so. Would be great if a former prodigy came good in this role.

Peter Hodgson
19 Posted 12/03/2024 at 20:50:41
Well said, Robert. I agree 100% with that.

I rated James highly until his injuries put paid to his first-class career.

Christy Ring
20 Posted 12/03/2024 at 21:01:20
Paul #14,

What I meant was that James Vaughan broke on the scene, scored against Palace at 16 in the Premier League, had huge potential, and injuries curtailed his career at the very top level, at such a young age.

He still had a good career but it deserved a lot more. He was so unfortunate with injury after injury, and I'm delighted he's back home at Everton.

Paul Ferry
21 Posted 12/03/2024 at 21:31:35
Spot on, Christy (20).
Larry O'Hara
22 Posted 12/03/2024 at 21:35:39
Christy (20) yes I agree: always liked him
Jerome Shields
23 Posted 12/03/2024 at 21:40:19
Dyche said there was nothing available at the Academy to step up to the squad. Though he has two from the academy with him in Portugal.

Wish James Luck.

Paul Kossoff
24 Posted 12/03/2024 at 23:37:20
With Bill Kenwright sadly passed, who is appointing?
Vaughan was never good enough even for us, but is now deemed good enough to find others good enough.

Nothing against him, but this old blue boy network hasn't done us any good before, who's next? Neville? Gray? Ebrell? Mind you, Vaughan will find his level soon enough if we go down.

Throw some scraps to the fans to cheer them up it seems. Helmet on!🙄

Colin Glassar
25 Posted 13/03/2024 at 00:04:45
I loved James Vaughan as a player but has any former player improved any of our kids?
Dan Parker
26 Posted 13/03/2024 at 03:23:12
Colin Harvey did pretty well, Paul.

We can only judge on results.

Danny O’Neill
27 Posted 13/03/2024 at 06:08:52
Colin Harvey was a good coach, Dan.

Interesting article with an interview with Kevin Sheedy, who coached in our youth setup from 2006 to 2017:

Kevin Sheedy interview: Nurturing youth — Morning Star, September 2014

The last reference to Ross Barkley seems before he went off the rails a bit and lost his way. He appears to have re-discovered himself at Luton. Big fish small pond? Blighted by the pressure of playing for his boyhood club and at Chelsea? At Villa, he started well then faded and sat on the bench a lot.

Vaughn is an interesting choice. He's pretty much been through the lot.

The initial excitement that he was the next big thing. Out on loan, played in the lower leagues. Injury. He knows the perils and as well as recruitment, he can advise the young players and manage their expectations through experience. The "Player Pathways" tag lends to that.

He seems to have been given a very specific role.

Christy Ring
28 Posted 13/03/2024 at 07:42:35

Sheedy did an excellent job with the youths, but his face didn't fit and he left?

Tony Abrahams
29 Posted 13/03/2024 at 08:02:32
I think a lot of people who have never even been involved in professional football could start going to watch football games and become successful at identifying the best young talent.

But how many people who have been involved in professional football for most of their lives could set up a successful coaching system that would bring out the best in young footballers trying to make the grade in such a tough environment?

The key is in the coaching, imo, although not everyone will agree with me, which is also probably true!

Danny O’Neill
30 Posted 13/03/2024 at 09:33:24
Totally, Tony.

In my 6 years coaching the Hayes & Yeading youth teams, it was all about imparting knowledge from playing in the Army teams and focusing on developing players. I barely used to worry about results. I just wanted to make them better footballers and give them a chance.

Some went to have trials with High Wycombe and Watford. Another got a chance with Tottenham, but blew it as he couldn't get out of bed (I used to have to pick him up when he played for me). Another went on to play for Staines (semi-professional).

For me, it is about setting up a system and, as you say, the coaching. At youth level, forget results in my opinion.

Lester Yip
31 Posted 13/03/2024 at 09:50:18
I saw his role is to attract local boys and convince parents that by playing for the club that there's a real chance to go through the pathway and play as a senior in the Premier League. He's got a story to tell.

Of course there are others also in such rank such as Rooney. But he's a manager already. I see this as a person who fits the role.

Tony Abrahams
32 Posted 13/03/2024 at 10:11:50
If you get the first bit right, then I'm sure winning will eventually take care of itself, Danny?
Dave Abrahams
33 Posted 13/03/2024 at 10:15:34
Robert (18),

Boakye is an interesting signing, he was signed from AC Milan on a 2½-year deal, I think he was a free agent. Boakye was used as a sub just after he came, I haven't heard anything about him since, is he still here?

It's also an intriguing story of how he got to the Italian club and why he left on top of why we gave him such a long contract. Had we watched him and knew of his talent? He seems to be a mystery man to me.

Have you any background to this player, Robert? You are usually well versed and up to date on a lot of foreign players, although I don't think Boakye has played in the top flight for any club.

Dave Abrahams
34 Posted 13/03/2024 at 10:20:21
I forgot to mention, above (33), that Benjamin was on Arsenal's books one week, played for us as a trialist the next week, and was back on the bench for one of Arsenal's Academy teams the following week.

Is he coming, going or staying with Arsenal or Everton?

John Raftery
35 Posted 13/03/2024 at 15:30:15
Dave (34),

I quote from an article in today's Athletic….

‘Omari Benjamin, soon to be released by Arsenal, was recently on trial with the Under-21s but other clubs are expected to compete with Everton for his signature.'

Dave Abrahams
36 Posted 13/03/2024 at 16:22:43
John (35),

Thanks, he is a forward with some pace I believe so he could be a worthwhile signing.

Danny O’Neill
37 Posted 13/03/2024 at 19:43:21
Yes, Tony,

Coaching and performances. Install discipline, desire and commitment to compliment the ability. Let kids enjoy the game and play without pressure.

Results will come.

I'm obviously talking youth level but the principles are the same in my experience.

