Everton win Premier League 2: What happens next?
Written by Simon Austin — April 17, 2019
EVERTON won the Premier League 2 title for the second time in three years with a 1-0 win over second-placed Brighton on Monday.
David Unsworth's U23 side secured the title with a game to spare thanks to a brilliant first half strike from Josh Bowler. Former Everton central defender Unsworth, who also led his side to the title in 2016/17, said: “I’m very proud and it’s a great night for the club. We should have been out of sight and scored maybe three, four or five goals. But we won the game and that was the main thing.
“I’m so proud of this group of players and my staff as well, because they have worked so hard. It was a great performance tonight. Fortune favoured us a little bit, but I think we deserved that tonight, because we’ve been fantastic all season.
“Since the first day of pre-season, on 1 July, the players have been amazing. We work them very, very hard – and to get over the line and achieve something like this is a great feeling.
“They are all very together as a group, they’ve got a real desire to win and they’ve just got better and better as the season has gone on.”
However, none of the side that clinched the title in 2016/17 has gone on to establish themselves in the Everton first team. Full-back Jonjoe Kenny has come closest, making nine Premier League appearances this season. However, that's down from his 19 games last term.
Five other players went on to play for the first team after that 2016/17 PL2 title win - Beni Baningime, Morgan Feeney, Matthew Pennington, Kieran Dowell and Muhamed Besic - but none of them has featured in the Premier League so far this season. Two of the players - Bassala Sambou and Feeney - were in the U23 side that beat Brighton on Monday night.
The fact that Everton have had five managers - Roberto Martinez, David Unsworth, Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva - since May 2016 has not helped the progress of their young players.
It’s actually two of the Liverpool team that beat Everton 2-1 in the final game of 2016/17 at Goodison that have gone on to make names for themselves, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez becoming regulars for both the Reds and for England.