A lot of talk this week at Liverpool has been around the Liverpool youngsters. It is great to hear something different for a change dominating Liverpool news as in the past we were getting used to takeover speculation, court room battles, the team being in relegation trouble, Hodgson must go chants etc. But now that things have settled down at the club, we can be greeted with some positive news for a change.
This week started off very well for Liverpool as the Under 18s won 9-0 in the FA Youth Cup against Southend United. The talk of that game was Raheem Sterling as he scored 5 goals in that game. Raheem has been reward for his brilliance along with other Liverpool Academy prospects by being called up by Kenny Dalglish to travel with the first team for their Europa League game on Thursday.
The youth structures at Liverpool are looking great as the youngsters continue to win and improve their game. This success has a lot to do with Rafa Benitez. There are some fans who hated Rafa but one thing those fans can not take away from Rafa is the way he restructured the youth setup at Liverpool.
Rafa brought in Pep Segura, Rodolfo Borrell and Frank McParland in a bid to get the most out of the young players at the club. They have been doing a fantastic job and we are starting to see the fruits now. Yes, Rafa made some terrible signings during his time as Liverpool manager but he never stopped trying to buy young players from across the continent. In the days of Houllier, our youth setup was virtually nonexistent. Houllier tried to go out an buy the best young talent in Europe but he got it totally wrong. Do you remember when Houllier signed Bruno Cheyrou and said he had signed the next Zidane? Now we all know how terribly wrong that went.
But Rafa came in and got our youth setup going again and Kenny Dalglish is now carrying on from there together with the new owners who have insisted that they want to attract the best young talent in the game to Liverpool. Some people criticized Rafa for not giving youngsters coming through the youth system the chance to play in the first team. One name that springs to mind is Daniel Pacheco who is still in the Liverpool setup today but has not fully broken into the first team yet.
It is not easy to know when a player is ready to be thrown into the first team and maybe that is where Rafa got it wrong. Or maybe we as the fans demand players who we think are good enough to be in the first team to be given a chance but the staff who work with them day in and day out are better positioned to know when the right time is.
I have a feeling that Dalglish is going to reward the young players who he sees have potential by giving them a shot in the first team. Just look at Martin Kelly, he has been given his chance and now he is our first choice right back. The likes of Spearing and Shelvey have also been given a chance under Kenny. On Thursday in the Europa League we could see another youngster be given a chance as Raheem Sterling, Jack Robinson, Jonathan Flanaghan and England under-18 captain Conor Coady have all traveled with the first team.
The future is looking bright for Liverpool. We may not have to dig into the transfer market in years to come, to buy star players as hopefully the youth of today are going to be the big names in football in a couple of years time and they will all be playing for Liverpool.