Robert Tressell
38 Posted 13/03/2024 at 20:35:46
Dave #33.

I don't really know anything about Boakye. It looks from Transfermarkt that he was released by AC Milan before we signed him. I think they got him from a Ghanaian side with links to a Slovak or Hungarian side. Tough journey for a 19-year-old.

It is encouraging though to be linked with striker Mason Melia of St Pats in Ireland. He is very young but linked with all the biggest clubs – and looks promising. There were loads of clips of him on YouTube doing the rounds this time last year.

Also Ceiran Loney seems to have joined now from Partick Thistle (or has he?) and maybe Omari Benjamin is on his way too.

Not going to solve our present issues – but if just one of these develops into a first teamer, it is a massive step forward.

Bobby Mallon
39 Posted 13/03/2024 at 20:50:13
Have you heard 777 Partners have links to 2 Russian oligarchs
David Stothart
41 Posted 14/03/2024 at 01:20:32
Why is our club insensitively and stupidly using the words 'pathway' and 'pathways' as pathetically clichéd job descriptions when the words have such appalling connotations in Liverpool?
Jeff Spiers
42 Posted 14/03/2024 at 09:49:41
David @41. Could not agree more.

Forgive my ignorance, but what does the job actually entail?

Dave Abrahams
43 Posted 14/03/2024 at 09:57:29
Robert (38),

Thanks for your reply. I am wondering if the lad is still with Everton because he seems to have gone off the radar since that one performance.

Stu Darlington
44 Posted 14/03/2024 at 10:03:24
I don't know if James Vaughan will make a big difference to player recruitment and development but I thought he had real potential when he first came onto the scene. Pity about the bad injuries he suffered that interrupted a very promising career.

This thread however does highlight for me what I consider to be an under-performing sector of our club and that is recruitment and development. It may be just my perception but we do not seem to bring many prospects through into the Premier League squad compared to our competitors, and when we do, we don't seem to be able to keep them, only to watch them come good somewhere else.
I don't know why this is.

Is our scouting network not good enough? Are we not an attractive proposition for talented young players? Our training facilities are good but do coaches make sessions exciting and stimulating enough for the youth of today?

I know it's likely that the Top 6 clubs will have the pick of the best prospects, but other less established clubs in the Premier League seem to be able to pick up talented players, although I acknowledge these may come from astute recruitment from overseas leagues, but why not Everton? Seems to be something lacking somewhere.

It's not just recruitment though. The whole marketing and commercial side of the club seems amateurish and very underdeveloped compared to our rivals. Why? We have massive, hardcore support on Merseyside and the surrounding area, much more than cheating Man City for instance, but our merchandising is crap.

The club really needs to address these and other issues as it would provide a much-needed revenue stream in the future.

Rob Jones
45 Posted 14/03/2024 at 10:49:39
Kevin Thelwell is a canny operative, and will have had 18 months to watch James Vaughan perform in his prior role.

Rather than whinge, as some seem determined to do, I think it's good that we appear to be building an infrastructure.

Tom Bowers
46 Posted 14/03/2024 at 11:01:29
We all wish James Vaughan luck in his new venture. as we do with all new additions to the fold.

Sad that he never realized his potential but that can be said of so many young lads who missed the boat at Everton and it seems Rooney was the only one to develop into a world class player.

Stephen Davies
47 Posted 14/03/2024 at 11:06:05
Really good long piece in The Athletic on Thelwell:

Keeping Everton competitive: Analysing Kevin Thelwell’s time at Goodison Park

It became crystal clear early in Kevin Thelwell's tenure as their director of football that Everton had a huge financial hole to fill.

As surprising as it feels now, the club's primary focus when Thelwell was recruited from New York Red Bulls of MLS in February 2022 was on a return to playing in the European competitions. Despite an ongoing relegation battle, the somewhat misguided belief from key decision-makers at the time was that Everton were drastically underperforming on the pitch.

It proved to be something of a false prophecy. That same month, Russia decided to invade Ukraine and Everton's main sources of revenue dried up almost overnight, leaving a sizeable amount of a costly new stadium project, now deemed to be worth in the region of £760million ($970m at the current exchange rate), to fund.

This is the harsh financial landscape that has coloured the entirety of Thelwell's time at the club so far. With a takeover process still ongoing, it may well colour the immediate future, too.

To say the 50-year-old's tenure to date has been eventful would be the understatement of the century. There have been two relegation battles, profit and sustainability rules (PSR) breaches, high-profile boardroom departures and key player sales out of necessity. Throw in a 10-point deduction — initially the heftiest sporting sanction in the history of the Premier League before it was cut to six points on appeal — and the prospect of further punishment for a PSR breach in the 2022-23 season and you come up with a different word to describe Thelwell's two years: chaos.

As unpalatable as it may sound for a fanbase who have seen success and yearn for its return, the aim in these hugely challenging circumstances has been just to get by; to make ends meet financially while also preventing what would be a deeply damaging first relegation in over 70 years.

At the same time, Thelwell, who is effectively running the club's footballing operation in the absence of a fully functioning board, is also having to put the building blocks in place for what he hopes will be a better future.

Without that points deduction, the main success story of his time so far would almost certainly have been supporting the successful evasion this season of a third straight relegation battle at men's first-team level.

But with off-field issues creating a new reality there too, he would likely point instead to a sizeable number of small decisions, across all areas of the club, that will hopefully place Everton in a better position than where he found them.

The Athletic takes an in-depth look at Thelwell's first two years at Goodison Park — the changes, big and small, made behind the scenes, and what needs to come next as he moves towards the final 12 months of his current contract.

Sean Dyche and the first team

The job of a director of football is to support and oversee the development of key areas, from recruitment to medical, sports science to the academy and women's team — but, out of necessity, Thelwell has spent a substantial amount of time attempting to help turn around the men's first team.

