Ronald Koeman: I am not afraid to play youngsters no matter what Southampton say

Chris Bascombe
The Telegraph
Ronald Koeman was accused of not caring about the Southampton youth set up - Getty Images Europe
Ronald Koeman was accused of not caring about the Southampton youth set up - Getty Images Europe

Everton manager Ronald Koeman says his use of Academy players this season has dispelled the myth he does not give young players a chance.

Koeman was accused of showing little interest in the youth ranks during his reign at Southampton, whereas at Goodison Park teenagers such as Tom Davies have earned swift elevation into the first team.

The Dutch coach says it is the quality of the players that dictates selection, arguing the lack of progress of youngsters at his former club this season proves his judgment was correct.

“Maybe in Southampton they can look how many players made their debuts in the first team of Southampton when I was the manager,” said Koeman.

“Why didn’t they play for the first team more regularly? Because they were not good enough. This season they played in Europe and the manager was using a lot of players to have rotation. Now they don’t play in Europe tell me which young player is now in the first team? Nobody.

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“I know that I am a manager who is really giving young players a chance when they deserve it. I am not doubting whether to give a young player a chance instead of an older player. But that was in Holland, Spain and Southampton and also in Everton. But I don’t need credit for that from Southampton fans now I am in Everton.

“I see differences in how I like to work with young players and how I like to give young players a chance maybe [more] than the English managers because I know English football people say you have to look out for young players. They say they can play 15 or 20 games and not more. They are afraid. I am not afraid to put young players in but maybe they are. It is all about the talents of the young players. If they have the talent you have to give an opportunity.  If I have a second centre back and he is 20 and I think he can do the job, then I don’t sign a centre back as a third option. That’s the way I like to work.”

<span>Tom Davies has caught the eye at Goodison Park this season&nbsp;</span> <span>Credit: Rex Features </span>
Tom Davies has caught the eye at Goodison Park this season  Credit: Rex Features

Davies’ progress has been one of the highlights, not just of Everton’s season, but the Premier League as a whole.

“I did not expect him to play all the games when I first put him in the team because normally young players dip after performing,” said Koeman.

“It is really impressive how he is doing from the first game until now. Of course he needs to learn but he is really confident in the team and the team is really confident in him. He is showing great football and improving as a player in the midfield.

“He is really down to earth boy and is working hard.”

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