It’s been quite an eventful time to watch our Boys in Blue, especially given how many occurrences Koeman has granted youth opportunities to shine in actual matches. With Tom Davies featuring in 19 games and 13 starts, Mason Holgate nearing 1000 minutes played, Calvert-Lewin starting 3, as well as Lookman starting thrice, these youngsters have a burden to carry, which could weigh heavy on their psyche.
Already, Koeman has given 1779 minutes to teenagers this season. This number shines especially with Mourinho sitting at 1446 (mostly Rashford), and Klopp at a lowly 244 minutes. Although we should cancel the parade as there is, in fact, no trophy awarded for this statistic.
It just seems to be a bit perfect that in a season after Martinez where we are in contention for a European spot, youth are being involved so brilliantly. Not to take away from Liverpool, but they seem to be doing pretty well for playing the amount of youth they do. It’s about finding a system that works for us, and quite apparently that includes having youngsters play important roles.
Following Tom Davies magnificent performance against City a while back, media outlets hurried to print out stories about how special this kid was. Specifically, how he’s better than the club he is currently employed by. Davies, complete with a style all his own, seems to be oblivious to all the media hype and just loves to play. He was starstruck (as well as Ademola) after scoring their first goals.
But there is a moment where hopeful brilliance transcends to weighted expectations. These two players have seemed to diverge in this sense, with Davies adjusting soundly. Lookman hasn’t featured significantly in our side since playing 60 minutes at home against Sunderland on the 25th of February. Juxtaposing him, Davies has been vital in our midfield playing three full 90 minutes in three consecutive outings.
Every player is different, and no two players will ever leave a similar legacy on the sport of football than the other. It’s very easy to compare Davies to a certain Dele Alli, albeit Dele’s game is overall much more matured. However, as the media loves to suggest, Dele just simply isn’t ready for his stardom.
A mistake from Alli branded him as an immature player and the media attention has certainly made him look like a bad person. Web sites are eager to get into his personal life to find out about his relationships, all in the effort to make him look questionable.
It comes as shocking that Spurs get treated perhaps worse than Everton by the media, despite being dominant in the league once again. Even given their strong title push this season, tabloids have produced headlines linking their stars away.
Dele seems to thrive off this pressure, having exploded for 16 goals this season as a midfielder and already claiming a player of the month award for January. His tally is ridiculous, bettering legends such as Frank Lampard.
Dele’s success is remarkable but even more noteworthy is the way he handled pressure. He was, and still is, labeled as immature, and is constantly being linked away from the club (despite Spurs mounting a significant title challenge). Perhaps Davies isn’t treated the same in that aspect, but some relatively young players are still slandered by the media daily.
It is common for Everton to be treated horribly by the media, and our players have nowhere to hide. Lukaku is seen as rebellious and destructive, only seeking out to score for himself. Barkley is way too good for little old Everton, and he needs to leave immediately.
It certainly didn’t help Barkley’s psyche when he was punched in a pub weeks ago. With all the tabloids ushering headlines in for Barkley to move because of his brilliant form, a juicy story like this certainly generated some money (The Echo wrote four articles alone about it).
How Older Players Fared
Speaking of Ross, it seems as if he has always had lofty expectations for him. whether it is, in fact, the tabloids, the international call-ups, or even our own chant that gets the Gwladys moving, we see something special in Ross. When he underperforms, was he having a bad day? Perhaps he was ill, or his head just wasn’t in the right place, or he gets labeled not good enough. Honestly, these bumps have only sharpened Ross, helping him blossom into the player he is right now.
Even Lukaku granted he has always had ambitious expectations on him since he joined, has blossomed well. He has converted his young, on-loan performance to a weekly expectation. His tally so far backs that statement up enough.
While the unpredictabilities with football are ubiquitous, Everton fans can only hope that our youngsters, akin to the electronic age, can use media callouts as motivation.
Idrissa Gueye has used social media differently, even embracing jokes made by fans. His stunning form this season has gained praise from many. After recently joining Twitter, Gueye has not been shy of posting humorous tweets.
Gueye currently leads the league in tackles (121) despite missing weeks from the AFCON.
Social Media can positively influence all sorts of players, but it can also have its repercussions. Constant slander is never good for the morale of a player and given every player most likely uses social media, negative comments are read.
Our players handle media different ways, but ultimately they have all worked out. Lukaku tweeted months ago “Blah blah blah…” in regards to allegations that he was ready to move. Barkley even favourited a tweet regarding the lack of play time he receives on the national team. Mentally, our players are in a great spot and hopefully, their form keeps continuing.