Bolton Wanderers manager Ian Evatt would has told The Manchester Evening News that he would not back Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola’s idea of allowing under-23s teams to compete in the EFL.
Following City’s thrashing 6-1 of League One Wycombe in the Carabao Cup in midweek, Guardiola mooted the idea of his youngsters playing in the third or fourth tier to aid their development.
However, despite expressing his admiration for Guardiola, Evatt questioned how much of a challenge the Premier League’s youth players would present for the EFL’s senior teams, telling the MEN: “I love Pep and his coaching methods but I wouldn’t be a fan of them entering League One or Two. If you look at how these lads get on in the Papa John’s Trophy against full men’s teams, I don’t remember them having much success.”
Evatt acknowledged that there is a place for reserve sides but believes they should play their counterparts, saying: “There is an argument for B Teams, I am a fan of the idea, but they should have their own league and play against each other. They shouldn’t be messing around with our pyramid because it is the best in the world and it should stay that way.”
Evatt also expressed concern that converting to the Spanish model, in which the traditional big teams field their B sides in the lower leagues, would affect the English game’s credibility, stating: “We shouldn’t tinker with things too much and end up like the Spanish league where you have Real Madrid B, Atletico Madrid B, Barcelona B, who play in their equivalent Championship but can’t be promoted. It becomes a farce and a bit false.”
Although Guardiola will have benefitted from the opportunity to blood his Barcelona youngsters in the Spanish second tier during his time at the Nou Camp, the larger teams do not have the level of power in England that their Spanish counterparts have in their country.
Furthermore, as the European Super League farce proved, English fans are committed to the football league pyramid. Therefore, expect any suggestion that Manchester City and other Premier League giants could play their reserves in the EFL to be quashed immediately.