26/03/2024 85comments  |  Jump to last
England 2 - 2 Belgium

Jarrad Branthwaite will have to wait for the chance to press his claims for a spot in the senior England setup following another watching brief from the bench as Gareth Southgate’s team grabbed a last-gasp draw against Belgium.

Amadou Onana, starting for the Red Devils, laid on an 11th-minute opener for Youri Tielemans and the Aston Villa midfielder restored their lead from Romelu Lukaku’s cross after Ivan Toney had levelled matters from the spot following a foul by Jan Vertongen.

The Three Lions’ were heading for a second friendly defeat at Wembley of the current international break but Jude Bellingham netted in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Branthwaite was an unused substitute against the Brazilians and Southgate left him on the sidelines again this evening despite having to make a change at the back after just 10 minutes when John Stones was withdrawn and replaced by Joe Gomez.

Article continues below video content

Meanwhile, unlike against Brazil on Saturday when he made what was almost a vital save before Endrick knocked home the winner, this time Jordan Pickford was deemed to be at fault for Belgium’s first goal.

The keeper delivered a poor clearance straight to his Everton team-mate, Onana, who threaded it in to Tielemans to convert past the scrambling Pickford.

Elsewhere, Vitalii Mykolenko and Ukraine booked their place at Euro 2024 by beating Iceland but Wales were eliminated in heart-breaking fashion, losing 5-4 on penalties to Poland.

Meanwhile, Seamus Coleman was named man of the match in the Republic of Ireland's 1-0 home friendly defeat to Switzerland.


Reader Comments (85)

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Paul Ferry
1 Posted 26/03/2024 at 19:25:50
That England team v Belgium would not finish in the top 6 in the Premier League: Konsa, Dunk, Chilwell, Bowen, Mainoo, Toney. Bellingham sitting deep.

I feel for Branthwaite who would have wanted to start. Good for us but not for him,

David Cooper
2 Posted 26/03/2024 at 19:29:47
Looks like a Blues reunion! Lukaku, Fellaini, Onana, Pickford and Branthwaite. Sign of the quality of EFC compared to Luton, Sheffield, Burnley and Forest. If only we had Rom and Maru playing for us!
Mark Murphy
3 Posted 26/03/2024 at 19:59:18
Oops - Pickers will get pelters for that!
Allen Rodgers
4 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:06:12
Sloppy from Pickford but the knockers having a field day.
Paul Ferry
5 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:06:23
1-1 GET IN - ACE - INGERLAUND 'Toney Toney scores for free, off his toe or knee, Toney' INGERLAUND eat that yer chocolate munching clog hopping twats
Danny Baily
6 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:17:32
Stones injured for no reason. Not a big fan of international friendlies.
Danny O’Neill
7 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:22:54
Call me old fashioned or a traditionalist.

I have a passing interest for international football.

My OCD kicking in. If England wear white why are they wearing black at home? And if Belgium wear red, why are they wearing blue?


Paul Ferry
8 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:24:06
Boooooooooooo Lukaku you cloggy wobbler gangly wannabe striker - Dunk's good, isn't he? Looks like an international natural, made for this moment.
Les Callan
9 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:25:47
Danny @ 7. Money, money, money.
Mark Murphy
10 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:29:28
Stunning cross wasn’t it Paul?
Paul Ferry
11 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:33:12
He plays on the wing for Horsham doesn't he Mark? Ouch, Welsh goal chalked out, offside. That Polish slow clap scares the crap out of me.
Brent Stephens
12 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:33:24
What a cross from Lukaku. Slam dunk.
Mark Murphy
13 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:34:34

He basically receives the ball from his centre-back, controls it and passes it backwards.

I could play left back for England if that's all that's expected.
On the other side – I wish we'd signed Jarrod Bowen!

John Hall
14 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:34:58
Dinosaur Dunk beaten by Express train Lukaku.

Absolutely shite and our lad sits on the bench.

Let's hope United take deadbeat Southgate and we get a proper tactician in. Like watching paint dry, sideways and back sideways and back.

Southgate is miles off being a top manager but he speaks nicely and wears the right cloth. FA yes-man who never speaks his mind and always very conservative in his views.

