14 Aug 2009

Rafa Benitez MUST give Liverpool’s young players more of a chance this season. And here's how...

One of the defining characteristics of Rafael benitez’s reign at Liverpool is the lack of young players making the step up from the reserves and becoming established in the first team. This season, I hope to see major progress made in this area, and progress *can* be made if Benitez changes his approach just a little.

Here is a list of examples of how Liverpool's youth system has been failing:
  • No young players established in the team in the last 10 years (5 years under Benitez).

  • Too many young players at the club, therefore creating unfair competition.

  • No young players given a fair chance to establish themselves.

  • Young players brought in for first team duty becoming bit-part players.

  • Young players repeatedly being loaned out, gaining experience but *still* not getting a real chance.

  • Squad fillers (Degen, Vorinin, Kromkamp etc) being acquired instead of promoting players from the reserve team to fill those places. This is clearly demotivating for youngsters.
Looking at Liverpool’s recent history: Emiliano Insua has managed only 15 in three seasons; Nabil El Zhar has made only 18 starts in three seasons; the likes of Stephen Darby, Damien Plessis and Jay Spearing have barely figured in the team over the last few years, and lots of other talented young players either never get a sniff of the first team or are sold/loaned out before being given a chance.

To realise the extent of the problem, just ask yourself the following questions:
  • How many players from Liverpool's youth set-up have become established in the first team over the last 10 years?

  • Realistically, how many young players in the current set-up will be given the chance to establish themselves in the first team?

  • How many of Benitez's youth buys have been a success?

  • How many of Benitez's young player purchases for the first team (Babel, Leiva, N'Gog etc) have been a success? How many look like they'll be a success or be *given the chance* to become a success?

  • Taking everything into consideration and regardless of who is to blame, has Benitez's preference for a massively inflated squad had a positive or detrimental effect on the progress of young players at Liverpool?
And it's not a case of youngsters not being good enough to displace established internationals and first team players - it's about *giving youngsters a consistent chance to make a breakthrough*.

Liverpool has one of the biggest squads in Europe, and there are negative consequences in having so many players fighting to get on the pitch, including:
  1. Limited opportunities – there is just no way all these players can make it into the first eleven! Going to Liverpool is, I’m sure, a dream come true for many of the young players who sign for the club. However, the reality is they will either end up being loaned out to the lower leagues, and/or be moved on in a year or two.

  2. Too much competition for places – Competition is generally a positive thing, but when it comes to competing with 7 or 8 other players for a place in the team, it just becomes counter-productive and breeds resentment and disappointment.

  3. No consistent development or progression of youth players - It’s been 10 years since the likes of Gerrard, Carragher and Owen broke into the first team. Since that time, not one young reserve/academy player has established themselves in the first team. This does not bode well for the future.

  4. Failure to grant opportunities – Young players filling out the squad are just not given a fair chance to make it. Benitez may grant players like Jay Spearing and Martin Kelly the odd appearance here and there, but we all know that based on past experience, they will not be given a fair chance to establish themselves.
With the above in mind, there are three things Rafa Benitez can do this season to give the club’s huge number of young players more of a chance:
  1. Use the League Cup to blood young players. By that, I mean every place in the team should go to reserve/academy players. Such a policy would also provide senior players with much needed rest.

  2. If the club qualifies for the CL second stage with a game to spare, fill the team with reserve academy players for the meaningless remaining game.

  3. If Liverpool are winning a game comfortable (i.e. by 2-3 goals/playing against 10 men), take senior players off earlier in the game and replace them with young players.
I don't see any reason at all why the above three things cannot happen. There is no benefit in repeatedly bringing young players on in the 83rd minute; these players need to be given a proper chance, and over the course of a season there are dozens of opportunities to make this happen.

In the longer term, the following should also happen in my view:
  1. Cut the squad by at least 10-15 players. Whatever happened to the ideal of having 2 players for every position? Has it now become 5 players for every position?!

  2. End the scattershot ‘buy everything in sight and hope for the best’ approach to buying young players. Focus on quality over quantity.

  3. Instead of filling out the squad with players like Andrei Voronin, Philip Degen, Andrea Dossena, Josemi, Jan Kromkamp etc, promote young players and give them their chance. Could they do any worse?!
As we all know, Benitez doesn’t like to take risks – he ‘prefers to be sure’, but bringing through players from the academy and reserve team is *not* taking risks – it is laying the foundation for Liverpool FC’s future.

There have been significant changes to the youth set-up this year, including the arrival of Kenny Dalglish to help out with youth development. Let’s hope this season we start to see some real progress.


  1. too true - rafa is a good coach, good tactically but moans a lot and is rather wasteful.

