Ancelotti wants to have a close look at U23 talent

Tuesday, 18 Febuary, 2020 68comments  |  Jump to last

There are indications that Carlo Ancelotti wants to take a good look at new acquisition, Jarrad Branthwaite, and other highly regarded U23 players as he continues to assess his squad.

Branthwaite and Kyle John were both absent from the Under-23s' excellent 2-1 win over Derby County at Goodison Park on Monday evening after playing in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Finch Farm the day before.

They are both set to continue training with the first team during the winter break as Ancelotti prepares for next Sunday's game at The Emirates Stadium.

The Italian had wanted to "have a look" at Branthwaite, a January signing from Carlisle United in League Two, with John and Alex Denny all taking part in the 60-minute practice match which was arranged chiefly to help André Gomes regain match-fitness.

David Unsworth saw this as yet more attrition of his playing resources for the Under-23s in what has proved to be a difficult season as PL2 Champions but, undeterred, he was able to engineer a fine win against a resilient Derby County side at Goodison Park last night, with youngsters Joe Anderson and Manasse Mampala stepping up from the U18s, Mampala getting the opening goal of the contest.


Reader Comments (68)

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Ajay Gopal
1 Posted 18/02/2020 at 13:54:57
I like Carlo's approach to adding to the squad – he is not a ‘cheque book' manager like many pundits told us he would be. He could turn out to be the single most important investment the club has made, perhaps as important as Bramley-Moore Dock.
Mark Guglielmo
2 Posted 18/02/2020 at 14:14:14
What Ajay said.

I'm not used to all this calculated planning on multiple fronts.

Minik Hansen
3 Posted 18/02/2020 at 14:19:58
Well, anything can happen, I guess. Look at David Luiz (regardless of his current form), stepping up from Division 4 or something in Brazil.

I'm just hoping Branthwaite can step up this summer, Mina and Holgate getting better, and we won't have to look somewhere else this summer, unless Keane or any of the above leaves.

Frank Crewe
4 Posted 18/02/2020 at 14:22:27
I suppose it is unfortunate that Unsworth sees this as an attrition to his U23 side. But, at the end of the day, all the sides below the first team exist to supply the first team with players and thereby save the club money by not having to by those players.
Jerome Shields
5 Posted 18/02/2020 at 14:38:21
It has been reported on ToffeeWeb from well informed sources in the past that the Academy was playing a different style of football than the main squad throughout the Silva era.

Given the circumstances we all know about under the FFP rules, it is only natural that Ancelotti with his experience will want to develop the under-developed resources of the Academy – something that Silva failed to do and Brands seems to have been a damp squid at.

Again, those in charge at the Academy come under scrutiny in their comfortable roles, maybe there is another Duncan bidding his time for years, to finally come forward?

With some of the consistent inadequacies of some of the first-team squad and the risks of the transfer market, it may be easier to teach a promising youngster new tricks and overhaul the Academy to do this.

It will interesting to see how Ancelotti works Rhino. . .

Martin Nicholls
6 Posted 18/02/2020 at 14:53:56
Is there any evidence as to how Unsworth saw this? If indeed he did see it as "attrition of his playing resources" (which I somehow doubt) then he needs reminding that the main, almost sole, purpose of our academy is to produce players for the first team, not to produce a team to win PL2!
Brent Stephens
7 Posted 18/02/2020 at 14:54:06
I guess Unsie isn't being critical in talking about attrition of his resources. These are Everton FC resources and his role is to develop them for possible progression to Carlo's first-team squad. U23s winning trophies is encouraging but I'm sure Unsie sees the U23s as a means to an end, not an end in themselves.
Kevin Prytherch
8 Posted 18/02/2020 at 14:54:58
Unsworth said: "He [Branthwaite] trained with the first team in that game. The manager wanted to have a look at him so he trained with Kyle John in that game, and they'll be training with the first team tomorrow [Tuesday].

"So again we lose a couple of players late, but Joe [Anderson] and Manasse [Mampala] came in and did a great job.

"We adjusted, but it's great that they're getting the exposure at first-team level, it's what it's all about.

