Watford Academy/U23

Discussion in 'The Team Bus' started by wfc78, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. wfc4ever

    wfc4ever First Team Captain

    Another 1_1 draw today for the Under 18s against Sheffield Wednesday .

    Wasn't a great game - high number of foul throws summed it up !
    oxhey67 likes this.
  2. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    Did you go wfc4ever?
    If so, did the WFC forwards close down the opposition keeper very quickly for the majority of the time? It's something I noticed happened yesterday but forgot to write up. I was wondering if it's a tactical thing being used throughout the sides.
  3. wfc4ever

    wfc4ever First Team Captain

    Cannot say they did really but then SW had more of the ball.

    Passing was sloppy and led to their equaliser - our goal was a good cross and close range header but generally a lot of attacking moves broke down .

    Our goalie was very keen to come out and dominate .
  4. PhilippineOrn

    PhilippineOrn First Team

    Interesting reading the first few pages of this thread again.
    UEA_Hornet likes this.
  5. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    In post #1253 I alluded to the way the academy/under-23s was going to be restructured in terms of moving players up into higher age levels. Here, once again, is the article setting out the current academy vision under Andy Scott, first published on the official site in January 2018.

  6. WatfordTalk

    WatfordTalk Squad Player

    Plenty of wet panties, the watford way
  7. luke_golden

    luke_golden Space Cadet

    Thanks for the updates Oxhey. Interesting reading.
  8. UEA_Hornet

    UEA_Hornet First Team Captain

    This guy clearly knew his stuff:

  9. Tommy Tommy Smith

    Tommy Tommy Smith Academy Graduate

    Definitely some amazing quotes on the first few pages.
  10. lowerrous

    lowerrous Squad Player

    I just realised that Lewis Gordon didn't appear to feature, any idea why? He's the other one along with Cassidy who was recently given a fairly early pro deal and there's also been a decent amount of talk about.
  11. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    There were half a dozen or so academy players watching near to me with one in a lower leg brace and one in a foot cast/brace thing. Movement wasn't overly prohibited so more cautionary devices rather than long-term casts as neither player had crutches to aid support. All of them were called upon to be ball retrievers after a while as a fair few disappeared over the low walls and the two wearing these casts were able enough to the job.

    I can't remember which but I'm fairly sure Lewis Gordon was one of the two wearing a brace/cast.
  12. lowerrous

    lowerrous Squad Player

    Signing a professional contract with Watford is a death sentence.
  13. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    More evidence on the official site of youth player development over league tables.

    I'm genuinely excited by what is happening beyond the first team squad since Andy Scott came in. He's put together a team of coaches well respected at youth level as well as keeping Hayden Mullins, who previously worked under/alongside Harry Kewell. I've no doubt Mullins is a good coach and communicator but that little bit of continuity was needed with the influx of staff before the season started.

    Schoolboy Error likes this.
  14. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    It's never nice reading about a Watford defeat even if the aim over the season is to aid player development.

    So here are the nuts & bolts from tonights 1-2 reverse against Nottingham Forest for the under-23 side.

    Forest scored on 15 minutes through Virgil Gomis.
    Michael Folivi equalised in the 22nd minute with his third in three games. Dion Pereira claimed the assist.
    Yassine En-Neyah scored what turned out to be the winner after approximately 60 minutes.
    Watford sub Tom Leighton was sent off late in the game.

    Watford have tonight sent their best wishes & a speedy recovery to goalscorer Yassine En-Neyah who suffered a bad injury in this evenings game.
    There isn't an official report up yet so I've no idea if the sending off is connected to the injury.

    The line-up? It was this (with age in brackets).
    keeper; Howes (20)
    defenders; Baxter (?), Mukena (19), Hudson (17), Eleftheriou (c) (20)
    midfielders; MacLean (16), Forster (18), Pereira (19)
    forwards; Cassidy (17), Folivi (20), Holsgrove (?)

    subs; Hoskins (gk) (17), Leighton (18), Sesay (17), Everton (?)
  15. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    This may be complete rubbish but a little digging on a couple of new names in the under-23s has come up with the following.

