Everton can confirm that Tim Devine has been appointed to the permanent position of Academy Director.
He had been fulfilling the role in an interim capacity following the departure of Alan Irvine for West Brom in June.
Devine, who was previously the Club’s Head of Academy Management, has been tasked with marking out the player development pathway in order to maintain Everton’s commitment to producing footballers good enough to star in the first team.
The Academy, which has produced Wayne Rooney, Ross Barkley, Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert and Victor Anichebe among others, is now adopting the ‘footballing philosophy’ which emanates from first-team manager Roberto Martinez.
In his role, Devine will ensure each player is given every opportunity to fulfil his potential in a clear path that begins at the age of five and leads right through to the first team, with the focus on individual attention at each stage along the pathway.
Devine said: “The past work that has gone on at this football club’s Academy is fantastic. If you go back many years to previous Academy managers, Ray Hall in particular, the stability and the continuity and the success of the Academy has made my job so much easier.
“Latterly, Alan Irvine did a fantastic job, managing to achieve Category One status for the Academy and, really, I am just trying to maintain the excellent standards that have gone before me.
“It has been really important for us to work with the manager on a playing philosophy. That playing philosophy centres on the kind of work that he does at first-team level in terms of dominating possession of the ball and dictating the tempo of games.
“It’s about creative, attacking football when we are in possession and encouraging players to have a defensive intensity when we don’t have the ball.”
Devine’s Academy staff are tasked with developing players to play for Under-21s Head Coach David Unsworth, with the ultimate aim of adding to the 35-strong list of Academy graduates to have played for the first team.
Martinez places much emphasis on ensuring the player development process is smooth and consistent, all the way from five-years-old to the first team.
And Unsworth, Devine and the rest of the Finch Farm coaching staff are now in a position to deliver the best possible development pathway.
Unsworth said: “I can’t speak highly enough of the manager and his staff in terms of how I’m treated and the link between the first-team, Under-21s and Academy. There really is a fantastic platform here in terms of the relationship between all the staff.
“One of my key roles is to link the Academy with the Under-21s, and I think that is vital. It’s vital that I have those working relationships with the Academy and we have sat down on many occasions to plan for the future.
“Tim and I have a fantastic relationship – I was delighted when he got the job. He is a man with thorough knowledge of how to run an Academy having worked within the Premier League.”
This process is ably supported by Joe Royle in his role as Professional Development Co-ordinator.
The Blues legend is tasked with bridging any gaps in experience that can occur as a result of the sometimes sporadic Under-21 calendar.
“Under-21 football only goes so far,” explained Royle. “We have just had a month without a game, then two in one week, and now we have another three weeks or so without any games.
“There’s not enough games - or quality of games - to give these players experience. So I recognise development, or lack of it, and try to find a club accordingly for those guys who aren’t getting the number of games they need.”
Royle works closely with Unsworth to identify when players need loan experience, and then closely monitors their development while at their temporary clubs.
His introduction is one of several innovations piloted by Martinez as he continues to introduce his fresh ideas to Finch Farm.
Another such move sees Academy coaching staff work with different groups of players on a rotational basis.
“That’s another interesting innovation we have introduced,” explained Devine. “The manager has played an integral part in developing that strategy.
“All our staff get an opportunity to work with different age groups. We feel that creates a healthy challenge to players.”
Unsworth added: “It’s something the manager and I spoke about – having an assistant Under-21s coach like I was last year. We felt that there was enough quality in the Academy in terms of the coaches, because we have staff who are unbelievably well qualified all the way through the system.
“My knowledge now of the Under-9s, Under 10s and all the way through the Academy is far greater than it was at the start of the season. That is vital when it comes to making decisions and you’re looking at big decisions in terms of carrying groups forward.
“We want to be ground-breakers. This Club has always produced homegrown talent and always given opportunities, but we want more. We’re forever striving to be as good as we can and I just think this has taken us to another level, which nobody else is doing.
"The big thing for me is that we have a manager and a football Club that will give opportunities to young players.”