Everton Under-18s are back in action on Saturday when they travel to Leeds United (1pm GMT). Ahead of the game, we caught up with manager Paul Tait, who has outlined how he is striving to continue his personal development...
Paul Tait has revealed how taking part in world-leading coaching courses and studying other elite European clubs’ methods are aiding his constant quest for self-improvement.
Tait’s passion for developing footballers is underlined by the fact he started working with Everton’s youngsters part-time at USM Finch Farm in the latter years of his playing career.
The former striker – who came through the ranks at the Blues’ Academy and went on to play for likes of Bristol Rovers, Crewe Alexandra and Rochdale – believes his appetite to expand his knowledge has been instrumental to his progress.
Tait explains how this desire has not dimmed as he seeks to help Everton’s current emerging talents benefit from the best learning environment possible.
“The secret is you’ve got to keep trying to improve all the time,” he says.
“You’ve got to look to find where you can gain more knowledge and more knowhow.
“I finished my UEFA Pro Licence in summer 2019. I got that qualification and it was an amazing course.
“I think there are only about 350 people in the world that have got the badge. That was a really important part of my development, but that was 18 months ago now so I’m looking for the next thing.
“I’m looking at different courses now and I want to go on some visits to different clubs. I want to see how different coaches work.
“Obviously, with the pandemic, that’s slowed down a bit.
“I plan on visiting Germany and Holland, and I also plan on visiting two clubs in Britain that are developing a great reputation in terms of developing players.
“If you think it’s time to stop learning or think you’ve cracked it, you’ll quickly start to go backwards. I just want to make myself the best I can be.
“The better I am and the more receptive I am to learning, then hopefully that filters down to the players.
“And, ultimately, we will get more players through the system and into our First Team.”
Teenage duo Tyler Onyango and Thierry Small became Everton’s latest Academy graduates during the Blues’ FA Cup fourth-round win over Sheffield Wednesday in January.
The pair were introduced from the substitutes’ bench with five minutes remaining of the Goodison Park tie, with 16-year-old Small becoming the Club’s youngest ever player.
This video is for Season Ticket Holders, Official Members and 21/22 Hospitality Members
This content is available for free to Digital Members
Free Digital Membership will provide you with the best possible experience when logged into the website, including access to the latest digital content.
Digital members will receive a monthly newsletter and get access to exclusive videos and regular member competitions offering money can’t buy prizes.
Your Digital account will also enable you to buy any tickets on general sale, and if you’re an Official member or Season Ticket Holder, the same login will allow you to access and manage your ticketing account.
To view this content you need to be a Season Ticket Holder, Hospitality Member or Official Member.
SMALL EXPLAINS 'BEST FEELING' AFTER CREATING EVERTON HISTORY
Onyango and Small have both honed their talents in Tait’s Under-18s set-up – and the manager explained how helping young players reach their full potential is the element of his job he enjoys most.
“The role is quite big,” he says.
“There are a lot of things around the edges you have to take care of, in terms of individual players, the programme and the curriculum.
“But the best bit is being out on the grass working with the players every day.
“And the matches, of course. Getting under the lights at USM Finch Farm. And the occasions we get to play at Goodison Park, of course, testing ourselves against the best.
“That’s what I enjoy the most, the big games, and working with the players as a team and on an individual basis.
“I’ll maybe work with our centre-backs, or I’ll take [forwards] Lewis Dobbin and Tom Cannon and do individualised finishing sessions, to help them improve.
“Or it could be working with our talented midfield players, working on rotation in midfield and getting into the technical detail out on the grass.
“The players are brilliant to work with, too, and Everton is just a great place to be.”
Visit evertonfc.com on Saturday afternoon for a full report from Everton Under-18s' clash at Leeds United.