Football FanCast guest columnist Kevin Mason feels that Liverpool should perhaps follow Spurs' lead by scrapping the reserve team, in order to speed up the Academy player's progress.
Rafa's reform of the Academy, with a little help from Segura and McParland, is certainly making progress, with every other day a new signing or starlet arriving on trial from some corner of the world. A quintuple of Hungarians are the latest to arrive at Melwood to be put through their paces, as the clubs looks to make sure that the cream of Europe don't slip through their fingers.
To be honest there is a part of me that thinks this is a good policy for the club, but there is also a nagging part that feels perhaps the problem wasn't a lack of ability, but more the opportunity they are given to progress. I'm not suggesting for a minute that Rafa is failing them by not giving them a chance in the first team, but I believe it is the interim period before that sees the failing of their progress. Reserve team football just isn't competitive enough and they all really need to be sampling first team action elsewhere.
Let's look at Arsenal's model for example as this is clearly the one Rafa is looking to follow with his current recruitment drive. Wenger nurtures them slowly and just before he feels they are ready to make the transition he sends them out on loan to competitive teams in order to get a season long experience. It gives Arsene the opportunity to weigh up which players have got it and which ones haven't as was proven at Birmingham City, where Bendtner was deemed good enough to make the grade, while Muamba and Larsson were deemed not and sold on. At the end of the day you never know if the promising youngsters are going to make it, unless they are given some competitive action.
I was intrigue to see that Spurs took the unprecedented step of scrapping their reserve team for the reasons mentioned and preferring to send their talents out on loan to gain experience in a competitive environment oppose to the reserve league, which is no more than a pre-season friendly in terms of commitment. In all honesty it makes total sense and Spurs have the standpoint that there will always be teams available for a friendly if they wish to experiment with certain players, therefore he is gaining far more from it and makes the selection process of which players have got it, or not, a whole lot easier. It is a policy that I really think that should be considered and has the possibility of fast tracking our Academy players to the first team a damn sight quicker. Wouldn't someone like Darby or Spearing benefit from a season loan at a top Championship club, oppose to playing regular reserve team football?
I know too many it may seem rather odd to remove the reserves, but ultimately I believe it has a lot of merits. Our failure to develop players through the system has gone on for far too long and something needs to change. I appreciate there is no guarantee that it will make a difference and perhaps our failings was down to a lack of quality in our ranks, but surely it is worth a try.