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.