Knows how to keep a cushy job in the gentleman's club which is the FA.

Was never a top player and will never be a top manager.

Has some very special players at his disposal but doesn't seem to know how to use them effectively. One plan playing his way or it's the highway.

This team set up the way he puts them out will win nought as his previous record shows.

Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:38:13
You're right Les.

It just looks odd.

Keep Branthwaite off the pitch.

Sorry, I'm just scarred by losing players once England taints them.

Paul Turner
16 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:39:24
Nathan Patterson is not playing well for Scotland...
Danny O’Neill
17 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:39:30
Fellaini the pundit. He's lost his wig.
Mark Murphy
18 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:41:05
Horsham?? Their fans are known as the lardy army because they take a pack of lard to all their games and have flags about it. Fucking kopite behaviour!

I support Broadbridge Heath FC. They play in blue, the guy on the gate is an Evertonian, and it's 10 minutes staggering door to door!

UTFT and UTFB (Bears)

Danny O’Neill
19 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:47:07
John @14

Hopefully he will go to the Dark Side.

Even better, Stevie Gee.

Mark. Lard, You'll have to explain to me!!! See you soon mate.

Andrew Grey
20 Posted 26/03/2024 at 20:47:23
That's the Google pixel 8 off my shopping list then.
Brent Stephens
21 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:01:17
The Binman just shown on the Wales game. Could swear he was sitting in 2 seats.
Edward Rogers
22 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:05:01
Onana having a quietly effective game. Need to bring Henderson on, that Foden is rubbish!!!!!!!
Mark Murphy
23 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:09:22
Soooo Danny.

I don't know the origins of it but apparently Horsham fans call themselves the Lardy Army and take a pack of lard to all games. There are three blokes, the “leaders”who dress up in yellow and green butcher's aprons / lab coats who place the lard on the dug out roof and do an incantation along the lines of “All praise the Lard…”

I was in a local pub when Horsham played Barnsley in the cup recently and didn't realise there was a game on. I was chatting to some Barnsley fans telling them how I nearly got crushed at their place back in the 80s. I went to the bar and these three blokes, dressed as above, came in and put a block of lard on the bar and started doing this stupid incantation. “All praise the Lard, the lard is good” etc.

I told them they were fucking loopy and acting like kopites and they accused me of disrespecting the Lard! Fucking knobs the lot of 'em.

The Barnsley fans just took the piss relentlessly though I later heard that most of them were ejected before half-time. Not surprising as I was in the pub at 3 pm and it was a 7.45 kick off!

Mark Murphy
24 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:19:08

I think I may be doing Onana a disservice when I say he's not putting it in for Everton. He's a good player but he's not putting it in for Belgium either. I don't actually see what he brings to the game.

Maybe I'm over-critical but he's just a talented technically gifted player who just doesn't seem to actually enhance, nor weaken, a team?? Am I being unfair??

Les Callan
25 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:22:13
Not a bit Mark, not a bit.
Kunal Desai
26 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:22:53
At the game, so fucking boring. More interesting watching the kids throw paper aeroplanes on to the pitch and into the crowds.
Edward Rogers
27 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:28:10
No Mark, I agree He's yet to prove he's worth what we paid for him let alone the inflated figures I see bandied about. Just feel he's had a decent game tonight, Are we using him correctly? Think he'd be easier to replace than Branthwaite tho' if we have to sell to survive, but would rather they both stay.
Mike Gaynes
28 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:38:25
Ukraine qualifies for the Euros. Well done.

Poland and Wales into ET. 0-0.

Jack Convery
29 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:38:52
Lukaku, Stones, Gordon, Onana, Pickford and the invisible Branthwaite. Fellaini in the studio. A good turnout for blues past and present. Onana quietly effectivplus an assist, Pickford cock up but better in a friendly, Lukaku being Lukaku with a peach of a cross. Stone injured - again, Gordon a bit part tonight and Branthwaite getting better just by sitting on the bench, given Dunks howler.

England have to stop thinking everything has to go through Bellingham. Use the space he creates by drawing players to him.

Tielamans MOTM and can't get a game at Villa !

and then Hey Jude delivers !!