He inherited a squad with many players on bloated salaries, pushing the club's wages-to-turnover ratio perilously high at around 90 per cent. The transfer model under owner Farhad Moshiri of spending big on sure-fire bets with limited resale value had been a failure, storing up problems for further down the line.

Part of Thelwell's remit has been to reduce that wage bill and the amount of money being paid in agents' fees, as well as protect the club in terms of player contracts. Deals for older players tend to be shorter, with long-term contracts largely reserved for those in younger age brackets. Most new ones given out now contain clauses leading to a mandatory reduction in salary if the club are relegated, while there is more emphasis on bonus-related pay than before.

The club estimate a drop of 10 to 20 per cent in playing salary costs since Thelwell's arrival. The comparison has been made to neighbours Liverpool, whose recently published accounts for 2022-23 showed a wage bill of £373million. Everton believe theirs is four times lower and the gap is only growing.

There is a feeling internally that Everton have made progress on limited resources and that manager Sean Dyche, appointed in January 2023, is also doing a good job in difficult circumstances.

There is also an acceptance that Dyche's predecessor, Frank Lampard, was given more time than necessary to turn a corner in terms of results on the pitch — in part because he was felt to be the right cultural fit for the club, but also because Everton had been keen to avoid the cycle of managerial churn that has punctuated Moshiri's now-eight-year tenure.

That delay in changing manager almost proved disastrous, with Everton only avoiding their first relegation since 1951 on the final day of last season thanks to Abdoulaye Doucoure's second-half winner at home against Bournemouth.

Dyche ticked several boxes. He was, crucially, a free agent having been fired by Burnley the previous April and would, therefore, come at minimal cost. His nine years at Burnley meant Dyche was used to handling small budgets and maximising resources at Premier League level, had a history of successfully navigating relegation battles and also had automatic promotion from the Championship in each of his two most recent seasons at that level on his CV, should the worst happen.

Thelwell keeps a document on managers and managerial trends and, before Dyche's appointment, had mapped out the previous 10 years in the Premier League to pick out key data points for success. The idea was to see what marked out competitive teams and what the short and medium terms would look like in English football's top flight. Work was also done to pinpoint Everton's style, under Lampard and their other previous managers.

One key conclusion, which would be of little surprise to the fans, is that there had been no consistent thread to underpin it all. The club had lurched from one type of manager to another, with disastrous consequences.

Thelwell, whose father is an Evertonian, has spoken before about understanding the need for positive, front-foot play, particularly in home matches at Goodison Park.

He has described it as a blend of dogs of war and school of science, drawing on two different periods in the club's history for inspiration. In simple terms, it is about aggressive play with and without the ball — ‘pass forward, run forward' — something not too dissimilar to the model for the Red Bull multi-club stable he was part of during his two years in New York.

Data has been an increasingly important part of the process, both at first-team level and in recruitment. Everton's performance insights team, led by Charlie Reeves, now play a central role in both areas.

Dyche and Thelwell will meet informally every week to discuss the coming weekend's game, while there is also a more comprehensive debrief with coaching staff based on insights from Reeves' department. Post-game reports are usually about 20 pages in length and help strip out some of the emotion from the match result, allowing key figures to focus on broader patterns and trends.

Reeves also produces an eight-game review for Dyche and Thelwell, looking at key underlying numbers that compare Everton to other Premier League teams.

Most of those data points have provided comfort that, despite losing runs, Dyche's side are indeed on the right track. Internal analysis, based on performances alone, has Everton somewhere between 7th and 12th in the 20-team table.

There is a belief they are creating enough chances to capitalise eventually, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Beto, Doucoure, Jack Harrison and Dwight McNeil all previously boasting decent scoring pedigree. The club's financial predicament, which has led to the sales of Richarlison, Anthony Gordon and Alex Iwobi among others in recent windows, has also seen a talent drain in key areas.

Attacking set pieces have been a particular source of pride, with only leaders Arsenal (19) having scored more Premier League goals from those situations, not counting penalties, this season than Everton's 15. The appointment of Alex Scanlon, a former performance analyst with the Football Association, is seen as one contributing factor to their dominance in this area.

Everton are winless in the league since beating Burnley 2-0 on December 16, though, so the need for an improvement in results is clear.

Dyche's side may not deserve to be in a relegation fight based on the first half of their season, but Everton must again show they are capable of pulling clear of trouble on a run-in

Senior recruitment

Under Thelwell and head of recruitment Dan Purdy, Everton have moved away from the transfer strategy of the early Moshiri years.

The days of signing Andre Gomes and Allan for big sums are gone, with only small fees committed to new players if they are aged 27 and older. Instead, the bulk of a meagre budget has gone on younger targets, such as Amadou Onana and McNeil, boasting potential resale value. The idea is that any future profits made on signings like these can hopefully be reinvested back into the squad.

Those moves for talented youngsters have been supplemented by the arrivals of experienced players. James Tarkowski joined as an out-of-contract free agent in the summer of 2022 from relegated Burnley at age 29, and a 31-year-old Idrissa Gueye rejoined the club after three seasons with Paris Saint-Germain for around €4million (£3.4m/$4.4m at current exchange rates) in that same window.

Everton believe their recruitment team, led by Purdy, are in very capable hands but that they have been held back by a lack of resources.

Player identification has not been a concern. Everton have been first to the table for Brennan Johnson, Morgan Gibbs-White and Mohammed Kudus in Thelwell's time at the club, but have not had the funds to get deals for them over the line.

Kudus' £35million move to West Ham from Ajax last summer was particularly galling as Everton had tried to sign the Ghanaian midfielder on three occasions — in the summer of 2020, during his time at Danish club Nordsjaelland, when they were pipped by Ajax, and then in the summer of 2022 and winter of 2023, when Lampard was manager. The hope is that any ensuing funds following a takeover would permit Purdy and his colleagues a greater chance to show what they can do.

In the meantime, a streamlined recruitment department has undergone several changes.