    Firstly, I'm presuming the first two players I'm commenting on have signed a contract of sorts otherwise I'm sure they'd be listed as 'Trialist' on any team sheet.

    Retrospectively, I found a live twitter commentary of tonights under-23 game from the Nottingham Post (https://www.nottinghampost.com/sport/football/nottingham-forest-live-reds-under-1929477) which included a photo of the team sheet. This allowed me to find the first names of messers Baxter, Holsgrove and Everton. Very handy!

    Nathan Baxter was named in defence. I've not seen this name before tonight and a quick search (I say quick!) brought up a Nathan Baxter (18) previously of Everton. Manchester born, he spent at least 2 years at Vitesse Arnhem's academy before switching to Goodison Park. He was released at the end of last season.

    Another picture from the twitter commentary shows a Watford player who looks a little like a Nathan Baxter in Everton garb from several years ago.


    The second person I'd not heard of before in connection with WFC was Holsgrove. The team sheet told me his first name is Keiran which led me to finding an ex-West Bromwich midfielder/forward of that name. Welshman Holsgrove was at Liverpool between the ages of 6 to 16 before being released in January 2016 when he was picked up by the Baggies (ouch!) He was subsequently released in July of this year and became a free agent.

    The third player I hadn't heard of was one of the substitutes with the surname Everton. It turns out he's part of the WFC academy but isn't listed in any official capacity. I found him on a youth football site where he represented WFC under-18s. His complete name is the wonderfully exuberant moniker Sonny Blu Lo Everton.
  16. RookeryDad

    RookeryDad Squad Player

    Sounds like he must ToffeeBlue’s nephew or some such.
  17. lowerrous

    lowerrous Squad Player

    It turns out that while Baxter is from Everton, "Everton" is a Chelsea fan (though no idea if he was ever in Chelsea's academy). He is also either 14 or 15, so playing well above his age group.

    Looking at the match report, Tom Leighton was sent off for a "horrible challenge" on En-Neyah which led to his injury.

    Also, quite remarkable if true, but supposedly the match attendance was: "144 here tonight with 97 scouts from various clubs" - that's a lot of scouts! I wonder who they had their eyes on.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
    oxhey67 likes this.
  18. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    That twitter commentary is pretty good isn't it! I only found it after I put the game details up (post #1274) but reading through had me entertained in the small hours of last night & this morning. Although it doesn't sound like anyone was laughing about the red card incident. A broken leg apparently.

    I think you're correct about SBL.Everton being 14 or 15 years old, maybe 16 even. I found two mentions of him on-line in connection with Chelsea Academy school. One dated 2015 where he's in a Year 7 group and also the results of the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships(!) from 2016 where he's listed as Year 8. If he was in Year 8 two years ago would he have just completed Year 10? That would make him 15, probably 16, and it a bit more feasible to be in the under-18s & under-23s now.

    Just to add a little colour to the Baxter and Holsgrove names. I searched through social media sites for both earlier and two things I found on instagram.
    1. Nathan Baxter is now followed by WFC's Ashley Charles, increasing the plausibility it's the ex-Everton player.
    2. Holsgrove wasn't a completely new name to me it turns out, he came on as sub in the recent under-23 game versus Sheffield United I went to! On instagram he's pictured with his girlfriend who I recognised from walking past me a couple of times during that game so I'm 99.99% sure he's the ex-WBA player.

    I'm also aware my internet history now looks like I'm stalking teenage boys (& girls from where I tried to find who's connected to the Ladies squad before the official site put up profiles last Thursday!) so maybe I should take a step back for a while!!
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
    The Voice of Reason likes this.
  19. lowerrous

    lowerrous Squad Player

    He completed Year 7 in May 2015, making him 12 at most 3 years ago, so 15 at most now (Year 7 = 11/12, 8 = 12/13, 9 = 13/14, 10 = 14/15). Considering the cut-offs for new school years is typically the start of September then he could feasibly still be 14 if he'd just finished year 10.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
  20. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    I must admit, I don't have kids so have never really understood the whole Year X thing and am too lazy (and fick) to work it out! Thanks for clearing that up.