Christy Ring
30 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:39:24
Coleman picked Mo’M again tonight two in a row and can’t get his place back??
Mike Gaynes
31 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:41:28
Christy he should absolutely be playing instead of Godfrey or Young.
Paul Smith
32 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:42:26
Bellingham and Kane the only word class players England have. Foden still to shine as an international. Chillwell, Maddison, Dunk and Gordon are typical for Southgate during friendlies and should be left at home.
Danny O’Neill
33 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:44:28
A few observations.

Do pointless international friendlies matter?

Pickford coming out of his box more. Why can't he do that for us? Tactics?

Onana, although not everyone's favourite and not the most creative has a great recovery tackle on him.

Sorry, I just don't do England.

Jack Convery
34 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:48:16
Come on Wales FFS.
Mark Murphy
35 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:48:38
Paul, I personally think Declan Rice is a cracking player.

Should be playing for Ireland.

Danny O’Neill
36 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:50:51
Agree Mark.

Declan Rice is a very good player.

I wasn't sure to start with but he is a midfield enforcer.

Andy Crooks
37 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:51:51
Christy, if Seamus had been playing relegation would no longer be an issue. It is beyond belief that he is left out.
Mark Murphy
38 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:52:11
Danny, on your Pickford point, the commentator said something along the lines of “pickfords distribution is why Southgate selects him”?
What a load of bollocks!
Paul Smith
39 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:57:17
Yes mark agree. Rice is top class.
Andrew McLawrence
40 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:57:55
Pickford mistake, Nathan Patterson mistake. Nuff said.
Jack Convery
41 Posted 26/03/2024 at 21:59:50
If Branthwaite was at a sly six side he'd be a shoe in. Dunk and Maguire, I ask you.

Declan Rice very underrated. The type of player Catterick and Kendal 1, would have bought in a heartbeat.

Wales looking like it's going to penalties.

Tom Bowers
42 Posted 26/03/2024 at 22:09:19
Southgate is a rubbish manager and even if Branthwaite was not in the squad I would still say Maguire and Dunk are not up to snuff.

I am happy Jarred didn't play at this time as his time will come and Everton need his presence right now.

A pity Picks and Onana got the assists on the Belgians first goal but I would prefer picks to screw up for England than Everton.

It's quite obvious that Southgate picks players that get press mentions at club level and he wants the support of the press. He should have quit last year when it was expected.
Some players despite good club form cannot step up at international level.

The wins that elevated Southgate were usually against much lower rated opposition but he rarely does well against the upper echelon teams.

Just hope Onana is okay for the Bournemouth game.

Peter Mills
43 Posted 26/03/2024 at 22:10:06
Wales game has been interesting whilst never exciting.
Mike Gaynes
44 Posted 26/03/2024 at 22:17:43
Wow. Mepham sent off in the final 15 seconds of ET. And on to pens.

Pete, that's how Sarah describes me. Except she never says "whilst."

Tony Abrahams
45 Posted 26/03/2024 at 22:24:02
Two physically strong and very fit teams, Peter. Nothing wrong with anyone's first touch, but both of those teams lacked real quality.
Mike Gaynes
46 Posted 26/03/2024 at 22:29:25
Sorry, Wales.
Mike Doyle
47 Posted 26/03/2024 at 22:41:02
Tom 42,

Do you mean step down to international level?
Most half-decent teams qualify for the enlarged finals tournaments these days. England's problem is that, as soon as they come up against a decent team, they lose.

I saw a stat before the last World Cup that England have never beaten a Top 10 ranked team in any tournament played outside England.

Neil Lawson
48 Posted 26/03/2024 at 22:41:15
I have just watched Wales with the Welsh commentary on. I understood about 1 word in 30 but it was far more enjoyable and informative than listening to the usual English commentators and pundits droning on about running the channels and going in behind blah blah blah.

Such a shame for Wales. What a crowd. Such brilliant support.

Had they not been playing I would probably have watched reruns of A Place in the Sun rather than England. Ridiculous that Branthwaite didn't get at least 20 minutes but at least he hasn't been injured.

Onwards to Saturday and return of angst.

Peter Mills
49 Posted 26/03/2024 at 23:04:41
Mike #44, for “whilst”, read “sadly”, “yet again, disappointingly”, “really?”. It happens to us all!