Phil Boardman is finally in situ as a senior European scout, having served his lengthy notice period before leaving EFL club Portsmouth. Boardman worked with Thelwell previously at Wolverhampton Wanderers, comes from an analysis background, and is someone Everton believe adds value to the group.

Full-time scouts have been deployed in Argentina and Brazil to capitalise on the talent in South America, while there is also a growing focus on smaller markets such as Scandinavia, given the success of Brentford and others in this area.

Data has been put in the foreground of the identification phase, while there are new set criteria for each position during the scouting process. Thelwell and Purdy place an emphasis on players they feel can deal with the pressure that comes with wearing the Everton shirt, particularly in games at Goodison, and also value physical prowess, endurance and running power. Midfielders in Dyche's system, for example, often rack up between 11-12 km (around seven miles) per game.

Not all recent signings have been successful.

There is an acceptance, for example, that Neal Maupay's summer 2022 move from Brighton has not worked out. While the forward has subsequently shown his value on loan back at former side Brentford this season, he was not deemed to be a great fit for Everton. Maupay was signed to play as a foil to Calvert-Lewin but was forced into a lone striker role due to his would-be striker partner's injury problems last season.

The jury is still out on others, including Beto, although there is a feeling the Portuguese striker signed from Italy's Udinese last August will show his value once he properly acclimatises.

Everton view the additions of promising players including James Garner, Jarrad Branthwaite, Youssef Chermiti and Onana as a way they can develop a competitive advantage — buy at comparatively low prices, so they can eventually become mainstays in the team or be sold for a substantial profit. In the absence of the funds needed to sign a top striker, the aim with Chermiti, 19, is to develop him into one.

Chermiti, who had been tracked for several years before being signed from Portugal's Sporting Lisbon last summer, is seen as one for the future. He was a loan target for clubs across the continent in the recent winter transfer window but was not allowed to exit because of Everton's first-team injuries. The belief is that he will need first-team minutes next season, whether for Everton or elsewhere, to help fulfil his considerable talent.

Everton hope to have succession plans mapped out in advance of any high-profile outgoing transfers, with Thelwell having previously pointed to the way Brighton handled midfielder Moises Caicedo's sale to Chelsea last summer as an example of good practice. Limited funds so far have almost exclusively had to go towards keeping the first team as competitive as possible.

Certain other deals have not been possible due to financial constraints, significantly limiting the pool of players available. It is not the only area in which a shortage of money is biting.

Academy and emerging talent focus

Dyche raised eyebrows in some quarters last week when he said nobody in the Everton academy ranks is primed to step in and help his first team in the short term. Yet, internally, staff had long since drawn a similar conclusion.

Development football is about much more than just results, but Everton Under-21s are 21st out of 26 in Premier League 2, with Leighton Baines' under-18s ninth out of 13 in the northern section of their league. Paul Tait's second-string have at least fared well in the Premier League International Cup, where they have beaten Monaco, Athletic Bilbao and Benfica this season on their way to next month's semi-finals, even if their progression was aided by fringe first-teamers such as Chermiti and Lewis Dobbin dropping down to play for them in certain games.

But, as at first-team level, there is a sense in the academy that a lack of significant investment has come back to bite.

An academy transfer ban, which ran from 2018 to 2020 and came as a result of an investigation into tapping up, left Everton unable to add sufficiently to their youth ranks while, in more recent times, key names including Ishe Samuels-Smith had to be sold (in his case, to Chelsea this summer) to balance the books.

Such unpalatable choices have had to be made at all levels as Thelwell and others have looked to keep the club on an even keel, but that has meant the future has been compromised to meet the needs of the present.

Thelwell is aware Everton's best chance of plugging the shortfall is by investing in the ‘emerging talent' market — typically encompassing the ages of 16 to 21 — with Dan Rice joining from Southampton last summer to lead the search in that particular area. It is expected to become a priority market for the club as they look to unearth the next Branthwaite, signed from Carlisle United as a 17-year-old, but that too requires additional finance.

In the absence of money, Everton's emerging talent and academy recruitment teams have looked at the free-agent market.

Omari Benjamin, soon to be released by Arsenal, was recently on trial with the under-21s but other clubs are expected to compete with Everton for his signature.

Malik Mothersille, then of Chelsea, was also on trial with Tait's side early this season but instead joined League One club Peterborough United. Ghanaian winger Kingsford Boakye, a free agent after being released by AC Milan, joined in January after a successful trial but Everton have not moved forward with a deal for another teenage trialist, central defender Brandan Craig of MLS side Philadelphia Union.

Braiden Graham, the highly regarded Northern Ireland youth international, has agreed to join from Linfield this summer and has already been over to the club's Finch Farm training ground several times to help the 16-year-old adapt before his move.

Everton's youth setup was perhaps the most obvious area in which Thelwell's influence could be seen from an early point in his tenure. Gareth Prosser was soon appointed as head of academy, Carl Darlington joined from the Welsh FA as head of coaching and former Everton forward James Vaughan got the new role of loan pathways manager.

Darlington is heavily involved in implementing Thelwell's ‘game model' for Everton, which was designed after consultation with coaches and staff at all levels, including the first team. The aim for all Everton sides, from the Premier League men to the academy kids (as well as the women's sides), is eventually to have them play in a similar way, to make moving up the ranks simpler. Progress there is said to be positive but the work remains ongoing.

The game model is largely principles-based — coaches do have the flexibility to play different systems and use certain elements that suit their players — with the goal that key traits of Everton teams become easily identifiable. Despite the disappointing on-pitch results mentioned above, long-time Everton full-back and former England international Baines has impressed internally and is held in high regard.

Following the departure of Joel Waldron this year, Vaughan will now also assume the role of head of academy recruitment, with the club keen to take strides in this area. He will continue in his job as loan pathways manager and has also supported Rice in the emerging talent market at times. Another appointment in the loan pathways area is expected.

