Whilst Liverpool’s first team may have struggled for form this season, behind the scenes at Anfield there is something of a revolution taking place.
During the summer Rafa Benitez charged former chief scout Frank McParland with coming back to the club after a stint at Bolton Wanderers as general manager to assess the clubs youth academy. After a month of looking into what could be done differently to help turn the reserves and youth sides into feeding Liverpool with higher class players, McParland was hired as new academy director. Furthermore Benitez brought highly respected Spanish coach Jose Segura onboard as technical manager. These two men are beginning to mould and build a youth side that will hold numerous players able to break into and challenge for the first team.
Liverpool’s youth academy has been through a bit of a dry spell. Considering the likes of Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen all made it through to the first team and international honours. Little has arrived since and money has been spent covering positions instead of looking at the youth options. This is something Rafa Benitez has clearly been keen to change with an incredible sixteen members of the academy staff let go over the summer and replaced. The acquisition of McParland and Segura is believed to be key in turning around the academy’s fortunes. Whilst much is known about McParland in this country as a former scout at Liverpool, Segura is more ambiguous to English eyes.
Jose Segura’s CV is one of the best, the former Barcelona coach and reserve assistant has helped nurture the careers of none other than Cesc Fabregas , Mikel Arteta, Andres Iniesta and Gerad Pique to name but a few. Not only has been involved in coaching some of the best players in the world at youth level, he has won 2 league titles and a national cup with Greek champions Olympiakos as manager. Segura was thrust into the position after the sacking of Takis Lemonis in 2008 and left at the end of last season. He is seen as pivotal in the coaching of new talent.
With Liverpool’s already vast array of scouts and networks around the world McParland is helping secure the signings of some of the best young talent. Only last week Liverpool signed 15 yr old Raheem Sterling for £300,000 from QPR. The youngster is being dubbed as one of this country’s most exciting prospects. Labelled as a real coup for Liverpool after the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City were after the midfielder. This is seen to be future policy for Liverpool.
Liverpool already have some decent youth players coming through the system with Tom Ince and Krisztian Adorjan currently receiving much praise for their performances in the Liverpool under 18 side. Segura’s work with them is highly anticipated. Whilst in the reserves and now pushing for first team appearances the highly talented Spaniard Daniel Pacheco and the now on loan striker Krisztian Nemeth who has been scoring regularly for AEK Athens. So the future does look bright.
A new dawn is taking place at Liverpool, a new academy direction of signing up the hottest young talent around the world, much akin to Arsenal. Manager Rafa Benitez is attempting to model the Gunner’s ideology. He told the BBC ‘We know there is a big difference with Arsenal, who can pay millions for Denilson and also spend big on Walcott and (Abou) Diaby. We are trying to do the same things on a lot less money, so we have to work twice as hard.’ Whilst there is no guarantee the players that are being earmarked for possible first team action will reach the levels of Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres, the infrastructure and highly qualified personal are in place. The next few years could be very fruitful for Liverpool’s new look academy.
What do you think of Liverpool’s new look academy? Is there any youth players you know of that could make the grade In Liverpool’s first team?
You can follow all Matthew Balmforth’s blogs on twitter:http://twitter.com/Soccer_Opinion