Everton U23’s manager David Unsworth has joined the club’s director of football Marcel Brands in helping to push for Premier League clubs to form B-teams down in the lower divisions of professional football.
Previously, Brands pushed for this system to be used when he was at Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven. Eventually, a development side called Jong PSV joined the likes of Jong AZ, Jong Utrecht, and Jong Ajax as ‘B-teams’ in the Eerste Divisie – the country’s second tier.
Unsworth, himself a huge believer in this idea, is working with Brands to help push for a similar system in English football.
The former Toffees player told the Liverpool ECHO: “He was the main voice, from what he tells me, about bringing it in. I know he’s had meetings about it. He’s a massive, massive advocate – very similar to myself – of B-teams. I don’t know if it will ever happen.
“If I was going to offer anything, it would be that I’m not really bothered at what level you throw us in at because we can work our way up and that’s the challenge to the under-23s team.”
As is the case in Holland, clubs’ second teams such as Jong Ajax and Jong PSV are ineligible for playoffs, promotion and the KNVB Cup – the Dutch equivalent of the FA Cup. The maximum age of a player is 23, and those who have made more than 150 appearances for the first-team are unable to play.
Rules as such would be an essential addition if this were to take place in England. It would prevent super clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City from sending star players down to the B-teams who could potentially make easy work of the league.
For example, Marcus Rashford is still only 21, but as he has played 178 appearances for Manchester United’s first-team, he would be ineligible to play for the development squad and subsequently force the likes of Mason Greenwood to play there instead.
In recent times – especially this season – we have seen many young English talents breakout in the Premier League and force themselves into the England setup, like Fikayo Tomori.
However, players such as Phil Foden, who Pep Guardiola recently apologised to over a lack of game time, still cannot mark their mark on the first-team, despite their obvious talents.
There is, however, the unfortunate possibility it could make things tougher for Football League sides. No doubt it would be harder for teams to loan Premier League youngsters, as the parent club would most likely settle for them playing at the development squad instead. Teams lower down often depend on loaning young talent, as they struggle to acquire their own usually because of finances.
For example, the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount of Chelsea respectively helped Aston Villa and Derby County reach the playoffs last season. Had the B-team structure been in place, perhaps those clubs may not have loaned those players.
Although, when all considered, it seems like a revolutionary idea for English football. Currently, we are witnessing the likes of Rhian Brewster, who won the U17 World Cup Golden Ball and Golden Boot, either warm the Liverpool bench or play for academy sides.
If he were to join a reserve team in a lower league, perhaps Brewster could build on his exceptional start to his career, as he is now 19 and still yet to make his Premier League debut.