Vaughan is credited with helping ensure Branthwaite's successful transition to first-team level after a loan to Dutch top-flight club PSV Eindhoven last season and adding value to Tom Cannon and Ellis Simms before their sales this summer for combined fees of more than £10million. The shame is that not all of that benefit has been seen by Dyche's senior side.

Given the constraints at all levels, it is hard for Everton to take big, bold steps forward anywhere.

Instead, it is hoped the sizeable number of smaller changes made will leave them better placed to capitalise should the cloud of financial uncertainty clear anytime soon.

Dave Abrahams
48 Posted 14/03/2024 at 11:37:06
A very long read, twice as long if you read the full column.

I didn't realise Dan Purdy was still here, thought he had gone to Spurs.

The wage bill for scouts, and coaches, who appear to be all over the place at Finch Farm must be enormous, it seems as though every player has a coach to match.

Dean Johnson
49 Posted 14/03/2024 at 13:46:57
All sounds very anecdotal and best mate backslapping.

Show me it isn't wallowy wooly welcome arms and I'll be happy.

Show me some genuine quality that has come through in the last 20 years, that's what says jobs for the boys does.

I hope this isn't the same old Everton charity

Sean Mitchell
50 Posted 14/03/2024 at 16:27:15
He was a striker.
Maybe he can coach the current strikers!
Not even joking either.
David Hayes
51 Posted 14/03/2024 at 22:14:04
Really, he was 80% shit as a goal scorer so how does that equate to knowing what goal scoring is? Ridiculous appointment.

How can someone who doesn't know how to do it, recognise what it takes to do it?

Farcical ineptitude from the wankers who steal money from this club, who are inept at best and shameless frauds at worst.

Rob Dolby
52 Posted 14/03/2024 at 00:07:21
Stephen @47,

Thanks for posting that. It at least shows Thelwell is trying to do the right things.

The loan market is becoming more important year on year. Vaughan no doubt has his work cut out for him.

Mike Gaynes
53 Posted 14/03/2024 at 00:08:04
Right, David. If you couldn't do it as a player, you definitely can't coach it. Just ask Mourinho, Sarri, Nagelsmann, Villas Boas, Rodgers, Houllier and dozens of others.

"I didn't know that to be a jockey, you have to have been a horse." -- Arrigo Sacchi.

Danny O’Neill
54 Posted 15/03/2024 at 06:15:58
In my experience, you have to be able to demonstrate.

EDIP is a model I used as a coach: Explain; Demonstrate; Imitate; Practice.

You don't have to have played at the highest level, you just have to have played the game and understand. A lot of successful managers were not the best players.

Mike, Nagelsmann intrigues me. Hardly had a playing career. Still only 36 but has managed Hoffenheim, Leipzig, Bayern and the German national team.

Paul Ferry
55 Posted 15/03/2024 at 07:10:56
36 and 4 coaching jobs suggests that he ain't that good yet, Danny.

What a miserable and bitterly laughable post from David Hayes.

"He was 80% shit as a goal scorer"

What an educated, articulate, and incisive post, Mr Hayes.

111 goals in 363 games at any level is decent.

That would be nearly one goal every three games, Mr Hayes. 80% shit. What a twisted and bitter comment from fuck knows where.

Robert Tressell
56 Posted 15/03/2024 at 07:28:02
Stephen @47,

Thanks for sharing the Athletic article. Good read. We are belatedly doing the sorts of professional things other well-run clubs have been doing for years. It's a tragedy it's happening long after the money has run out.

Like the club management, I think a lot of the fans still massively over-estimate the quality of the playing staff and find it hard to believe that clubs like Forest, Palace and Bournemouth now have better, deeper squads than us.

Tony Abrahams
57 Posted 15/03/2024 at 08:14:28
I think it used to be a standing joke within the game that the Everton scouts used to turn up in a minibus, mob-handed, Dave.

Interesting post, Mike G, and as always it's all about having the right people, making the major decisions, that is the most important thing in a professional environment.

Everton have simply got to start working a lot harder at academy level because this area has always been a hotbed of talent and we have got to start getting this bit right before we start going further afield and adding to it.

I was having a little kick about with my son and his mate the other week, still living the dream, although my dreams have changed from beating six men to being able to get the ball out of your feet, and just playing quick! There was a kid around 15/16 years of age getting a one-to-one coaching session on the next pitch.

He had Liverpool gear on and his dad was watching, and when I spoke to his dad, he said that Liverpool had headhunted the kid from Arsenal. The kid was at Liverpool, but he was still choosing to get one-to-ones on a Sunday, so good luck to him, even if he's at Liverpool.

Tony Abrahams
58 Posted 15/03/2024 at 14:17:36
I think the Director of Football has been a disaster at Everton, Robert, and especially Marcel Brands, who came with a very good reputation but wasn't particularly qualified for the English game.

Steve Walsh and Koeman started the transition by signing about four No 10s. Although Thelwell seems to have done well, I don't know if it's because he is working with a lot less interference, or because he is operating with hands tied behind his back so that it looks like he's coping well with what seems to be a very thankless task right now./p>

Christopher @58, I believe that having the right people making the big decisions is paramount, so hopefully whoever purchases Everton are going to bring in extremely competent professional people in the very near future.

Danny O’Neill
59 Posted 15/03/2024 at 14:19:09
I am a known promoter of the DoF model. But you have to let them get on with it without interference. It works well on the continent.

Brands got sucked into the board, as Dave indicates.

Robert Tressell
60 Posted 15/03/2024 at 17:24:37

Lots of clubs had success years ago without a DoF - but the game has changed a lot since then. It's surely more relevant to look at what successful clubs are doing now, rather than 35 years ago when we were last successful.

When I started supporting in the Tony Cottee era, players were sourced from a much smaller market – other English clubs, Scotland and a little bit from abroad.

