Joe Royle is something of a legend around Goodison Park. The 69-year-old Liverpudlian started his playing career at the club, playing over 250 games for the club and scoring 119 goals.
He then went on to manage the Toffees from 1994 to 1997. The last time Everton lifted any silverware, the 1995 FA Cup, it was Royle who coached them to that success.
His affiliation with Everton did later continue. Royle took up a role with the youth team at Everton in 2014 and was acting as the coordinator for the talented Everton under-23s this season. That meant ensuring the needs of the young players were met and he was also the liaison between the club and any young players currently out on loan. For Everton, at the moment, that is a lot.
But in December, he stood down from his official capacity at the club and fair play to him. The man has devoted much of his life to Everton Football Club and not a single Evertonian in the land would begrudge him a happy retirement.
The problem, however, appears to be Everton not replacing him.
Back in March, one of Everton’s top talents spoke to Green’Un 24 about his loan spell at Ipswich Town. Callum Connolly, who won the World Cup with England’s under-20s in the summer, admitted he was not in contact with his parent club as much as he would have liked.
That sentiment has been relayed by another Everton loanee. Antonee Robinson, the American left-back who has been in great form at Bolton Wanderers, told Royal Blue Mersey he had not been in contact with his parent club regarding his future:
“No, not yet, I’ll probably have to figure that out in preseason when I’m with them.”
The concern for Everton fans is that their young players are being forgotten about. The Finch Farm factory has a rich history of developing top talent and at the moment it is flooded with brilliant players.
The likes of Connolly, Robinson, Jonjoe Kenny, Kieran Dowell, Anthony Evans, Beni Baningime, Fraser Hornby and Joe Williams all have the ability to make it at Goodison Park if they are nurtured correctly.
In the big spending era of Farhad Moshiri the club cannot forget their roots and tradition of developing young talent. Just look at how Tottenham have managed to blend the two dynamics for an example of how it can be done successfully.
Everton must ensure their talented youngsters feel like there is a pathway to join the likes of Tony Hibbert, Ross Barkley and Wayne Rooney in making it from the Everton youth-team to the first team.