Brent Stephens
9 Posted 18/02/2020 at 14:54:58
Martin - snap! Beat me to it!
Martin Nicholls
10 Posted 18/02/2020 at 15:05:14
Brent #9 - great minds!
Jay Wood

11 Posted 18/02/2020 at 15:06:26
All too brief highlights of the U23s win over Derby last night, just showcasing the goals:


Martin Nicholls
12 Posted 18/02/2020 at 15:06:32
Kevin #8 – thanks.
John Keating
13 Posted 18/02/2020 at 15:06:48
Ajay @1 – I fully agree.

If we hopefully manage to get a European spot, we will need to utilise our squad to the fullest, and as FFP may inhibit close-season spending, we may need to utilise some of our youngsters.

Carl Manning
14 Posted 18/02/2020 at 15:14:21
Lewis Gibson will step up next season. His loan at Fleetwood, who are chasing promotion, seems to have already brought him on. He stands out a mile in every game. They have conceded just once and won all 5 games since he arrived.
Robert Tressell
15 Posted 18/02/2020 at 15:33:03
Thanks, Carl – interesting re Gibson. I was a bit disappointed he dropped down to Fleetwood level but great if he shines. I suspect a loan to a Championship club next season, though, rather than the Everton first-team squad?

Anyway, this is yet more of Carlo showing how to do things properly. Great guy. If we can fill up squad places with a few youngsters, then it all helps team spirit and it helps make sure we spend money only on those who take us up a notch.

Sheesh, Silva was really out of his depth with us.

Alan J Thompson
16 Posted 18/02/2020 at 15:37:23
This is what a Manager has to do, see what resources he has at his disposal, particularly as has been rumoured that the man who should know them best is off at the end of the season. It also gives him some idea of the calibre of player appealing to the DoF should he wish to discuss the matter with him.

I seem to remember it being reported that Koeman had almost to be carried screaming to the one U-23 game he attended at Prenton Park. Alan Ball always said he used to look forward to the regular games at Bellefield when the 1st XI played the youth team.

Robert Tressell
17 Posted 18/02/2020 at 15:46:41
Koeman never wanted the Everton job. He lost interest after year 1 and just hung on in there to get paid off. Shame.
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
18 Posted 18/02/2020 at 15:55:24
Shall we try dissect David Unsworth's comments... because I think there is a different problem.

"So again we lose a couple of players late, but Joe [Anderson] and Manasse [Mampala] came in and did a great job."

Is he complaining that U23 players are playing in the first team? I would hope not! He is a teacher trying to improve the grades of his pupils and he should be looking for a good year-end bonus for doing a good job.

I take it that he is complaining that, having prepared the team (not his team, the team) to play Derby, he suddenly lost players. I would complain. But I would be complaining that our club's internal communication is so poor that he did not know what "the first-team department" were doing.

It does show a lack of planning, a lack of consultation, a lack of working together within the club. Where is the monthly meeting, even weekly meeting, with Unsworth and Ancelotti to discuss players, with Unsworth and Paul Tait? Players should be reviewed on a weekly and at worst monthly basis.

Then we would not have to try to work out if there are any tensions behind the scenes.

Danny O'Neill
19 Posted 18/02/2020 at 16:14:18
You touch on a really good point in your opening paragraph, Jerome (@5). I think it was obvious that the U23s and first team under Silva and Unsworth were totally playing different styles. In fairness, we are / were probably not alone in that. A lot (if not most) of the Premier League clubs only really focus on the first team.

Didn't Newcastle actually bin the reserves for a couple of seasons a while back?? Bear in mind “a few years” could be 20 as I get older & the decades become blurred!!!

When you get a manager who implements a system from youth through to first team and insists on it, everything becomes a natural step up (or down) rather than a huge leap. Players know what to expect so it becomes more a case of “same shit, different players”.

It is the reason why so many of our U23s can look good at that level but then appear proverbial rabbits in headlights when they step up. Within reason, they are one player in a team of 11 and if they have the talent and understand the system, they should, in theory, slot in relatively seamlessly.