We now have a situation where the market for players is truly global, with clubs operating as networks like The City Group and Red Bull etc, or with pairings as Brighton have abroad – and where Liverpool's academy is heavily recruiting teenagers like Bobby Clark, James McConnell, Kaide Gordon, Amara Nallo and Trey Nyoni (this list goes on and on).

Brighton also do this using pioneering statistical analysis and algorithms borrowed from the betting industry. Comes back to the global market for players where a club like Brighton can sign players like Enciso and Caicedo from obscure clubs in Latin America.

Without a DoF, who do you propose should be in charge of this sort of thing? Dyche? The coach / manager surely has enough on his plate in organising formations / tactics etc of the first team. DeZerbi has nothing to do with this at Brighton; likewise Klopp at the RS.

The DoF is not just the guy who finds a new player for the first team. I expect he'll have an input and source what is available based on (a) longer term objectives (b) what Dyche is after for the coming season, and sadly (c) what can be acquired for almost no money. But that's just the very short term bit of a much wider role.

The point of a DoF as I see it is to deliver via the academy, the loan system and recruitment a playing squad which befits the football club over the long haul.

This is exactly what guys like Wenger and Ferguson put in place at Arsenal and Man Utd, what allowed Brighton to rise from nowhere to beating Roma in European competitions and allows the RS to compete despite not being in the same league as City from a resources perspective.

The fact that we completely ballsed up our first couple of attempts at this says a lot more about the running of Everton football club than it does about the DoF model.

Charles Ward
61 Posted 15/03/2024 at 18:55:36
Robert makes some very salient points about the role of the DoF or sporting director or whatever the next catch phrase is. The important point is to have a coherent footballing philosophy which runs from selecting the Under-6 team, the youths, first-team acquisitions and the manager.

We have been an incoherent mess for a number of years with the senior ‘management' pulling the trigger on coaching staff without any rhyme or reason.

This is the club that signed Baines, Stones, Coleman etc from relative obscurity and who went on to have great careers with the club or for whom we were able to obtain a good transfer fee.

It's all very well picking players up on the cheap and selling them for a huge profit – it's what you do with the money that makes the difference.

And 777 Partners have more than a whiff of the two cowboys who nearly put the RS into administration.

Andy Crooks
62 Posted 15/03/2024 at 19:06:26
Robert @79,

I think that the Director of Football role either works brilliantly, and it takes, in my view, remarkable skill to make it work; or it is an unmitigated disaster. Brands's appointment to the board is an example of how badly wrong it can go.

I think that Barry's point should not be dismissed as being out of date. I think that the DoF role could be carried out by specialists who report to the head coach and his team and are as anonymous as the physios, ie, vitally important but in very well-defined roles.

The DoF role has the potential to create discord and conflict. The running of a team requires only one big personality.

Tony Abrahams
63 Posted 15/03/2024 at 19:17:59
It can be very complex, Andy, as we have already found out to our cost over the last few seasons.

Brands was supposed to reset or help redirect the whole club but then he jumped on the board, probably for a lot more money, and he told us all himself when he first arrived at Everton that money can make you lazy.

The outcome has been horrific and has affected every single team within the structure of the whole football club, but he possibly felt the nepotism that ran right through the club, and possibly chose to play along, rather than try and change things.

I'm very cynical. I absolutely abhor nepotism, and therefore can't wait for Everton Football Club to move in a completely different direction.

Jeff Armstrong
64 Posted 15/03/2024 at 19:23:54
So Tony 85, what’s your take on James Vaughan joining the coaching staff ?

Barry Rathbone
65 Posted 15/03/2024 at 19:30:16

You nailed it.

A data basher handing the printout to the manager is all that's needed if recruitment via stats is the name of the game.

As for a DoF dictating long-term philosophy of a club — I just don't buy it.

Tony Abrahams
66 Posted 15/03/2024 at 19:50:23
If you mean is it leaning towards nepotism, Jeff, I honestly don't quite view it like this mate, but I'm not sure James is going to be coaching because it looks he's going to be working in recruitment.

I'm surprised that any appointments have been made with the club looking likely to change hands in the very near future. I can't stress enough how important it is for Everton to start putting a lot more time, effort and energy into the 14 to 20 age bracket, so I hope that James Vaughan knows some very talented football coaches!

Robert Tressell
67 Posted 15/03/2024 at 20:14:30
The club ownership envisions the strategy, like at RB or Brighton. Not the DoF. The DoF oversees the implementation.

The coach / manager has nothing to do with it. Which is a good job because most don't last more than 18 months.

Tony Abrahams
68 Posted 15/03/2024 at 21:36:50
It simply needs a proper thought-out plan, Robert, it appears that we have fallen so far behind because of constantly sacking managers. I honestly believe it's that complex that we need to split the club into two separate entities to begin with right now.

I'd implement a long term style of play which will aid the development of younger players and then try and tie it in towards the senior team further down the line, in the future.

This is by no means ideal (it might even sound ridiculous) but with the new PSR rules around the corner, I don't think a club like Everton can afford to wait any longer, and we should already (as soon as we are bought) be looking towards making our academy successful to make sure we we don't fall foul of overspending again in the future.

Danny O’Neill
69 Posted 16/03/2024 at 06:15:33
We Tony.

Scratched record warning.

Go out into the community and nurture grass roots as well.

Set an example Everton and do something different. Don't lock all the potential good ones behind the gates of Finch Farm until a suitable age. Not aged 8.

Go out and help local players in their natural environment and let them enjoy the game. Help the coaches, mentor and coach players.

Everton in the football community.

Charles Ward
71 Posted 16/03/2024 at 08:36:37
Tony at 57,

I can remember John Gidman's dad coaching John on the local park but he wouldn't let him play with us ruffians in case we hacked him down.

And John went to the same primary school as Jimmy Case who was (in)famous as a 10-year-old as he would head the rain-sodden old school case ball.

