Everton’s youngsters are preparing for another grueling campaign, and with the departure of David Unsworth as the head of the Academy, it’s a time for change in the youth structure. You get the impression that the very personable new Everton Under 21s coach Paul Tait has already got his feet under the table, having been the Under-18s coach for some time now. You also get the impression he won’t be sitting at that table tucked away in Finch Farm too often as he expressed his philosophy with young players that has seen many of his players reach the edge of the first team.
In the first part of a wide-ranging interview with evertontv, he outlined his aims for the team, conversations with first team manager Frank Lampard and gave us some insight into the vision of Director of Football Kevin Thelwell as well.
“In terms of the job, it’s important for us to treat every player individually and not just think of the team. Every player will have their own development plan and it is about where they are in their particular journey. You might have some 19-year-olds who are ready to go out on loan, while others might not be quite ready to make that step.
“We have to think of the pathway which is going to give us the best chance of players transitioning through to the First Team, as ultimately that’s what we want to do. And if boys don’t go all the way to our First Team, we want them to have a good career in the game.”
I thought it quite telling when Tait spoke of the Everton “identity”. This links to the first team’s methods of playing the game and the new boss clearly has a standing invite to observe the coaching at first team level. The ultimate aim and emphasis is to get players first-team ready rather than to win trophies at this level and his words might well have come from the mouth of Lampard.
“First of all, we have to show our Everton identity without the ball – to hunt in packs, press when we can, to be dynamic and physical. And, if we can’t press, we need to make sure we’re in a good solid shape.”
“With the ball, we want the boys to express themselves and show what they can bring to the table. We want to try to play through the thirds and to play attacking football.
“We don’t just want to have possession for the sake of it. We want to have the ball as much as possible, but it’s got to have an end product. It’s got to have a meaning.”
So, greater possession but not for the sake of statistics. That end product he refers to was a sticking point at all levels of the club last season from First Team all the way to Under 18s.
On his coaching and man-management style it is clear to see why almost all the Under 21 players name-checked Tait as a major influence in them choosing to re-sign with the Blues. There seems to be a greater sense of optimism and mood among that camp following the last season of David Unsworth’s tenure.
“You need to invest time and get to know each boy as an individual. That’s really important to me and to the other staff in the Academy. That’s the way forward, definitely, to have those relationships with the boys where they feel comfortable telling you what they think.”
“We don’t just want it to be one-way, where the coach is king. We need the players to feedback, and we need to know how they’re feeling. The only way you’re going to do that is with good communication.”
His description of Thelwell is also very telling -
“Very, very professional and someone who wants to get things done.”
It certainly appears that Tait, Lampard and Thelwell are very much heading in the same direction, ultimately it’s all about the senior side. Get some of these boys through the levels and our reliance on heavy spending in the transfer market may one day be history? Good luck Paul Tait, we have our fingers crossed for you!