Leeds United Under 23s had a major role to play on Friday evening when Everton visited the newly crowned champions of Premier League 2, Manchester City. Leeds’ failure to win their final game of the season at Arsenal (they drew 1-1) meant that they can no longer catch Everton and either they or Chelsea Under 23s will be relegated next season along with Derby County.
That result was just as well as John Ebbrell’s team were humiliated on Friday. The 7-0 reverse actually left Everton with the worst goal difference (a staggering -21) in the entire division.
Playing a 4-2-3-1 formation against City’s fluid 4-3-3 the Blues were simply outplayed and out-run. The scoreline could have been much worse, double figures would not have flattered the hosts as their superior pace, accuracy and the confidence which comes with winning games saw them annihilate the Toffees.
It’d be easy to think that the Everton keeper Harry Tyrer must have had a “stinker” of a game. In truth, he could maybe have done better than be beaten at his near post for City’s second but he was left brutally exposed for much of the game and some of the goals City scored were simply amazing.
Early signs were that Everton would make a battle of it as firstly Charlie Whitaker hit the crossbar and a Tom Cannon shot was scrambled away from the goal-line. Once the onslaught began though, City were relentless. Cole Palmer’s second of the evening, a left footed curling free kick from 25 yards out, was simply world class. He not only looks like Kevin de Bruyne, he plays like him! City ruthlessly exposed some poor defensive shapes by the Blues, targeting Everton’s left side of the defence. At first sight you may have criticised the entire team for failing to put in effective tackles but the truth of the matter was City were simply miles faster and better. They cut through at will.
So for Everton, the rebuild will begin. Already Kevin Thelwell, our Director of Football, has announced that two roles will be filled at youth level, namely a new head of the Academy and a new head coach for the Under 23s.
All the players involved for Everton on Friday will still be available next season and, for many, they may be better for the experience of having their first season at this level but the shake up of the club at this level appears long overdue on the evidence of this game!