    He must be a decent player to be mixing it with the 18, 19 & 20 year olds we have in the under-23s. Sounds promising! Cheers lowerrous.
  21. It strikes me that our u23 squad seem to be mostly very young and should possibly be playing their football in a younger age group. Is it because they are very good players who are advanced for their age or could it be that most of our older U23 players are either involved with the 1st team squad or out on loan with other teams, hence we have to use our younger players to make up the numbers?

    Does anyone know if this is common place at most clubs or is it just us?
    Bwood_Horn likes this.
  22. wfc4ever

    wfc4ever First Team Captain

    Most of the Under 23s go out on loan I think...
  23. lowerrous

    lowerrous Squad Player

    Read the article in the link oxhey posted just a few above yours... :rolleyes:

    The club clearly don't think many should be playing their football in a younger age group.

    From what I gather this is becoming increasingly common at clubs, it's not just us. We are experimenting with pushing this a bit more aggressively than we did before, but it's hard to say if we are now doing it more aggressively than most. For one thing, I do know that most of Man Utd's under-23s are also 17 and 18 with a few a bit above or below.

    However, your thinking in the second sentence is along the right lines, in that one of, if not the main reason behind this trend is the feeling amongst top clubs that the standard of football at under-23 level isn't great, because typically the best youngsters (and any players over 20) will already be playing with the first team or being sent on loan to play competitive football. Subsequently, a lack of quality and competitiveness at under-23 level means it's not such a big deal to play the best 16/17/18 year-olds there, with the knock-on effect being that if the best 16/17/18 year-olds are playing for the under-23s then there's already opportunities to test the best 14 and 15 year-olds with the under-18s.
    Jossy and oxhey67 like this.
  24. Thank you for pointing out the link that I did not spot in #1273 lowerrouse, I was reacting to the team ages Oxhey had posted in #1274 and had not read #1273, how remiss of me :rolleyes:
  25. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    Just to add to the excellent explanation from lowerrous, Andy Scott (technical director and part of the recruitment team) mentioned some time back about the age groups moving up with the then plan of having specially arranged friendlies for players in-between the under-23s and the first team squad.

    Here's an interview from January outlining the then plans. They'll be modified as time goes but I think it adds to what lowerrous has already spoken of.

    (It's the Hertfordshire Mercury and is a messy page full of crap so I'll cut + paste for all to read.)

    Watford overhaul academy structure to create B team following in the steps of Glasgow Rangers
    The set up will hopefully bridge the gap between the first team and U23s more effectively

    Watford have made a restructure of how they are to run their academy and have added a B team to try and bridge the gap between the U23s and first team.
    The Hornets are keeping their category two academy, which differs from Huddersfield who downgraded to a category four and Brentford who scrapped it altogether, but are adding a B team to help try and bring young players through. The Hertfordshire club will also be investing in scouting in the Watford area in order to ensure that they don't miss out on potential talent right on their doorstep.

    Watford's UK Football Recruitment Director Andy Scott explained: “We’re staying as a category two Academy so we’ll still have the same games programme, but we’ll also be introducing a new B team in-between the Under-23s and the first-team that will play friendlies against category one clubs and that type of opposition, starting from next pre-season.
    “Effectively, there will be two training groups next season – the Under-18s and the B team – but we will have three teams and three lots of fixtures.
    “The Under-18 team will be comprised of mainly Under-16s and some Under-18s who need the fixtures, and the Under-23 fixtures will be played by the Under-18s in the majority so that they’re playing up a whole category up and testing themselves.
    “The B team games will be played by first-team squad members and Under-18 or professional players worthy or capable of competing at that level.”

