At the Everton Under-21 level a matter of four weeks ago Everton offered new terms to no less than nine existing professionals as well as two new first professional contracts to defenders Eli Campbell and Matthew Mallon.
In an impressive show of belief in their own potential but also, pointedly, the potential of the new coach (ex Under 18s boss Paul Tait) we have already now seen nine of those offers now accepted. At the time of writing, only Einar Iversen and Patrick Nash are yet to accept new professional terms.
Personally, I am delighted that Sean McAllister (main photo) signed a 12 month renewal contract on Friday 8th July. I have followed his progress since he arrived from Northern Irish outfit Dungannon Swifts as a youngster 3 years ago.
Capped at Northern Ireland youth level, McAllister has impressed when he has got into the Under 21 team during the last season. He is an energetic midfielder with an eye for goal too.
“Now I just want to kick on and improve all aspects of my game. I want to create more chances and develop my defensive play.”
“I am very excited to be working with Paul Tait again. When I heard the news that he was promoted to the Under-21s, I was over the moon. We have a very good relationship. He has helped me a lot on and off the field.”
It’s very interesting to hear what he said about his areas for improvement. If anything he has been perhaps too versatile for his own good in my opinion. His most natural position is probably right midfield (rather than being a winger) but I have also seen him play left midfield, centre midfield as well as attacking midfielder and even right back when coming on as a substitute. He’s definitely got real quality and under Tait’s tutelage hopefully he will settle into one role and excel.
Also, one of the latest to accept his offer was Joe Anderson, a centre back who has also played left back. Comfortable in either position in a back 4 as well as left side of a trio of centre backs this is good news for the club. There’s nothing flashy about Anderson, he has a good left foot but a little like new first team recruit James Tarkowski he sees himself as a defender first and foremost and is proud of it. Now 21, it will be interesting to see if a loan to a League 1 or 2 club will follow so that he can pit his skills in men’s football
“I’m really looking forward to working with Taity again. He has been brilliant with me – and I know the rest of the lads would say the same. There was a real buzz when we heard he was going up to be Under-21s Head Coach.
“I believe I’ve played my best football under him.”
It’s interesting to see how both (and other newly contracted young professionals) have referenced Paul Tait as an influence. Given that Anderson played 45 games under David Unsworth at Under 23 (now U21) level that is some statement? McAllister features less at 18 games under Unsworth but maybe now sees more of a future under someone who believes in him?
Right now, with this news and following the welcome report that some exciting young talents accepted scholarship terms this week, there is more of a good feeling around Finch Farm. There is a level of experience at U21 level that was simply not there last season following the exodus of several older professionals that had not made it to the first team.
I’m sure not all the nine players who have signed will be at Everton all next season as loans beckon but there is a more experienced look than there was just a month ago. That will surely help the U18 players who will undoubtedly be promoted to work under Tait once more at U21 level.
Hopefully we shall see the remaining offers accepted Einar Iversen, for example, until his cruel injury had looked a great box-to-box midfield prospect. Let’s get those last deals done?