In the modern era it is refreshing to see local-born academy players pushing for a place in the senior squad, but the nature of the short-term thinking which runs rife in Premier League football could ultimately come back to haunt Everton’s Tom Davies.
Football managers have never been under more pressure to meet the expectations of billionaire owners. After pumping millions of pounds into their clubs, owners expect results at the click of a finger, affording little time for managers to slip up for any significant period of time.
The exponential rise in transfer fees and the number of tycoon owners in European football has naturally resulted in stronger competition for places in star-studded senior squads, and that combined with the rise in short term thinking has restricted the number of academy players breaking through in the Premier League.
In Tom Davies’ case, Everton’s decision to sign Andre Gomes, the fine form of Idrissa Gueye and the mounting pressure on Marco Silva to succeed has restricted his opportunities this season.
Davies (valued at £13.5 million by Transfermarkt) is the first major prodigy to emerge from the academy since Ross Barkley. There was a time when the youngster appeared well on his way to doing what the now Chelsea playmaker could never manage on Merseyside: to fulfil his potential and win over the supporters, but his reputation has dwindled in recent months in tandem with an alarming dip in form.
That Davies was withdrawn at half-time in Everton’s FA Cup tie with Lincoln City speaks volumes about how ineffective he has been of late, and with Farhad Moshiri adding further pressure on Silva in the public eye it’s difficult to see a way back for the 20-year-old this season.
At this moment in time, Davies is threatening to become another Barkley: a player who flirted with Everton stardom but ultimately fell well short of expectation before embarking on a new challenge.
The problem for Davies is that the will of the supporters for him to succeed evokes a stronger level of criticism towards him when things aren’t going his way, which in turn adds further pressure onto his young shoulders and impacts his quality when he is handed a rare opportunity to shine.
It’s unlikely that Silva will be open to the prospect of sending Davies out on loan but a temporary switch away from Everton might just give him the boost he needs to kick-start his career.
Davies’ compelling performance in the 4-0 demolition of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City feels like an eternity away now, but Silva must find a way of keeping him happy, otherwise Everton could end up facing another tale of what might have been for a future local-born star.
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