    In Scotland, Glasgow Rangers gained permission to move their development squad away from the U23 league and play fixtures against other clubs to broaden their experiences and that is something Scott wants to see happen. He added: “If you’re playing against the likes of Man City, Bayern Munich or Ajax – as we did recently – it’s going to give a better standard of opposition and allow us to develop those players early enough to enable them to play first-team football further down the line.”
    There is a belief that the club's DNA has to be present in developing young players and that is something Scott wants to establish as well as a pathway.

    He said: “Nine of our 18 Under-23 players are now out on loan, which means there is space for Under-18 players to move up.
    “That way we can find out between now and the end of the season whether they’re capable of playing at that level.
    “At the same time, we’re going to see whether those players out on loan can hack it with first-team football and how they respond.
    “With the younger players moving up, we don’t want to overdo their physical output so we’ll make sure they’re looked after properly.
    “We're trying to push the players up already. On Saturday we had several Under-15s playing for the Under-16s and they beat Coventry with a really good performance.
    “It wasn’t just the fact they won, but even more impressive was the style and quality of their play.”

    All football fans love to see a 'local boy done good' tale and Watford will be scouring the surrounding areas to try and find the best talent. Scott said: “It may be an idealistic way of looking at it, but you always want to see players from the local area playing for the club.
    “That’s why you always hear fans singing about players who are ‘one of their own’, and we need to start moving in that direction.
    “We were previously looking at recruiting players into the Academy from a wider area but we’ve changed our recruitment policy so that we’ve got scouts in and around the Watford area. We’re trying to look for local talent in the local area as well as improving our relationships with the Watford FC Community Sports & Education Trust and local schools and clubs. By doing so we’re simply focusing our attention on the areas we feel would benefit us and the club better.”

    Scott will have excellent knowledge of how a B team system will work having been at Brentford until the end of last year. The Bees decided to move away from the academy setup for financial reasons and the structure has helped the development of some players. Brentford's B team have had a significantly improved fixture list in the past two seasons and they beat Italian giants AC Milan and Inter Milan earlier this season. Chris Mepham, originally signed in the academy days, starred for the B team last term and is now a mainstay of the Brentford defence in recent weeks. And one aspect of the club's setup that has helped bridge the gap between the first team and B team is the fact that Dean Smith normally has two players training with his squad in every session.

    Brentford B team boss Kevin O'Connor told sister site GetWestLondon in September: “The manager has two players, virtually every session, involved with the first team.
    “It’s an unwritten rule. I think that’s amazing. It gives the players that exposure and the opportunities to impress him.
    “I can’t see it being clear as that. The players that have had the opportunities; the first team players are talking about them. I think the setup is working for us.”

    Scott, though, will obviously know that there is no substitute for men's football and some of the stars of the B team have gone out on loan moves to gain experience at a senior level, where a win bonus helps ease the mortgage pressure of a team-mate. O'Connor added: “There will come a time where B team games won’t test them to the level we need there for men’s football, especially league football.
    “I agree with what Dean is saying (about Reece Cole outgrowing the B team). A loan is natural progression.
    “It’s playing with men who need the win to help pay their mortgage. It’s not just a friendly game or an U23s game where there is nothing at stake.
    “It’s whether they can deal with that pressure and a 28 year old screaming at them. It’s real life and it’s real football. Hopefully they come back to us and kick on again.”
    The Voice of Reason likes this.
  26. wingco

    wingco First Year Pro

    We have a player in the academy called Sonny Blu Lo Everton. Finally a suitable heir to Jazzi Barnum-Bobb
    oxhey67 and Happy bunny like this.
  27. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    A match report from last nights 1-2 loss to Nottm Forest is underneath the views from Head of Academy Darren Sarll.


    Interestingly, Sarll has answered my query regarding Sonny Blu Lo Everton's age. Myself and lowerrous had worked out he must've been 14 or 15, turns out he's 16. Some good words about the young winger though and, generally, more emphasis on playing players above their age group.

