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Liverpools Academy

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A good read.




Are Liverpool killing off the academy?

I came across this report on Liverpool reserves and would like to hear your opinions. IMO since we havent seen anyone break through to the first team from the academy since Gerard and Carragher, and going on the great sucess of last years reserves, i think Raffas doing a great job!


Liverpool’s reserves lost in the league for the first time in over a year last week, a record that brings back happy memories of an era where the second string used to routinely win the Pontins League under the guidance of future first team manager Roy Evans.

The strategy back then was also very similar tot e one that Rafael Benitez has been adopting even if the range of nationalities has been widened drastically. Players with potential are brought in with the aim of allowing them to develop within the club. Back then it was the likes of Ian Rush, Steve Nicol, Alan Hasen, Ronnie Whelan and Gary Gillespie, now it is Daniel Pacheco, Damien Plessis, Krisitan Nemeth, Dean Bouzanis, Nabil El Zhar and Mikel San Jose.

There is, however, one big difference: Beniez hasn’t been strengthening the reserves as much as he has been stacking them. A run down through the reserves squad reveals that there are more than 25 players available for Gary Ablett to chose from and that’s without including out of favour first teamers like Jermaine Pennant who made an appearance last week.

It is an anomalous situation. On the face of it, there is little wrong with such an approach. Most of the players have cost very little so the risk is minimal and if even one player become a first team regular then the club would have saved millions. And, even if they don’t , a good number of them have already built such a reputation that were they to be sold they would make a profit.

All of which adds to the situation’s attractiveness.

Yet for all those plus points, it is hard to escape the feeling that things have been overdone. Most of the players are in the 17 to 20 age bracket, a crucial period for one’s development. Playing regularly is critical to keep on improving yet this is impossible particularly with the limited game numbers of the current league structure.

And that’s only half the problem. With so many players jostling for playing time, how can Ablett even contemplate looking at how the kids at the academy are doing? How can the likes of Nathan Ecclestone, David Amoo, Marvin Pourie and Michael Scott – all players who need to step up a level to continue their development – progress if there are so many ahead of them?

Just as it was under Gerard Houllier, the impression is that the Academy is being treated like a foreign body not as part of the whole structure through which players can progress. Benitez’s recent admission that he intends to restructure the academy is as close to confirmation of that as you are likely to get.

Does this imply that Benitez would willingly block the progress of players because they are coming from the Academy? Of course not yet, having brought in so many players, the message that he is putting across is that there isn’t any room in his set-up for them.

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