Something that has been common place for the Everton first team but not the Under 21s has happened in the last few weeks. In three consecutive games now Paul Tait’s free-scoring young Blues have failed to find the back of the net and have lost their last three games as a result.
Although we remind ourselves that it’s not all about results, it’s about development, it still comes as something of a surprise. As well as development of course the U21 set up has recently become a vehicle to rehabilitate longer term injuries for the likes of Nathan Patterson and James Garner. Although the class of these two first-teamers is undoubted they will of course be raising their fitness levels and match preparation rather than being 100% ready. Formations in the side have swayed back and forth between 4-5-1 and 3-5-2 and current leading goalscorer Stan Mills has barely played due to ongoing first team training involvement, so lots of different reasons.
To put this current goalless run of games into context, the Blues had in their previous games scored a wonderful 70 goals in 33 competitive matches. That’s an average of over 2 goals per game and at times they have been hitting 5 goals, 6 goals (twice) and they even demolished Colchester scoring 7.
The last 3 games saw Everton lose 5-0 to Manchester City following a bit of a second half collapse, 3-0 in the Premeier League International Cup to an on-fire PSV Eindhoven side and most recently, on Sunday, a 1-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace.
Speaking to evertonfc.com after the Palace game, Under 21s manager Paul tait explained:
“We’re going to get a bit of time on the training pitch, which is a positive. We can do some analysis on the recent games.
“We’ve had three games in a week, and it’s been full on. It’s been difficult to get any feedback to the boys, but we’ll get some time now. We don’t play now until March 17th and so we’ll have plenty of time with the players.”
On the game itself, Tait was disappointed in the lack of chances created by Everton:
“It was a scrappy game, there wasn’t a great deal of quality. There were limited chances for both teams.
“We got punished for not defending a ball into the box and they scored a header. I think everyone thought it would’ve been a draw, but they got the late goal from their substitute.
“We weren’t able to create many clear chances and that was the disappointing thing.”
The Toffees’ next outing sees them make the trip down to London to play Chelsea on Friday 17th March and everyone will be hoping for a return to normal service against the team sitting 2nd in Premier League 2. Everton, despite the recent disappointments are 9th out of 14 clubs in the division. Good luck lads!