And David, re Portugal, I recall the all-round bounder Collymore arsing around with a fire extinguisher with either RS or Villa.

Jason Li
72 Posted 16/03/2024 at 09:13:38
The recruitment strategy has since Moyes left been behind abysmal.

The only one thing that does work that is easiest to implement without needing to play office politics and have management jockying over who does what in a new structure, is making sure there is a budget each year to buy some U20s that are already playing professional football like Branthwaite, Garner and John Stones. It's where Everton do best when the recruitment & academy team are forced to bring in and develop a high potential young player. Some will be like Simms and sold for a decent profit, some will be like DCL a long term first team player eventually. The payoff is much greater in term of player ability and sale value if the player reaches close to their potential.

At least these players can paper over the mistakes of the signings of experienced expensive player who transfer in and have reached their full potential already. It probably will happen again in the future when finances pick up that millions are frittered away on an average player or two.

If the club wants to get in Europe in 3 years time as an example and start a sustainable model when finances improve, then worth considering these scenarios: Whether to buy 3 experienced very average players at £20 million annually that wouldn't get in any top 8 team which leads to a squad in a few seasons of players that wouldn't get into a top 8 team, or 2 at £20 million and 5 young high potential players that are two years away from being the best players in the Everton squad which is for two seasons of transfers in, then in season 3 of transfers in only young players that have top 6 potential. If the club are in Europe, only young players with top 4 potential and so on? Needs no big year long restructuring review and political navigation. Just a simple analysis of what works.

Once the club has decided on a good transfer strategy that can be worked on this summer, of course, the club needs to look at the a proper review of everything as posters on TW have said for many years.

Tony Abrahams
73 Posted 16/03/2024 at 09:16:23
That's how you could view certain parts of academy football, if you wanted to be cynical, Charles, with regards John Gidman's father protecting him from the rougher kids.

It's like watching two different sports. One is watching the less talented, getting stuck into each other, arguing, battling and telling their opponents they will fucking kill them, and when you watch football in the academy, it sometimes feels like the more intelligent footballers are being stopped from thinking for themselves!

It's all about finding the happy medium, although I think many people involved in the system would say Danny's suggestion makes a lot of sense, but it's all about finding the kids who might be worth a lot of money one day, and that seems to be more important than anything else.

Dave Abrahams
74 Posted 16/03/2024 at 09:42:54
Tony (64),

When I sent kids down to Nottm Forest for trials and training, I always told them the most important thing to use during training was their ears, listen and learn.

After watching Everton's young players from the Academy for the last few years, I think I gave those kids the wrong advice. In most of the games for Everton, they all seem to play the same way and any individual character traits are very rare.

That was one of the traits Liam Walsh had, he was always a team player with plenty of skill, fight and endeavour and he showed all of them. Ambition and injuries spoiled his chances at Everton, plus he never even got on the bench for Everton. He is still going at Swansea and making a good living but I thought he was one player who was going to be a big player for the Blues.

Brian Harrison
75 Posted 16/03/2024 at 09:52:04
We used to have at every club a head scout and a number of scouts working under him spread around the country. Obviously back then, there weren't many overseas players in the Premier League.

It was a simple system: a scout would go and watch a player a number of times and he would then get the head scout to come and have a look at the player.

Then, if he thought the player was one of note, he would recommend that the manager and his assistant go and look for themselves, and either make an offer or decide he wasn't what they wanted.

A simple system with no fancy DoF title, scouts looked for good players but didn't have any day-to-day involvement in first-team affairs and certainly would have no input into how the team should be set up.

Why someone decided we would create a new role for a DoF and give him as much say on transfers as the manager, makes no sense to me.

For those who suggest the managers these days don't have the time to do all the things past managers did, I would suggest that's nonsense. Managers back then had to deal with players contracts – they don't do that now.

They used to drive hundreds of miles a week looking at players but ,with today's technology, they can sit at home and watch numerous games and players.

Tony Abrahams
76 Posted 16/03/2024 at 09:55:03
It's very hard, Dave, unless we are just talking about it!

I do believe that it's all about having a strategy, and I feel sorry for Liam Walsh's group because they were coming through at a time when Everton were going through managers every 12 to 18 months. So, whatever strategy we might have had just went right out of the window.

One thing I would like to see change though is over-coaching young children. Teach them to try and understand themselves and also to try and master the ball instead!

Tony Abrahams
77 Posted 16/03/2024 at 10:03:00
When you stop and think about it, Brian, you make a lot of sense. Something has changed though, and it might be that because football is very much in the public eye, and at the very forefront in a lot of people's thoughts and minds now, that maybe it's become too much of a pressure cooker for a lot of the people involved?

I do think Everton's academy has really suffered with regards recruitment since Martin Waldron was sacked, because he seemed to be a very good delegator and is also an Evertonian to the core.

Brian Harrison
78 Posted 16/03/2024 at 10:17:30
Our Academy from U17 to U23 don't have one player selected in any group to represent England. So just shows how far we have fallen, and yet our neighbours seem to sweep up all the local talent who many progress to the first team, and obviously England call-ups along the way.

While I agree with Tony and Dave about the coaching of youngsters, I think sometimes they get over-coached. Most join clubs at age 8 – absolutely ridiculous – and then have coaching every week.

Also, by bringing in kids of that age to a professional club builds expectations in the kids, so when they are let go after a coupe of years, it must be very hard for young kids to accept after being told for years they were going to be amongst the elite.

Yes, there are kids who have been with clubs since they were youngsters and turn out to be top professionals, but if they had joined the clubs at 15, they would still have turned out as top professionals.

Robert Tressell
79 Posted 16/03/2024 at 14:48:55
Brian #78, it's a good observation.

Recognition by England youth is a decent indication of whether a player will make it or not. In recent years, it has really tailed off very badly – with Man City, Chelsea, Man Utd and Liverpool dominating – with good representation from the likes of Brighton and Saints.