Dare I say on these hallowed virtual corridors, we unfortunately have the perfect example when we look across the park. Klopp has a coaching and playing system in place throughout the club, top to bottom, left to right, corner to corner. I know there are other factors, but this is important if you genuinely want to leverage the academy system.

It pains me to praise them, but they are great example and the outcome is evident: none of Liverpool's youngsters look out of place when they step up because they know what is expected, having being coached, day-in & day-out, exactly the same as the 1st team. It is a natural progression to the extent they can even put an entire team of kids out and win – just as we most painfully experienced.

I would argue their kids are not necessarily more capable or naturally gifted than ours; they are simply drilled in the system, therefore make the transition much more effortlessly.


Phill Thompson
20 Posted 18/02/2020 at 16:28:19
Without really knowing, I saw this as opportunistic on Carlo's part; he wanted a game for Gomes and needed a couple of players. Branthwaite he'd be aware of but probably not seen, John is interesting depending on whether he was playing right-back or right-midfield.

I'd have hoped Unsworth saw this as an opportunity to meet a challenge set. It wasn't ideal if at short notice but he had adequate cover: both Foulds and Anderson can do left centre-back or left-back; Astley is a centre-back.

Or even change the system and go 4-4-2 with Mampala alongside Simms with the other 4 midfielders he played. It should hardly have been a big deal for Unsworth.

Per Stumo
21 Posted 18/02/2020 at 16:31:04
Carl @14 & Robert @15:

It's worth noting that we have two defenders playing for Fleetwood as Callum Connolly (age 22) is there on a season-long loan as well. In the 2-1 victory over Peterborough they seemingly lined up with a back three consisting of Connolly on the right and Gibson on the left.

Maybe those two knowing each other and having played together is part of Fleetwood's defensive improvement since Gibson's arrival?

Brian Wilkinson
22 Posted 18/02/2020 at 17:37:40
Just shows how forward we have come since Koeman, we have a top class Manager who bonds well with the whole squad.

Under Koeman, he would not give the time of day to the U23s either training or eating at Finch Farm.

With Carlo, he is not only managing the first team, he seems to have time for everyone from the first team, the U23s, right down to the supporters.

I can see Carlo still being here as we move into our new stadium; it's been a long long time since we had this togetherness at Everton. A big mention has to go to Dunc who started it all off.

Stan Schofield
23 Posted 18/02/2020 at 18:44:59
Danny @19: Agree 100%. The main thing is how players are organised as a team, and if there is common organisation down the levels from the first team, it's pretty much blindingly obvious that the chances of successfully moving youngsters into the first team are improved.

This is good news that Ancelotti is looking closely at the Under-23s. It's been a constant issue for some time that young British players don't get the chances they could get, because of buying in foreign players, with all the massive escalation in transfer fees that has accompanied it. Perhaps this will now start to change, with more emphasis on bringing through home-grown talent. After all, home-grown talent is no less talented than the imported variety.

Tony Everan
24 Posted 18/02/2020 at 18:54:21
It's good for the morale and motivation of these young players. The manager is interested, and wants to see first-hand the talent that we have in the U23s. For me, there is nothing better in football than seeing one of our youngsters stepping up to the first team and being successful. Also, with all these FFP rules and regulations we will need a bit more of it.

Whatever the necessity of the exercise to give Gomes minutes, it has to be thought of as a good thing. Carlo will be left with impressions of some of the young players and their development will be near the forefront of his mind over the coming months.

It's good for the club that the young lads know that there is no glass ceiling and, if they are good enough, they will get a chance.

Joe McMahon
25 Posted 18/02/2020 at 18:56:22
Martin @6, bang on there!

Ajay @1, they ain't started even building it yet.

Aidan Baker
26 Posted 18/02/2020 at 19:29:23
The success of Ancelotti's approach will only be seen with time but the equation has already been commented on by Brands at the AGM, ie, getting players through into the first team, whether this be a direct passage, as has been the case with Davies, Gordon and Calvert-Lewin or by well-structured loan spells in-between (Holgate). Some drop off a bit on the loan spells like Baningime, though looking at him captaining the U23 team last night, I was reminded that he is the nearest in playing style to the departed Gueye and he seems to be returning to the sort of form that took him into the first team.

