David Unsworth called for Everton’s next manager to build a team around the club’s young players after they inspired a 3-0 victory over Norwich City.
Interim boss Unsworth, who manages Everton’s Under-21s, handed full senior debuts to Tom Davies and Kieran Dowell for Everton’s final Premier League match of the season, and they repaid his faith with a pair of match-winning midfield performances.
The young pair had a hand in goals from James McCarthy, Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas, and young defenders Matthew Pennington and Jonjoe Kenny also played a part in the victory.
Unsworth, who took charge of the side following Roberto Martinez’s dismissal earlier this week, said: “I was delighted that the team could put that performance in, and I was delighted that they got the win.
“If there was a script I could have written, it would have been exactly what has happened. From minute one to the last minute, I thought we were fantastic and I was a very proud man stood on the line there.
“I thought the young lads were terrific. I thought Matty Pennington started the game really well. Unfortunately he had to come off with a hamstring [injury] and it was a case of ‘no problem’ – Jonjoe Kenny has been playing that role all season. He has been Under-21 captain and I had no hesitation about putting him in. He was outstanding as well.
“Kieran Dowell showed absolute flashes of genius. He showed the quality that he’s been showing all season with us in the Under-21s. As for Tom Davies, I thought his performance was probably man-of-the-match. For me, he was everything that we want in an Everton central midfielder: all action, good on the ball, spots danger, and it was a great midfield performance.”
Unsworth indicated that the four starlets are the tip of an iceberg of talent coming up through the ranks at Goodison Park, and predicted that there would be more new names emerging next season.
He said: “I’ve been saying for a couple of years that there’s not just a couple of players in each age group; we’ve got an abundance of quality. We probably have seven or eight players who, in my opinion, are either ready now or will be ready in 12 months’ time.
“That will be the skill of the manager: can he blend top, established players with a new generation of unbelievable talent? Tom and Kieran and Jonjoe and Matty – their pedigree is of the highest level. They’ve played for England all the way through the age groups. All they needed is the opportunity and they’ve got that today and they’ve certainly taken it.
“If you watched that performance, you know that Kieran, Tom, Matty and Jonjoe are here to stay, and you build a team around that.”
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