Neil #48, I had the commentary on subtitles – believe me, “Wales will want to win this one” comes out just as feeble.

Nick Page
50 Posted 26/03/2024 at 23:27:03
Slow news day?
Kieran Kinsella
51 Posted 27/03/2024 at 01:06:50
Mike @44,

About 10 years ago, I was commissioned to write a series of articles for a major US Newspaper and my editor like you was a Chicagoan.

I submitted my first article and received a curt response that simply said “whilst is not a word.” I sent a lengthy response and so began a very brief very antagonistic professional relationship which quickly saw us both reassigned to a different editor and writer.

Mike Gaynes
52 Posted 27/03/2024 at 01:31:01
That's pretty funny, Kieran.

The curtness you cited is uniquely Chicagoan. So, I presume, were some of the names he called you.

Nonetheless, the editor was technically correct. In both the AP Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style, the two Bibles for American journalism, "whilst" would be flagged as erroneous.

What were the articles about?

Mike Gaynes
53 Posted 27/03/2024 at 01:53:27
Mike #47, I can tell you with absolute certainty that isn't true, because England beat Argentina in the World Cup group stage in 2002.

I'm certain because it won me a bet with a friend in the San Francisco over-35 PAPY league. I bet him $20 against a real Argentina national team shirt.

I still have the shirt, and I'm confident in its authenticity because the friend was Nicky Kempes, Mario's cousin. He was incandescent with rage, convinced -- as I presume he remains to this day -- that the game was fixed by the referee. Some towering, bald, bug-eyed Italian whose name I can't recall.

Derek Knox
54 Posted 27/03/2024 at 04:24:27
Les @ 9, thought that was Abba ! :-)
Danny O’Neill
55 Posted 27/03/2024 at 06:04:29
It's been a long wait.

I don't care if Branthwaite played for England or not. I just hope he's ready to play against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Welsh hearts broken. I have a soft spot for Wales having served there for four years.

Charles Ward
56 Posted 27/03/2024 at 08:56:12
When you think about it, what would Branthwaite learn partnered with Dunk and coached by Southgate?

It'd set his development back a couple of years.

Anthony Dove
57 Posted 27/03/2024 at 09:05:54
Agreed, Charles @56, but I am not sure it would have been great for his confidence to have been the only defender not to have got on the pitch over the two games.

Southgate is
out of the same mould as Dyche and Moyes and I wouldn't
want him anywhere near Everton.

Mike Doyle
58 Posted 27/03/2024 at 09:54:21
Mike 53, You are correct. In my haste, I incorrectly recalled the stat.

What I should have said is that, in the 11 World Cup Finals England have taken part in since 1966, we have never beaten a team that was ranked higher than us – in the knockout stages.

Apparently we have lost three times to Germany, twice to Argentina and once each to Italy, Brazil and Portugal.

We have only managed to beat Denmark (ranked 20), Senegal (18), Columbia (16) and Sweden (24) in the latter stages of the competition. We were also beaten by Croatia (20) in the 2018 semi-final.

I also recall a UK bookmaker, before the last World Cup, saying how much the betting industry enjoys England drawing a top-ranked team in the latter stages of the World Cup.

Paul Cherrington
59 Posted 27/03/2024 at 10:00:49
You just know that Branthwaite would've been playing every game if he was at one of the FA's favourite clubs. Watch him become an automatic pick if he ever goes to Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal etc... but will never get a game or a proper chance when still with us.

Another example of how the game now is anything but fair and honest. Does anyone really think Maguire would be playing every game if he wasn't at Man Utd?!! Or that Mainoo would be straight in if he wasn't playing there too?

Charles Ward
60 Posted 27/03/2024 at 10:20:26
Paul, it's not about fairness or honesty but simple favouritism and cronyism.

Previously Tottenham were the FA's favourite unwarranted pick for internationals; now it's Man Utd.

Paul Hewitt
61 Posted 27/03/2024 at 10:39:19
Personally I'm glad Branthwaite didn't play a minute. He comes back to Finch Farm injury free.
Brian Harrison
62 Posted 27/03/2024 at 10:44:31
I am pretty ambivalent when it comes to watching England, but this England team look really exciting going forward.