The fact that Unsworth now takes part in first training one day a week (Interview last week reported in the Echo) means that he is now one of Ancelotti's coaching team and the relationship is two-way, Ancelotti gives advice and some instruction to Unsworth and Unsworth gives Ancelotti insider info on his young charges. Having some of them training with the first team is a good practice. I noted too that Simms was playing up-front alongside Richarlison in the game created for Gomes. As I stated on another thread, Ancelotti has a lot of Liedholm's man-management skills.

Derek Wadeson
27 Posted 18/02/2020 at 20:00:17
So, according to some, Unsworth is holding players back for his own needs.

I'll remember this the next time the first team is announced at our next home match. I won't need to bother cheering Holgate, Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies as Unsworth is holding them back for the Under-23s.

Remember the final home game of Moyes's last season when Unsworth was in charge and he and Joe Royle blooded several youngsters that day?

Short memories on how good a person and coach Daviod Unsworth has been during his latest spell at Everton.

Rob Dolby
28 Posted 18/02/2020 at 20:27:32
Baines is out of contract in the summer. Ancelotti probably wants to see if the young lad can step up as Digne's deputy. Otherwise we will need to buy someone.
Carl Manning
29 Posted 18/02/2020 at 20:29:34
Per, Joey Barton has said Connolly was struggling at right-back until he moved to a back three when Gibson arrived and moved him central; it has definitely improved him! So I would say you are right.

Barton cannot speak highly enough of Gibson. He raves about him. Plus Gibson is playing under the pressure of having to win games for promotion!

One thing I think we can all guarantee is that Barton will not have any shrinking violets in his team and Lewis will definitely at some point see some fireworks in the dressing room! For me a great chance for him to learn.

After having a few defenders we all comment on needing to be a bit nastier and clever in their fouling, I think going to Fleetwood under a master of the dark arts will bring Gibson on hugely!

Phillip Warrington
30 Posted 18/02/2020 at 20:40:55
I really hope he takes a good look at Baningime, he is a world-class player – just needing a manager to show a bit of faith in him. After all, the couple of games he played, he wasn't the worst player on the pitch. I could see him and Gomes forming one hell of a partnership in the middle of the park.
Phill Thompson
31 Posted 18/02/2020 at 21:40:47
Aidan #26, it was Moise Kean not Ellis Simms playing 9 alongside Richarlison in the Gomes game. Simms was involved in the training but, in the short clips I saw, he never got on the pitch in the game.
Martin Mason
32 Posted 18/02/2020 at 21:54:19
Not sure what Carlo can do to make me even more happy that we have him as manager. He inherited a poisoned chalice with, for me, a weak squad, a pile of square pegs for round holes and a heap of dead wood and he is working with these limited resources like a true professional.

Duncan Ferguson's spell in charge and the transition also needs to be mentioned. I am absolutely positive about the way we are moving and, while there are bound to be bad patches and the dead wood has to be shifted on, it is looking very good.

Tom Bowers
33 Posted 18/02/2020 at 22:06:22
Not sure we can really take anything from an assessment by Joey Barton who has a history of idiotic actions and is still doing them.

However, I am sure that the Everton staff are fully appraising themselves of the youngsters including those out on loan and hopefully the progress will benefit the first team down the line.

Jay Wood

34 Posted 18/02/2020 at 22:11:58
I haven't bothered with any of the Champions League games this season, so Borussia Dortmund v PSG is the first full game I've watched.

I primarily did so to see how our ex-seek-and-destroy missile, Gana Gueye, played and I was curious to see the phenomena that is Erling Haaland as, again, I haven't seen him live.

What a BEAST of a player Haaland is. Quick. Strong. Mobile. Alert. Good team player. Great technique, movement and awareness. Always looking to make forward runs. Unless there is a serious relapse or some dreadful injury, he looks destined to join the greats on tonight's showing.

Poacher's goal from some pinball in the PSG defence for his first. An absolute stonking strike for his second. One touch to open his body up facing goal, thumping strike from outside the area which literally lifted the net off the ground.

