ACADEMY NEWS

Unsworth Reveals How Baines Has Proved His Coaching Quality

David Unsworth has paid tribute to the dedication, energy and expertise Everton great Leighton Baines has shown in his first season working in a coaching capacity with the Club.

Unsworth took up a new position as Director of Academy last September, with Baines appointed Professional Development Coach as part of a restructure of the Blues’ youth set-up.

The framework was developed by Director of Football Marcel Brands and saw Joel Waldron become Academy Chief Operating Officer and John Ebbrell Head of Academy Coaching.

Baines’ new position sees the former England defender – who made 420 senior appearances during a stellar Everton career – work with the Blues’ Under-18s, Unsworth’s Under-23s squad and young First-Team players.

Unsworth revealed his admiration for the whole-hearted approach Baines has taken in his new role.

“I’ve been very impressed with Leighton,” said Unsworth, who combines his Director of Academy role with that of Everton Under-23s manager. 

“He’s thrown himself in at the deep end.

"He’s mentoring, delivering one-to-one sessions, he’s in the classroom with the players. He’s also working on the analysis side with the First Team, ourselves in the Under-23s and the Under-18s. He’s everywhere! 

“I’ve been really impressed with the dedication he’s shown, the hours he’s put in and the way he’s delivered to the players.

“He’s been a great benefit to us all and he’s helping our young players a lot.”

Unsworth’s additional remit as Director of Academy allows him to bring all of the teams below the senior men’s squad into one management structure, providing a smoother pathway through the Academy and into the First Team.

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09:15

UNSWORTH ON EXPANSIVE NEW DIRECTOR OF ACADEMY ROLE

Everton want to have ‘best Academy in the world’.


Unsworth declared his determination to “repay the faith” shown in him by Director of Football Brands, who joined Everton in 2018 and signed a new three-year contract with the Club last month.

“Marcel was a great appointment,” he said. “He is calm, he’s steady, relaxed – and he’s passionate.

“I think I was the first guy to greet him here at USM Finch Farm when he came a couple of years ago. We had a great walk around the facility, we spoke about young players. 

“He is very passionate about young players. He is always down in the Academy talking to me, talking to the staff, and he’s at the games. He’s a really, really good guy. 

“I’ve got a fabulous relationship with him.

“He impresses me with his knowledge all the time. He has become a true Evertonian.

“He had a vision of what he wanted in the Academy, and he’s got that now. 

“Certainly, I have to repay the faith he’s shown in me by delivering year-on-year and trying to get more quality players from the Academy and the Under-23s into our First Team.”

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09:57

BRANDS: WHY EVERTON STAY WAS AN EASY DECISION

Director of Football discusses new deal, Club's values and ambition.


Unsworth also explained how Everton Academy Chief Operating Officer Waldron provides further vital support.

Waldron manages operations relating to the Academy at USM Finch Farm and Unsworth says his expansive knowledge makes him a valuable sounding board.

“Joel is an outstanding member of staff in the operations department,” he said.

“He has been brought up with the Academy and we couldn’t ask for someone better in his role. He’s got great knowledge, great love of the Club – and he loves the Academy. 

“Off the pitch, he’s been a huge help for me, just as John Ebbrell has been on the pitch as well. 

“These guys are huge players in the day-to-day running of the Academy, and I couldn’t do the job without them.”

Unsworth has enjoyed significant success working alongside Head of Academy Coaching Ebbrell – who is also his assistant manager with Everton Under-23s – in recent years.

The pair have led the young Blues to two Premier League 2 titles – and Unsworth expanded on why his former Toffees teammate has proved an ideal fit for his wide-ranging new role.

“In that position [as Head of Academy Coaching], you’re looking for someone with real experience, who is a student of the game and who can think outside the box,” Unsworth says.

“You’re also looking for outstanding practitioner, who can hold his own in any session, with any age group, be it the First Team or an Under-10 side.

“I don’t think there is a more perfect role for John Ebbrell than this.

“He’s absolutely embedded in the DNA of this club. He was schooled by Colin Harvey and Howard Kendall, two absolute legends of our football club.

“Colin Harvey is certainly one of the finest coaches John and I have worked with. 

“So, for us to be able to pass on that expertise – and for John to be able to get those messages ingrained into our younger coaches…he has been perfect for the role."