Bellingham must be amongst the best midfield players in World football. Also, I was very impressed with Mainoo, nice to see him looking to carry the ball forward. Foden is a class act might, he not have had his best game but he is so talented. And I have been saying for a while what a good player Bowen is, no doubt he will replace Salah in the summer.

Defensively we looked weak but I can understand why Southgate didn't bring Branthwaite on, and instead tried what he thought were tried and trusted Premier League defenders. I felt a bit sorry for Rice as it would have been hard to lose a game England dominated.

Len Hawkins
63 Posted 27/03/2024 at 11:27:04
I can't understand why Southgate picked Branners for the squad for two "Friendly" games and didn't give him a minute in either game.

The Hero of the Greek Police "Do you know who I am" Maguire can't buy a game at Man Utd yet he is played in both games!

If I was Branthwaite, I'd check for grandma's and grandad's past holiday destinations or else ask Pep or Carlo to adopt him.

Danny O’Neill
64 Posted 27/03/2024 at 11:27:30
Paul @59,

If you look back, Howard Kendall never played a senior match for England and Colin Harvey played once. Against Malta.

Before my time but even when successful, we have never been popular.

I think the only time was when there was a significant Everton presence was against Argentina in Mexico 1986.

Four players in the lineup. Okay Lineker was on his way out and poor Peter Reid was chasing a lost cause trying to catch Maradona.

I think Bob Latchford only played a handful of games. We just aren't liked despite the quality of player.

I sound paranoid, but even as a youngster, I never connected with England. I know I've mentioned it before, but after a family event this week, I was talking with my relatives. Second generation Liverpool-Irish on one side. Northern Irish and Scottish on the other. All eventually landed in Liverpool.

I just don't feel the connection with England. I call myself British.

Anyway, at least Branthwaite will be available to play for Everton at Bournemouth. That's more important to me.

Tony Abrahams
65 Posted 27/03/2024 at 12:51:00
Peter Reid never played until Christmas after that game, Danny (a broken bone in his ankle or foot, I think) and England wouldn't have got past the group stages if Robson's shoulder hadn't gone again or Ray Wilkins hadn't been sent off against Portugal.

Bobby Robson had Reid right down the pecking order, even though he was the best English midfielder around that time.

Danny O’Neill
66 Posted 27/03/2024 at 13:14:08
Peter Reid had that perfect balance, Tony. Combative and ferocious but could play. And although he didn't wear the armband, wasn't shy in barking the orders out!

He's another who, like you say, went down the England pecking order because he didn't play for Manchester United or Liverpool.

I imagine Paul Bracewell's few England appearances were blighted by injury otherwise he surely would have appeared more? I liked watching him just behind my obvious.

I hope Branthwaite does well and goes on to succeed for his country and Everton. I just get nervous when Everton players go to the England set-up.

Right now, starting Saturday, I'll just enjoy Branthwaite whilst we have him. A joy to watch. So calm and composed. You wouldn't believe he was 21.

Tony Abrahams
67 Posted 27/03/2024 at 14:09:26
I wonder if Gareth Southgate would get his team playing less conservatively if they had two genuine and very good centre defenders, Danny!!
Danny O’Neill
68 Posted 27/03/2024 at 16:15:55
He defies his years, Tony.

Most I speak to don't think we'll hold onto him.

My hope is that his dad is apparently often in the Winslow and said he's going nowhere.

We'll see. Just get the winner in the derby, Jarrad.

Tony Abrahams
69 Posted 27/03/2024 at 17:11:18
If that happens Danny, then his dad definitely won’t be going anywhere because he will be getting locked in the Winslow, all night!!
Paul Birmingham
70 Posted 27/03/2024 at 17:38:53
At this time I've very happy Branthwaite didn't play. Everton is the one and only Team.

The task of securing survival and getting as many possible points, in view of what Masters may sanction, is the most important aspect for Everton.

Survival this season and onto better times. That would be a great day.

Jay Harris
71 Posted 27/03/2024 at 17:51:05
Doesn’t seem like Pickford or Patterson got much motivation from the trip away.