As for Gana, I don't know if tonight is typical of his performances for PSG since joining them, as I don't watch them, but he was much more static than when he played for Everton. Interesting, because some claimed during his time with us that he was ill-disciplined and never held his position.

Well, tonight, you could have almost thrown a blanket over his default position on the pitch. It was receive and give all night long for Gana, suggesting he was playing to orders at Everton with his more roaming role.

But Haaland? What a star!

Carl Manning
35 Posted 18/02/2020 at 22:25:43
Jay, I don't know if you agree or not but, in that role, he doesn't look half the player. It is, like you say, as if he's on a tight leash. Silva I think knew he was our best and most aggressive presser when we lost the ball and let him go get it.

I guess PSG have a lot more of the ball than we do so it might not be that's he's needed the same way. Why buy him and reign him in?

Jay Wood

36 Posted 18/02/2020 at 22:40:34
In one way, I agree with you, Carl. But then, the difference in the quality of the players Gana now plays with at PSG compared to Everton determines a different playing style.

I personally never bought the line that he was as poor a passer of the ball as some claimed during his time at Everton, but there can be no denying PSG has better technical players and better passers than Gana that they want to get on the ball more.

His job now isn't so much to be a dynamic tackling machine all over the park, but more a fixed point for players to play out of defence to as a means to quickly move the ball upfield.

I liked his all-action game with Everton more than the way he is being asked to play now.

But tonight, my eyes lit up with my first real look at Haaland. What an absolute diamond of a player.

Carl Manning
37 Posted 18/02/2020 at 23:04:22
It's hard to imagine Alf inge Haaland has those genes in him! Hahahahaha!
Jerome Shields
38 Posted 18/02/2020 at 23:33:33
Danny #19,

I totally agree with you in regard to developing youth for the first-team squad. But this has not been happening at the Academy. Hopefully Ancelotti will be able to change things. Others were not able to.

I would be a liar if I said I liked the statement: 'David Unsworth saw this as yet more attrition of his playing resources for the Under-23s'.

David Ellis
39 Posted 19/02/2020 at 05:04:00
Jerome #38,

I would be a liar if I said I liked the statement: 'David Unsworth saw this as yet more attrition of his playing resources for the Under-23s'
But it is an attrition of resources for the U23s. It's a fact. So surely no problem with Unsworth stating this.

He's not saying he should have kept them for his squad. In fact, he thinks the opposite as he goes on to say: "We adjusted, but it's great that they're getting the exposure at first-team level, it's what it's all about."

There's no problem here.

Darren Hind
40 Posted 19/02/2020 at 05:29:55
Kevin Prytherch @8

Thank you for putting up what Unsworth actually said: "... but it's great that they are getting exposure at first team level. It's what it's all about."

Rhino is as big an Evertonian as anyone who posts on here, or who goes to every game. That people still question his desire to do anything that isn't for the good of the club defies belief.

Bobby Mallon
41 Posted 19/02/2020 at 07:17:35
Isn't this just a case of Micheal Kenrick filling space and there really isn't a story here. Gomes needed playing time so Carlo took some players from his Under-23s.
Michael Kenrick
42 Posted 19/02/2020 at 08:06:46

I think it depends on how you read the article, the purpose of which was to highlight Ancelotti's interest in Jarrad Branthwaite and other U23 players.

Given the other recent bombshell story about Man City's European ban, the obvious connection I did not state in the story, but which was picked up by a few posters in the comments above, is the possible need for self-imposed restrictions on expensive player acquisitions, which have proved in the last few years to be less than stellar, and which may force the club to look even harder at their U23 talent moving forward. So both important current themes to my mind.

Regarding Unsworth, I think I prefer David Ellis's characterization at #39 which nails it. Whenever we talk about him, though, I'm still curious about the rumours some repeat that he is leaving at the end of the season. Maybe there's another story there? Or maybe it would just be "filling space"?

Derek Thomas
43 Posted 19/02/2020 at 08:14:23
Unsworth is 2nd in the pecking order, but has no hesitation in pinching players from the 3rd in the pecking order team below him. That's the way it goes when you have a tier of teams.

