Date: 9th February 2015 at 5:01pm
Written by:

Ever since Steven Gerrard announced he was leaving at the end of the season there has been an outpouring of grief from Reds fans.

A quick glance at the skipper’s instagram page shows almost every picture posted is met with dozens of comments begging him to stay.

While Stevie has without question been a phenomenal player and an incredible servant for the Reds, this reaction seems a little over the top.

The captain is still one of our top players but I would argue that the midfield functions better without him.

Brendan prefers a high energy pressing game which favours the younger legs of Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen.

The outpouring of emotion comes not just because Stevie has been a fantastic player but because he is a scouser.

For the last 20 years our star players have often been from Liverpool.

Through the dismal nineties Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler gave us something to cheer, while in recent years both Jamie Carragher and Stevie came through the academy to star in the first team.

So what has happened to our academy?

Stevie graduated into the first team in 1998, the very same year that we opened a new state of the art academy complex.

Despite the improvement in facilities no first team regulars have come through the academy since the skipper.

Stephen Warnock is probably the best player to come through the academy, even though the full back enjoyed some success in the Premier League we are hardly kicking ourselves for letting him go.

Of the current squad Jon Flanagan showed plenty of potential last season and Brendan has spoken highly of Jordan Rossitier, but both face stiff competition if they are going to become first team regulars.

Perhaps we are guilty of training young players a little bit too much where we used to let young talent develop.

You could also argue that youngsters just aren’t given a real chance.

It was easy to give young players a go in the 90s, the Reds weren’t playing well and we were going to finish mid-table no matter what, so there was no risk in trying them out.

At the turn of the century Gerard Houllier made Liverpool more competitive thanks to a flurry of foreign imports.

A rule change in 2001 meant four teams qualified for the Champions League, the financial rewards on offer made missing out unthinkable so the manager was unwilling to gamble on young players.

At any rate Houllier often looked to his native France rather than the club’s academy for young players. Anthony Le Tallec and Bruno Cheyrou hardly vindicated that decision.

When Rafa Benitez took over it initially looked as though the academy graduates would be given more opportunities.

Darren Potter featured in both Champions League qualifiers and Rafa fielded experimental sides in the League Cup giving the likes of David Raven and John Welsh a chance to stake a claim.

Despite the Reds lifting the FA Youth Cup in 2006 and 2007 the players responsible for the success rarely featured as Rafa constantly signed young players from other clubs.

This trend has continued with the majority of our young first team players signed from other clubs.

The effect young, local players can have is enormous as Chelsea discovered on New Years Day.

The league leaders were 1-0 up at White Hart Lane before an inspired Harry Kane turned the tie on its head.

Tottenham fans are keen to remind us that Kane is one of their own, he was joined in the starting XI by two other local lads Ryan Mason and Andros Townsend.

For the home fans this wasn’t just Spurs beating Chelsea it was a Spurs team full of local talent ripping one of their biggest rivals to shreds.

Our transfer record in recent years has been poor, bringing through local youngsters is an easy way to fix this.

Saturday’s derby was almost certaintly Stevie’s last, and for more than a decade he has been a thorn in Everton’s side.

After he’s gone where are the local lads who are going to step up to secure the bragging rights for us?


Comments are closed.