    The under-18s played away at Sheffield United earlier today and unconfirmed reports suggest a 1-0 win for the Hornets.
    wfc4ever likes this.
  28. I Blame Bassett

    I Blame Bassett Squad Player

    I wish I was named Sonny Blu Lo,but not Everton.
    oxhey67 likes this.
  29. Happy bunny

    Happy bunny Cheered up a bit

    I wonder if Nathan Baxter is related to Jose Baxter, who also started at Everton but slipped down the leagues to (I think) Oldham
  30. I Blame Bassett

    I Blame Bassett Squad Player

    My late friend Roly used to drum for Reflex and they had a member called Jose Baxter I think?
  31. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    I'm going to say they're not related. It's something about the eyes I think.

    2e15fc690b824b3e997d13e88ab84425.jpg C3IdCRoXAAYHQDi.jpg
  32. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    The under-23s played Crewe today (Friday, August 31st) in a game which ended 2-2.

    Andy Scott was in attendance and looked good in his suit & glasses. Good but not good enough to make me turn. Must try harder Andy.
    David Pleat was there taking notes as were a number of scouts. I new they were because upon trying to attain one of the printed team sheets I was told they were for scouts only! I hand copied the teams and took my seat nearby to paper wielding oddballs masquerading as football talent overlords when, five minutes before kick-off, a Wingate & Finchley official came round handing out printed team sheets. Organisation was not high up on the agenda today.

    Official match report: https://www.watfordfc.com/teams/under-23s/u23-report-watford-2-2-crewe-alexandra

    My observations;

    WFC played in a diamond formation with the full-backs (Eleftheriou & Holsgrove) pushing on at every opportunity. The wide midfielders (Pereira & Maclean) were happy to drop into the space left by the full-backs to collect the ball when the team were in possession but quite often the space beside both centre-backs (Hudson & Tricker) was left vacant when the ball was lost meaning Crewe were able to play the ball into the space and cause problems. The keeper (Howe) was very vocal as were the two centre-backs. However, just like the game against Sheffield United recently, the on pitch bellowing faded the longer the game went on. Joy Mukena played defensive midfield, stepping out from his usual centre-back role well. His positioning wasn't great to begin with but got better while his passing was very good, both short and long range. Harry Forster played off of the two strikers and once again impressed in the role. Pereira and Maclean didn't really click today in the wider positions. Folivi and Cassidy played up front with the former failing to score for the first time this season despite having a very good game. His touch was much better today and he often turned his marker to create space for himself. One black mark for an obvious dive late on in the area. Very poor. Cassidy grew into the game and came more to the fore in the 2nd-half when there were slight tactical changes by both sides. Once there was more space for him to make runs out wide he linked up much better with the midfield causing the Crewe defence problems by stretching them along the back line. He also scored with a very deft header from a free kick in the dying minutes for his first of the season.

    Rather worryingly, Harry Hudson appeared to collapse as the half-time whistle blew and was stretchered from the field. I asked one of the players not involved today (Reece Miller) what had happened and it seems he fainted. There has been no official news but I did send a well wishing tweet which the player has since replied to personally, without details.

    Thoughts on individual players. I concentrated on the defence a lot today meaning the midfielders & forwards will only have very brief reports:

    g/k - Howe (20)
    Very vocal and generally his handling was very assured. One flap at a corner & one sliced clearance but otherwise no complaints at all. No real chance with either goal.

    right back - Eleftheriou (20)
    Captain for the day and a steady performance. Solid defensively but no real attacking threat with the ball despite advanced positioning. Very strong physically and never stopped running. Passing was safe, positioning good and seems an influential individual.

    left back - Kieron Holsgrove (18)
    I was very impressed with Holsgrove today. Positionally aware & strong in the tackle. Quick enough and though stronger with his left foot he looked comfortable with his right foot too. His range of passing was very good though maybe tried the Hollywood cross field pass too often when a safer ball to keep possession would have been a better option. Able to beat a his man going forward and linked well with both the midfield and strikers.

    centre-back - Ben Tricker (17)
    Very tall but strangely not overly impressive in the air, often misjudging the flight of the ball meaning his clearing headers were either missed or weak. Not quick but positionally okay. Looked rigid and a little hesitant in tackling. Passed out of defence well and looked comfortable with it at his feet.

    centre-back - Harry Hudson (17)
    Tall but like his defensive partner Tricker he looked rigid and hesitant in the tackle. Okay in the air but did appear quite slow. Not so composed with the ball at his feet and seemed happier kicking it long.