And has kept to the party line about it being all about getting players into the first team... which it is. But having been there, it does your head in.

Tony Hill
44 Posted 19/02/2020 at 08:48:54
For what it's worth, I have heard from a good senior source close to the playing side of things that Ancelotti is very popular within the club because he takes responsibility as manager and creates a healthy morale based on trust. That is true at all levels, apparently, so would include Unsworth.

it was not true, I gather, with other recent managers.

Ajay Gopal
45 Posted 19/02/2020 at 08:49:35
I would assume that there are others in the U23 who are ahead in the queue of Branthwaite and the other kid, Kyle John, who played in the practice match. I think Gibson would be an obvious step up to the first team next season and help save the club save money on buying a new CB. Similarly, Ellis Simms, Beni Baningime, Adeniran, Gordon are all players who have been mooted for the 1st team, so again, I think the club will save a wad on new players purchase.

Just speculating, but my guess for the club management's first team squad building strategy for next season would be:

Tie down Richarlison, DCL and Holgate to better, long term contracts
Try and sell Schneiderlin, Tosun, Siggy, Iwobi, Walcott (not all, but maybe 2-3 in that list) to help fund the purchase of 1 central midfielder and 1 right sided mid-fielder.
Move on most of the loanees: Bolasie, Besic, Sandro, Pennington, Connolly, Garbutt, Dowell, Broadhead, (I hope some of their contracts will anyway wind down in the summer, saving us the trouble)
Bring in a few select loanees - I can presently think of Gibson and Jonjoe Kenny and maybe, Lossl ? and integrate them into the 1st team squad
Most likely, Baines' contract will not be renewed. Most definitely, Niasse and Martina as well. Perhaps, Stekelenburg as well.
Not sure about what Ancellotti thinks of Sidibe
Move a few select U23s to the 1st team: Simms, Beni, Virginia ?
And, of course, move a whole bunch of promising U-23s to the loan system - I can think of Feeney, maybe Gordon, and a few others.

Next season, Everton's squad could look something like:

GK: Pickford, Lossl, Virginia
CB: Mina, Holgate, Keane, Gibson
RB: Coleman, Kenny
LB: Digne, ?? (Delph/Coleman can fill in if necessary)
CM: Schneiderlin (or Siggy), Gomes, Delph, Davies, Beni, 'NewOne1'
Wide Midfield: Bernard, Walcott (or Iwobi), 'NewOne2'
Forwards: Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Kean, Simms

Will this squad be enough to challenge for a Top 4? Perhaps not, but maybe for a Top 6 finish, as well as compete in the Europe League (which is a distinct possibility, at the moment).

All my speculation, of course.

Tony Abrahams
46 Posted 19/02/2020 at 08:56:11
I've heard many people say that Marcel Brands, is the main man at Everton, but I think that's changed with the appointment of Carlo Ancelloti, now being our manager.

This can only be a good thing, because I'm sure the main point of recruitment will now change, and Brands can get on with his main job, of restructuring the whole club, especially the academy, something which David Unsworth is already ahead of.

We are, and we should continue, to shout Carlo Ancelloti from the roof-tops, because he's a legend in the game, and should be made to feel loved, because we want him to give this same love back to Everton, and hopefully take us back to a place we seem to have long forgotten about, but a place where we need to belong!!

Dave Abrahams
47 Posted 19/02/2020 at 09:02:07
I think it is good that Ancelotti is taking a big interest in Everton's young players, at the moment there are three or four young players with the potential to become regulars in the first team, but there isn't one of them that would make you say they couldn't be left out of the first team squad. When I saw Saka, of Arsenal, on Sunday, I saw a player screaming to be picked, exceptional talent, when Everton get a young player like that we will all know about him, a player with natural ability just longing to show it.
Ray Roche
48 Posted 19/02/2020 at 09:11:39
Ajay, didn't Unsworth come out and say that Simms is nowhere near ready for the first team the other week?
Carl Manning
49 Posted 19/02/2020 at 10:03:53
I'll put it out there. Schneiderlin will not move on in the summer. I'm convinced Carlo can see he can get a tune out of him. The early signs are that he is slowly recovering some solid form.