A real shame that Jarrad didn't get any time as he could have been back at Finch Farm with the lads instead of being chatted up by Foden and Maguire.

Paul Ferry
72 Posted 27/03/2024 at 18:28:42
It might be, Len (63) and others, that Southgate wanted to give Branthwaite the experience and learning curve of being with the squad and its sessions/talks and that was why he was on. the bench. This would not be the first time.

The idea that he did not get on the pitch because of some fecking conspiracy or anti-Evertonitis is just utterly silly and makes us look utterly silly.

Who does Pickford play for?

Charles Ward
73 Posted 27/03/2024 at 19:01:24
Paul, in some respects Jarrad being on the bench and witnessing the lumpen performances from Dunk and Maguire will have done his long-term education a world of good.

As in, do the opposite to those two oil tankers.

Robert Tressell
74 Posted 27/03/2024 at 20:51:01
Another boring England senior game. But what about the England U21s? Although it was only Luxembourg in opposition, we played some superb football. Pick of the England players were Harvey Elliot and Noni Madueke who were absolutely sensational. But there were classy contributions all over the park.

To me, it highlights just how good kids coming through the likes of the City academy are – and why, sadly, we massively overestimate the ability of players coming through the vastly inferior academy at Everton.

It is no surprise that we have no-one in the U21s set up (and indeed no-one other than the GK Lukjanciks in the England youth set up all the way down to U16s).

I've made myself unpopular on the Harry Tyrer thread and I'll repeat the unpopular opinion here that I'd be surprised if our next homegrown first-teamer is currently older than 15.

That said, we might certainly do well to pick up the likes of Brooke Norton-Cuffey, James McAtee and Callum Doyle if available over the summer. And the same can be said of a bunch of younger academy players at other clubs who are all out of contract in the summer.

Paul Ferry
75 Posted 28/03/2024 at 05:29:12
Charles, I couldn't agree more. I actually think that our Jarrad might well be heading back north with a spring in his step mate.

Danny O’Neill
76 Posted 28/03/2024 at 06:28:55
Paul @72, Charles @73,

I agree. It will have been a good experience for him being on the training ground. And observing that even at 21, he is far better than Dunk and Maguire. Let's enjoy him while we can.

Robert Tressell, you made me think about U21s. Not just Everton, but England. I believe it is getting better, but it doesn't always translate and the step up is huge.

I remember John Ebbrell coming through. England youth captain and hailed as the next greatest thing. I think at the time, given what we'd been used to, we were clutching at straws.

He had heart and spirit, but just not what we had been used to, although in fairness, we had been used to Reid, Sheedy, Steven and Bracewell. He was a decent player, but never quite lived up to expectations in my opinion. Obviously that depends on what your expectations are.

There are countless examples – that many I could roll off… Tony Grant springs to mind.

I think Man City have a good model, but they've built a framework under the stewardship of Guardiola.

Robert Tressell
77 Posted 28/03/2024 at 08:06:09
Danny, the revamp of the Man City academy was put in place while Manuel Pellegrini was in charge (albeit by the club, not by Pellegrini himself). It all pre-dates Guardiola – but was designed to attract him to the club knowing he would be the beneficiary of the output of the academy, with players of exceptional technique and tactical maturity. Like he was familiar with from La Masia at Barcelona.

Guardiola has certainly benefited, not only with the likes of Bobb, Foden, Lewis and others being regular first teamers - but also from £378m generated by academy player sales, which has increased his transfer kitty massively.

Perhaps because managers used to run the whole show years ago, I think they are credited still for things that clubs are doing.

For example I saw a comment recently to say that we should thank Ancelotti for bringing Branthwaite to the club. Branthwaite was signed while Ancelotti was in charge but the manager had nothing to do with the signing. In fact I'd be surprised if Ancelotti had ever heard of a 16-year-old playing in the English 4th tier – since he had apparently never heard of Doucouré (an established Premier League first teamer).

It's the same with the heavy recruitment to the City academy – none of this has anything to do with Guardiola.

Danny O’Neill
78 Posted 28/03/2024 at 08:29:42
To my point on various pages, Robert. It's about the strategy and system.

