There is no doubt that we witnessed something truly special from Barcelona in the Champions League Final when they beat Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson was obviously impressed by what his team was up against and suggested that Barcelona side was the best he has faced as Manchester United manager. Now the challenge is how can that be matched in the future and will there ever be a English team that have the same level of passing ability that Barcelona showed.
Ferguson fears that they won’t be matched unless youth coaching is reformed in England. Rules are currently agreed between the FA and the Premier League that limit coaching on players 16 or younger to just 90 minutes each day. No such restrictions are in place in Spain and it’s certainly an advantage to have more flexibility on coaching. Ferguson said “We hope that in years to come our coaches will be able to spend more time with young kids, to teach them the basics, the technical abilities and the confidence to keep the ball all the time. We are good at it, but not as good as Barcelona at this moment in time. It is a wonderful challenge and we should always accept a challenge.”
Changes to the coaching rules and guidelines may help change things – however there are no signs that such a change will happen soon. Therefore, it’s down to clubs to look at the situation and decide how they can at least try and get to the Barcelona level. But please let’s remember that the team and standards at Barcelona were not achieved over night; that team took years to develop and that was after the correct set-up was in place with some of the World’s best coaches. Furthermore, their current team features a certain Lionel Messi – who most people consider the World’s best player.
So does any English team have a chance of emulating the success Barcelona has had? Well it will take time, but maybe Liverpool do. The reason why is the fact that two men that were influential at Barcelona, Rodolfo Borrell and Jose Segura are both part of the youth and reserve coaching set-up at Liverpool – something that Rafa Benitez set up in his time as Liverpool manager.
Rodolfo Borrell was the under 18 coach at Liverpool and has recently agreed a new deal and he will now be moving to become the new reserve team coach. The Liverpool youth system is already starting to bear fruit with Jay Spearing and Martin Kelly getting their fair share of first team action. It now makes sense for Borrell to move into heading up the reserve team – to further develop those young players and hopefully get more involved in the first team. Borrell will also work closer with manager Kenny Dalglish and will be able to keep him fully updated on the reserve team players.
Borrell’s career prior to joining Liverpool makes impressive reading; he joined Barcelona in 1996 and spent 13 years with the La Liga giants and during that time he made significant progress in Barcelona’s youth coaching set-up. Borrell coached all age groups from U11 to U17 level and worked closely with Liverpool’s academy technical manager Jose Segura and current Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola. Barcelona was hugely successful during the time that Borrell spent their winning nine league titles, three cup competitions, one national championship and one World Club Championship. Borrell helped develop some of Barcelona’s players of the past and present such as Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas, Bojan Krkic, Giovanni Dos Santos and Dani Pacheco (now at Liverpool).
No doubt Liverpool fans will be hoping that Borrell can enjoy a similar level of success at Liverpool and in the future we will be raving about Liverpool in a similar way to Barcelona. When Borrell heard about the opportunity at Liverpool he said “When I heard about the opportunity to work with Jose Segura, who I already knew, at such a massive football institution as Liverpool, I felt so excited and honoured. We have a great challenge but also a great opportunity at the academy and I am delighted to be part of the project. I can’t wait to get going.”
That challenge remains as great as ever, but you tend to feel that with Borrell Liverpool are in great hands and he will do everything he can to develop this team. However, it is important to remember that Borell is just one half of this double act Jose Segura will also play a very important role in the development of Liverpool Football Club.
Jose Segura is very much in control of what goes on at the Liverpool academy as the academy technical manager. His role at Barcelona involved working with both the youth set-up and the Barca B team. His role with the Catalan giants also saw him develop some of the players Borrell was associated with – but also Victor Valdes, Andes Iniesta and Mikel Arteta. Segura reports directly to the youth base director, Frank McParland. And these three men, McParland, Segura and Borrell will play a very important role in the future of Liverpool Football Club.
At this stage it’s impossible to say what the future may be for Liverpool – but it seems that with the set-up they have then they have a good chance of developing the team. The fact that Segura is in charge of the academy and Borrell of the reserves is very important and provide that link from the youth team to the reserve team to the first team.
Just for fun let’s fast forward a few years and assume that Liverpool have just won the Premier League title and the Champions League. It may have extra benefits beyond only Liverpool Football Club. Just take a look at the Barcelona squad at the moment 12 of their current 22 player first-team squad is Spanish. Now, I take the point that they haven’t all been developed at the Barcelona youth system – with David Villa being a player that hasn’t been, but a lot of them have. Therefore, if the Liverpool team is developed in a similar way then it will be good news for the England team.
It could even go further than that though because if Liverpool shows what can be done then fellow Premier League teams may follow their approach – especially with the financial fair play rules coming in that will mean teams will need to develop their own players to some extent. So the future will certainly be interesting – but Liverpool appears to have a chance of bright future with the influence of Borrell and Segura.