    The centre backs initially sat deep but pushed higher as the 1st half progressed which meant both were caught out with well placed passes over the top.

    defensive midfield - Joy Mukena (19)
    Very comfortable with the ball and can pick a pass, short & long. Lacking positional awareness initially but grew into an unfamiliar role. Most notable was his awareness of who was where before receiving the ball to feet. This meant once he was in possession he could evade a tackle or release the ball easily and he rarely gave the ball away. 2nd-half played centre-back and looks very composed there. He knows when to tackle & when to hold off and has good aerial presence.

    wide right midfield - Ryan Maclean (16)
    Very comfortable on the ball when dropping deeper but doesn't look as impressive when pressed by an opponent. Willing to get stuck in and looked better as a defensive midfielder in the 2nd half.

    wide left midfielder - Dion Pereira (19)
    Brief glimpses of tricky footwork but for me he lacks any real defensive side. For someone so obviously gifted with the ball it's frustrating to see the game pass him by at times. He did play one glorious ball over the top in the 1st half and a cracking curling shot against the left hand post in the second. Maybe I'm being unkind because it looks like he could offer so much more.

    attacking midfielder - Harry Forster (18)
    A very intelligent player positionally and good at creating space with twists & turns under pressure. A willing runner without the ball and sees a pass well. In the right place at the right time for a tap in to open the scoring.

    forward - Michael Folivi (20)
    A very good game today and stayed connected to his strike partner well. Good close control and lay offs to the midfield meant Watford could build pressure. Ran the channels well and had some neat dribbles. He does tend to cut onto his right foot a lot and will be predictable for more experienced opponents.

    forward - Ryan Cassidy (17)
    Neat and tidy but lacks a little sharpness around the box maybe. Very good movement in build up play, good with passing early and a very delicate flick header for his first of the season. I don't think I've seen the best of Ryan yet but he looks a solid enough player so far.

    Jayden Bennetts (17) for Hudson (h/t)
    Bennetts played wide midfield and made some telling runs with the ball showing excellent close control and played with his head up. His through balls were usually well timed & weighted for the forwards. On first viewing he looks very promising.

    Ryan Suckling (17) for Tricker (64)
    Straight swap at centre back, Ryan looked more assured in the middle than at left back against Sheffield United. Showed more agility and heading prowess than Hudson & Tricker and was quicker too. Very vocal.

    Sonny Blu-Lo Everton (16) for Forster (84)
    With WFC chasing for an equaliser it was difficult to see any real pattern of play so Everton got a little lost in the mix for the final few minutes. He did look quick though with a decent first touch but impossible to judge any real strengths with so little time on the pitch.

    Over all Mukena and Forster impressed again while Holsgrove stood out at left back. All three showed consistent passing skills, awareness, positioning and a willingness to work their socks off for the time they were on the pitch. Well played indeed.
    jw-, DrewH, nornironhorn and 7 others like this.
  33. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

    A very brief report from the official site of the under-18's win away to Sheffield United last week

    Watford Under-18s' Jack Burchell scored on the stroke of half-time to set the young Hornets on their way to a 1-0 away win over Sheffield United.
    The Blades failed to clear a corner, and Burchell was the quickest to react, slotting low into the corner from close range.

    Team; Hoskins (GK); Trialist, Tricker, Suckling, Mullings; Blu Lo Everton (Matthews, 80), Burchell, Trialist, Hutchinson; Sesay, Bennetts.
    Subs not used; Horswood, Baptiste, Trialist, Langston.

    On Saturday September 1st the under-18s won 5-3 at home to Burnley. No official report as of yet.
  34. oxhey67

    oxhey67 Squad Player

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  35. Moose

    Moose First Team Captain

    We have a player called ‘Blu Lo-Everton’?

    You are shitting me aren’t you?

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