The manager is the figurehead, but it's what goes on behind the scenes that builds the framework. The manager can give direction, state what he wants, but it's down to those in the background that make it happen.

I don't think it has ever been different.

Charles Ward
79 Posted 28/03/2024 at 09:20:15
Just looking at the success of Man City's and Liverpool's academies, a lot of it is down to development of players for a particular style of play.

This can only be achieved by having a specific style of first team football (backed up by effective and consistent club management).

Both clubs' managers have been in control for about 8 years so those 13/14 year olds are now starting to blossom and to be available for the first team having been in and around that constructive atmosphere for all of their post-pubescent years.

How many managers have we had in that time?

No wonder our academy struggles to produce even a player who can come on for the last 10 minutes to ease tiring legs.

Robert Tressell
80 Posted 28/03/2024 at 11:13:14
Danny # 78, that's it though – the manager doesn't set the direction anymore, the club does (or indeed the international network of clubs as is the case with Man City).

Guardiola is a visible figurehead for the first team at City – but he doesn't run the very extensive show of operations beyond the first team (the tie up with Girona, the scouting network in South America, clubs in Australia and the MLS), the academy etc etc.

That all happens irrespective of manager, because it's the club's strategy, led by the less visible people who really run the show and to whom Guardiola is accountable for the bit he does run.

Tony Abrahams
81 Posted 28/03/2024 at 11:31:40
Everton brought in Brands, and sacked the boss of the academy, around the same time.

Waldron has/had a massive amount of influence and also a very big scouting network, whereas Brands would have been brand new, considering he was coming to work in a different country.

You have got to try and align rather than isolate but my own repetitive view is that the standard of coaching has got to really improve, imo.

They can all run, they can all shoot, they have all got a good first touch (otherwise they shouldn't be there) so go and do something a little bit different, and maybe we might even reap some rewards?

Danny O’Neill
82 Posted 28/03/2024 at 11:41:40
If there is one word in that, Tony, it's "coaching"

When I coached, I wanted to mentor and teach players to improve. I got dismayed at some of the so-called coaches who I stood alongside screaming with rage at kids. Some of the coaches couldn't kick a ball.

I'm not suggesting I was the best player, but I could at least step in, demonstrate and coach, bring out the best and improve players.

Robert Tressell
83 Posted 28/03/2024 at 14:16:11
Sadly (and topically), it seems that Man City are on the brink of pinching 15-year-old left-back Jayden Lienou from us. He's a Welsh U15 and U16 youth international who also qualifies for Cameroon.

So my prediction that our next regular first-teamer from the academy is currently no older than 15 might have just been scuppered. He might now be no older than 14.

Unless we do sort out the academy big time (and the club as a whole), it is going to be really difficult to retain our most promising players. If Rooney was coming through now, he'd probably have been coaxed away by Man City when he was about 11.

In some respects, the good news might be that City's academy produces so much Premier League and International quality talent, but it still isn't good enough to actually play for Man City. Just from their academy, about a dozen regular England, Scotland and other youth internationals will be out of contract June 2024.

Pick of them is Micah Hamilton, who could be a great signing for us. He's a 20-year-old left winger / Number 10 and their U21 captain. Played and scored against Red Star Belgrade for them in Europe but unlikely to ever make the grade there. I suspect he'd walk into our First XI.

But there really are loads more. I was going to list them out but there really are about 12 or so just from their U21 team. All regular youth internationals, but most (maybe all) never going to come close to making it at City.

Tony Abrahams
84 Posted 28/03/2024 at 15:39:03
The unsubstantiated rumours were that Man City had a big bag of money waiting in the car for Wayne Rooney's parents, Robert, and because everyone does it I think Everton were very naive in jumping the gun and getting rid of Martin Waldron.

Coaching, Danny, plus the overall philosophy of the whole football club. Be humble and have respect, but once you cross that white line, it should always be about winning.

Sorry I'm gonna mention Liverpool, but winning is ingrained into the culture of that club, and they don't give a fuck how they do it.

Paul Evans
85 Posted 31/03/2024 at 04:48:30
It always feels to me like Everton players are called up to the England squad for no reason at all. Many of our players get called up and never get on the pitch!

Surely the point of friendlies is to try things, yet it's the same players getting in.

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