I would have thought the youngsters,esp the defenders are being looked at because we have sent so many in loan in Jan. One may be needed in an emergency.

After another couple of weeks of rest and training, will be interesting to see the midfield patterns of players against arsenal. I expect another big step forward.

Dennis Stevens
50 Posted 19/02/2020 at 10:42:18
Ancelotti seems to be the antithesis of the sturm und drang style of mismanagement we've suffered over the last few years. I'd like to think the Board have learnt a few lessons that they'll apply when we next need to recruit, which will not be for many a year, hopefully!
Steve Ferns
51 Posted 19/02/2020 at 10:50:42
Dunno why people seem to be insinuating that Silva is responsible for the youth not copying the first team. If only Everton had a Director of Football and a Director of Coaching whose job it would be ensure that the Youth sides copied the first team.

As for when things went wrong, the blame should be attributed to Ronald Koeman. Martinez had them close together and wanted the U23s to feel they were close to the first team in more ways than one. Koeman built a fence and moved the U23s away from the first team. It was he who didn't want to know.

Allardyce wasn't there long enough to change anything. Should Silva have changed it? No; he was only head coach and this is the remit of Brands. I'm glad Ancelotti is doing more and hopefully he can revolutionise Finch Farm and utilise our world-class facilities and make us behave like the big club we want to be.

Drew O'Neall
52 Posted 19/02/2020 at 10:51:41
Big deal!

Manager wants to look at all his players shock.

Ajay Gopal
53 Posted 19/02/2020 at 11:22:49
Ray (48), this is from the Official Site, Unsworth's comments after the last-minute winner against Derby County a couple of days ago:

"I thought Ellis was absolutely terrific.

“Take the goal out of it – he'll get all the acclaim for that – what he's done tonight was what we've been trying to work on all season with him. His hold-up play was excellent, as was his linking with the midfield and defending for the team.

“His touch to spin in behind for the goal and his finish was top class. He was a handful.

“He hasn't half come on this season. We all know he can finish but you need to have all the other attributes to be a Premier League striker and he's certainly going in the right direction.”

Jay Wood

54 Posted 19/02/2020 at 11:27:03
Or... another way you can look at it, Steve, is that Ancelotti is the stronger, bigger personality (and charmer) than Silva and that the football side at the club is now being run primarily in the manager's image, rather than being allocated to a lieutenant like Brands (whose role still remains important).
Steve Ferns
55 Posted 19/02/2020 at 11:30:57
Ajay, Ellis Simms has been superb this season. At the start of the season, his first at this level, he was out of his depth. At 18, he was simply too big and too fast for the U18s. At U23 level, he had to learn how to do something other than just race onto a ball over the top or use his strength to create space to shoot. He had to adapt... and he has.

Unsworth said the right thing about him, that he needs to (and did) improve his link-up play, his approach play, and he needs to be able to do something other than score goals. Because, unless Ellis scored goals, you didn't see him. He didn't get involved. He had a lot of deficiencies to his game. Unsworth says he is a work in progress, and I would agree. This means he is getting better but he has a long way to go.

If he stepped up to the first team now, the worry is you'd see a little boy lost. He'd certainly not have the pace or power to run away from defences, so what else has he got? Not enough, right now, for the first team. I'm sure this is not lost on Carlo Ancelotti. In the summer, Ellis will be roughly the same age Moise Kean was when we signed him. He has a long way to go to be as good as Moise was back then.

There's a lot to like about the kid, but he has a lot of work to do, and he's probably not ready for a loan just yet, because he has so much work to do.

Jerome Shields
56 Posted 19/02/2020 at 12:09:33
David #19,

Thank you for explaining the context, which seems reasonable enough. But I have always felt there was a lag in bridging the gap between the U23s and the first team.

Phill Thompson
57 Posted 19/02/2020 at 16:18:12
Steve #55, spot on with those comments.

The only thing I'd add is that it will be difficult to compare Ellis Simms with any other player in terms of age and development. He's on his own (upward) curve, maybe a year behind Gordon who's a similar age, maybe 2 or 3 behind Kean, maybe he'll never catch up as those two were blessed with natural talent and skill at an early age.

