Everton Under-18s boss Paul Tait has provided an insight into the character traits he wants to see from the young players stepping up to his squad for the first time this pre-season.
The majority of last season’s Under-18s side are training with David Unsworth’s Everton Under-23s, with some also given the opportunity to take part in First-Team sessions.
Tait, therefore, is currently working exclusively with players starting their first-year scholarships – and he explained how he seeks to help the Toffees’ emerging talents adapt to the demands of becoming full-time professional footballers for Everton.
“Every day now is about working on the mentality, the behaviours and the values of the players,” Tait told evertonfc.com. “That’s the hard work, dedication and the application we’re looking for.
“As a coach, I just try to help them in any way I can to adapt, because going fully professional can be a bit of a shock for the boys sometimes.
“They will do massive amounts of physical work, more than they’ve ever been used to. You want to see real resilience and fight because it’s going to be tough [in pre-season].
“You’re looking for the boys who dig deep and show grit and determination. That’s then infectious. If you’ve got leaders in the group who display those qualities, then you hope the others will follow.
“That’s the psychological side and then there are the physical demands, because they’re training every day.
“Those factors [mentality and fitness work] will be the focus in the first six weeks of pre-season, then it’s about embedding tactically what we want to do – although we’ll obviously be drip-feeding that tactical information throughout our practice sessions and friendly matches.”
Tait says he has been encouraged by how his young players have acclimatised to full-time training so far.
He also discussed his focus on creating an enthusiastic, challenging atmosphere within his squad that inspires self-improvement and strengthens team spirit.
Tait added: “I have to say, the boys have been really good in terms of their behaviours so far. They’ve given everything.
“It’s important, too, that they enjoy it.
“We have an elite environment here and it’s a learning environment. But it has to be fun and enjoyable, too.
“As staff, we have to make sure the players turn up at the training ground every morning eager to train, learn and play.”
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