Everton Under-21s manager Paul Tait believes Leighton Baines’ “high standards and meticulous planning” will see him flourish in his new role as the head coach of the Blues’ Under-18s.
Speaking in the second part of an in-depth evertontv interview, Tait also explained how Anthony Gordon’s progress is an “inspiration” to the players currently learning their trade in the Academy, as he paid tribute to the electric forward’s resilience and mentality.
Tait was appointed Under-21s boss in June, having been promoted from his role as Under-18s manager, where Baines worked as his assistant last season.
Tait says Baines’ wide-ranging coaching and personal attributes – combined with his vast experience of playing at the highest level – means he is the ideal candidate to lead Everton Under-18s.
“Leighton is such a professional and has got such high standards,” said Tait. “I’m sure he’s going to carry that over into his role now.
“He is meticulous in his planning. He is very detailed for someone who hasn’t coached very long. He has obviously carried that over from his fantastic playing career.
“And, most importantly, he also is a really good guy. He is humble and he knows every day is an opportunity for him to learn. I think that’s how he sees it when he comes into Finch Farm.
“With those priorities he’s got, I don’t think he’ll go too far wrong.”
On the importance of the Under-21 and Under-18 managers having a close relationship, Tait added: “I’ve had that role and I’ve got that empathy for an Under-18s coach…. players are transitioning through from his team to the Under-21s, then to the First Team.
“We need to discuss each individual player. We need to discuss his plan months in advance, so we know where that player is going.”
Tait says he is “excited and positive” about the direction Everton’s youth development programme is headed, particularly following the appointment new Director of Academy Gareth Prosser.
“We’ve recruited some really good staff – Gareth being one of them,” he added. “I think it’s a really good time to be a young player at the Club.
“We’re moving forward quickly.”
Everton Academy graduate Gordon achieved the latest milestone in an exceptional 12 months of progress last month when he was handed Everton’s prestigious number 10 jersey.
Tait says the attacker’s emergence as a First-Team regular – coupled with boss Frank Lampard’s willingness to give young players opportunities – has served to spread further enthusiasm and positivity throughout the Academy.
“In terms of Anthony, where he is now, it’s phenomenal,” he said. “It gives us all a massive lift and it gives the boys, in particular, that vision. They can see there is that pathway into the First Team.
“Frank Lampard, in the short time he’s been managing, has already got a reputation for bringing young players through. These boys know that and that will mean a lot of them.”
Tait says the hurdles Gordon has overcome during his burgeoning career will also provide an example to the current young talents in the Academy.
“If you want to be a professional footballer, there are peaks and troughs,” Tait said.
“Anthony didn’t have everything his own way here. He’s had to show real resilience at times. He had some problems – he was a late developer, so we had to wait for him to develop physically – and then suddenly he turned into this athlete. Before that, he used to struggle to finish games physically and mentally, too.
“That development process he’s been through, it’s something everyone can learn from.
“He’s a real inspiration.”
If you missed Part 1 of Paul Tait's evertontv interview, you can watch it below or here.
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TAIT'S VISION FOR 'DYNAMIC' UNDER-21 SIDE