Simms has had to work hard to keep learning and improving in the 2½ years he's been with us. You could see in the two recently streamed games how he's improved his hold-up play, laying the ball off, turning with the ball etc. But of course this is only U23s level he's still a huge amount to improve on.

Training with the first team will help, Big Dunc can teach him how to bully centre-halves, and playing against two Premier League centre-backs in training, it will be hard for him to find space and a good learning experience.

Steve Ferns
58 Posted 19/02/2020 at 17:49:34
You're spot on too, Phill. We also need to remember that Simms was RELEASED by Man City as they did not think he was good enough at the age of 15/16.

Imagine him in a Guardiola side. He wouldn't look very good. He's not a technically gifted player. His raw speed and power would count for little for them.

Fortunately we saw it. We harnessed it and played to his strengths. There's something to be said for not playing like the first team, perhaps?

Danny O'Neill
59 Posted 19/02/2020 at 18:57:19
Good call out Steve. But arguably, that could lead to developing individuals rather than a team & culture. Individuals that, because we don't achieve success as a club / team, move on.

Short term gain versus longer term success?

Hey, I appreciate most clubs operate under the model of hope and see if someone comes good, so that's not a criticism of that system.

I'm just (sadly) quite impressed with what Klopp has implemented throughout Liverpool. It didn't happen overnight, but it is now clearly paying dividends and looks like it will do so for a generation.

I'll be honest, I'm influenced through life experience. I spent some of my childhood in Germany as my father was in the Army. I then served in Germany in the Army myself. I consider myself fortunate to have played in their football system as a kid and adult; that's how they do things. The clubs (from village through to Bundesliga) apply the same system throughout; youth to first team.

I know our focus is Everton & club, but I just think you have to look at the sustained & long term success of their national team to see how they have it more right than us. Our national team has relied on one-off / once in a generation players or collection of, to deliver a now 50+ year success we still talk about & has resorted to considering a semi final or better than expected tournament performance as success. There is no long term vision as we rely on the odd individual(s) coming along periodically to carry the dead wood.

Tony Hill
60 Posted 20/02/2020 at 12:22:57
Excellent comments from Ancelotti and Brands being reported about how they work together and about the longer term strategy, very much including a youth pathway to the first team.

We are reminded by Brands of the need for patience in order to build lasting success. These two men hold our future in their hands.

Colin Malone
61 Posted 22/02/2020 at 16:10:15
Who let Joe Williams leave? Wigan's best player. Still young, still learning.
Tony Hill
62 Posted 22/02/2020 at 17:17:20
Another clean sheet for Lewis Gibson at Fleetwood. I think this chap and Feeney (let's hope he recovers asap) are serious prospects.
Terry White
63 Posted 22/02/2020 at 17:28:16
And Calum Connelly scored the only goal of the game.
Dave Abrahams
64 Posted 22/02/2020 at 17:34:17
Terry 62), ah hey Terry, don't you ever sleep over there in America, I was just going to post that!!!
Carl Manning
65 Posted 22/02/2020 at 17:41:59
When Gibson is back from the loan, he will go straight into the first team squad! He looks some prospect! You can see in the games he is a class above. I honestly don't think he needs another loan after this. He will he ready.
Don Alexander
66 Posted 22/02/2020 at 18:34:47
A couple of seasons ago, Unsy was praising Kenwright for his daily phone calls (plural) to see how things were going at Finch Farm and give advice. It now seems to have gone all quiet on that front and, at last, a professional approach seems to be taking shape. Shame it took so long.
Tony Abrahams
67 Posted 22/02/2020 at 19:32:35
Nothing to be said for not playing like the first team, Steve, nothing positive anyway, imo, mate.
Alan J Thompson
68 Posted 23/02/2020 at 10:18:29
With something like 7 or 8 Managers, full or part time, in a similar number of years, you have to wonder just how confused some of these youngsters might have been, and that doesn't include those tutored at other clubs before Everton. Let's hope Mr Ancellotti is here for the long haul.

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