The Liverpool academy is not full of local lads though - they recruit very heavily. For just their U18s and younger in the last few seasons they have bought the following as 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds:

- Misciur (Hull)
- Nyoni (Leicester)
- Nallo (West Ham)
- Doak (Celtic)
- Kone-Doherty (Derry)
- Trueman (Norwich)
- Clark (Newcastle)
- Gordon (Derby)
- Bradley (Dungannon)
- Stretch (Sheff Wed)
- Belmont (Brighton)
- Ennis (Man Utd)
- Paternoster (Spurs)
- Scanlon (Brum)
- Bajcetic (Celta Vigo)
- Farkas (Kecskemet)
- McConnell (Sunderland)
- Hewitson (Sunderland)

6 of these players are now in the first-team reckoning.

The point though is not always to provide players for the first team. The point is to get a player who can be traded for considerable profit within a few years - this creates a decent kitty for bigger purchases. Just as they did with Ibe, Solanke, Brewster etc.

The aim is to get these kids into the England youth set-up, out on loan, a few Premier League appearances etc and someone like Doak bought for £175,000 is suddenly worth £25m.

I can see therefore why Tony Abrahams very sensibly notes how hard it hit us when Waldron got the boot and we got a youth transfer ban. We couldn't participate in this and it set the academy back years. There's a lot of rebuilding to do.

David Hayes
80 Posted 16/03/2024 at 22:35:42
Paul # 55.

That's right, I remember James Vaughan out-scoring Michael Owen, Alan Shearer and Robbie Fowler. Or any Premier League contemporary. As a striker, he was on par with Danny Cadamarteri, ie, one memorable goal.

Yes, you don't have to be any good as a player if you have the aptitude, experience and respect of the next generation through depth of knowledge and charisma.

So, Mike Gaynes, you are conversely correct. The horse is in fact riding the jockey in the case of James Vaughan.

David Hayes
81 Posted 16/03/2024 at 23:20:48
So come you blinkered recidivists, name one successful appointment in the coaching set-up in the Academy or in the last 30 years. Which ex-player has consistently and progressively improved the standard to keep pace with the Premier League level?

Short memories and blind, jumpers-for-goalposts sentimentally, the very attribute that inspired such hatred for sad act Kenwright is alive and kicking when it comes to ex-players regardless.

How come 80% of the Premier League teams can get it consistently on par and we continually get it wrong every time?

John Connor
82 Posted 17/03/2024 at 20:45:02
With a seeming abundance of young players in many squads, not on the fringe of a regular first team place, eg, Liverpool, Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea, I wonder why Everton don't make bids for some of these players?

Not all will get a regular place in the next few years, become frustrated and want to move on. Why not now with Everton?

It is plain to see that some of the youngsters are very good indeed, prices will not be extortionate, the players may relish first-team regular starts.

Many positives, instead of looking for experienced players, who come at a price we can't afford, look at youth and take a chance. Otherwise, we will buy no-one of talent this close season, and struggle again (if we survive).

We need a new strategy for the next 2 or 3 years to steady the ship (recent plans have not worked) but, with the current players, I can only see a stormy sea for the foreseeable…

Stephen Davies
83 Posted 17/03/2024 at 20:56:57

I've often thought the same thing myself.

Not one Everton Youth Player has been called up for any of the England Youth teams during the latest call-ups.

Tom Bowers
84 Posted 17/03/2024 at 21:14:50
Young players with great potential don't get a fair whack unless they come through with a Top 6 team that can afford to put them in alongside world-class players.

Some will flourish and soon realize their skills such as Foden at Man City. Many other reasons can stunt their progress such as attitude and impatience. God knows Everton have had their share.

Branthwaite is a gem but for how long at Everton with the financial woes?

Hopefully the ''new deal'' goes through and it will help next season's aspirations (dare we have any?)

Dale Self
85 Posted 17/03/2024 at 21:27:54
A very good point, Tom.
Robert Tressell
86 Posted 17/03/2024 at 21:48:05
John, what you propose is a very sensible strategy. Man City, for example, have a lot of Premier League quality players who are just not quite good enough for their standards and are out on loan:

- Doyle (Leicester)
- Harwood-Bellis (Saints)
- Wilson-Esbrand (Cardiff)
- McAtee (Sheff Utd)
- Robertson (Portsmouth - we were linked in January)
- Hamilton

The latter is a really good player in their U21s who got a goalscoring cameo against Red Star Belgrade for the first team. Very talented wing forward / No 10 but probably won't make the grade there. I'd be very pleased to see him and McAtee join. Both good footballers.

Similar with Charlie Patino, Reiss Nelson and Brooke Norton-Cuffey at Arsenal and Shola Shoretire at Man Utd.

As it happens, we've started our recruitment early already for next season already and it's along these lines. 16-year-old Braiden Graham will join from Linfield – and there's a reasonable chance of Ceiran Loney (Partick Thistle), Omari Benjamin (Arsenal), Mason Melia (St Pats) and a few other teenagers since all are very strongly linked.

Michael Kenrick
87 Posted 24/03/2024 at 08:52:20
Our brilliant national press on the ball, I see:

Premier League's youngest scorer who bagged at 16 has new job almost 20 years later

This story is nearly 2 weeks old! Still, we should be grateful for the positive news coverage, I suppose.

Danny O’Neill
88 Posted 24/03/2024 at 08:54:30
What's that one, Michael?
Michael Kenrick
89 Posted 24/03/2024 at 09:00:27
Er... Danny...

The Star?

or James Vaughan?

Or both together. [Sorry I wasn't clear!]

Danny O’Neill
90 Posted 24/03/2024 at 09:13:52
Apologies, Michael, I didn't click on the link.

I am conservatively optimistic about James Vaughn.

I know I've been a critic about jobs for the boys in the past, but I hope he achieves success.

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