  2. If Rafa plays a youngster and the team loses because of it, you will be the first in line to criticize him.  Also, Rafa has been here for only the past 5 years while you blame the past 10 years on him.  What about writing a piece that is fair and balanced for once?

  3. Completely untrue.  I have never once criticised Benitez for playing young players.  And, as I outlined in the article, there are ways he can play youngsters *more* without the team being compromised.

    And where did I blame the last 10 years on him?  That's just blatant twisting of my words ;)

    I think what I wrote is fair - if you don't then that's fine.  And for the zillionth time, if you want balance, go and read BBC sport.

  4. I think the fact that Benitez has restructured the Academy over the summer and has been given more control of all aspects of the recruitment and youth policy, Shows that Benitez himself has recognised the past issues down in Kirkby...as always another Benitez bashing article from Mr Kanwar

  5. Your article is longwinded and repetitive. It's difficult to respond without being equally longwinded and repetitive.

    Young players such as Insua, Ngog, and El Zhar saw a fair bit of action last season. I'd expect them to see more this season, and to have improved for last season's experience. We might see Pacheco and Nemeth getting some first team action this season. If they don't it's because they're not ready or not good enough.

    There's no point in putting young players in the first team for the sake of it. It would only be detrimental to both the players and the club.

  6. I acknowledge that changes have been made in the article.  However, why has it taken 5 years for youth development to be prioritised?  Let me guess - it's Parry's fault; it's Hicks/Gillet's fault; it's Santa Claus's fault - basically  everybody but Benitez is to blame for Liverpool's youth failings?

  7. Yes thay could be worse.
    I agree there should be more breaking through but Rafa does give them their chances.  If we have a good established player why do we need to risk playing a young rookie in their place when the experianced player is available.
    i've been watching all the preseason games and the only yougsters that are looking good are Spearing, Nemeth and Pacheco. Ayala, San Jose and Kelly (our back up in defence) haven't performed great against the bigger clubs - and they weren't as big as teams we will play in Champions League games.
    I admit i've not been a fan of Dossena and i questioned the buying of Ngog after seeing Nemeth and Pacheco, but if they don't perform in the oportunities that Rafa gives them how can you justify playing them all the time.  There are big differences between the 1st, reserves and youth teams and a player who looks good at lower levels might not be good in the 1st team
    Spearing is going to have trouble getting in because he's a centre mid player and that's currently occupied by Lucas, Masch, Aquilani and Gerrard. Babel does have his moments but he needs to be more consistant.
    Nemeth and Pacheco are going to have trouble because of the formation we play and that for some reason Voronin and Ngog seem to be ahead of them in the pecking order.
    Insua will get more games this season i think especially at the start with Aurellio out and a deal for Dossena still a posibility.

  8. Sorry but this article is way off the mark.  Rafa has given plenty of young players chances.  FLO, ALT, Warnock, Mellor, Insua, Plessis, El Zhar,  Carson, Kirkland, Ngog. Hobbs, Paletta.

    Off all those players Insua is the only one who has proved good enough and why are you criticising Rafa for only playing Insua for 15 games in 3 years.  He only developed enough physically enough last year to be able for the riggers of the league last year.  Now his has he's been playing alot and would of played more if he was eligible for the champions league.

    Darby still hasn't developed which is why he has struggled to break through however if he hadn't of got injured last year he would of played against Boro when all the other RB's weren't fit.

    By bringing Kelly into the argument you have completely shown the lack of thought in you argument.  Kelly was out for 2 years with back injuries up until the early last year.  What was rafa suppose to do put him on the pitch in a wheel chair.

    I'm all for thoughtful criticism but so far none of the young players rafa has given a chance and subsequently let go have gone on to be anything better than average.  Lest we forget the average age of our reserve team when he arrived was 23, it's now 18.

  9. Though I agree with the general thought behind the article and would like to see more youngsters breaking through and given a chance, I have to say that what you have written is terrible, some redicalous facts and ideas, such as Insua getting 15 starts in 3 seasons, the lads only 20 how many fans would be happy with a 17 year old unknown boy playing left back for the team, plus I think in many peoples eyes, he's probably first choice left back - so has broken through.

    Second the Champions League place, at the start of the season we have to submit our squad to UEFA for the tournament and so there is a limit on places which means not many youngsters make the cut, you may have noticed that english youngsters do due to the need for home grown players in the squad. What would happen if we had some major injuries at the club and had to field a youngster in an important champions league game?

    Thirdly, as nice as it would be to be beating a team reduced to 10 men 2 or 3 nill with most of the second half to go to blood some youngsters - but when does that ever happen!

    Finally I know Benitez is a fan of a healty sized squad but accoring to you they have 88 players or no 55 players on the team sheet when they only 22......

    Having said all that it would be good if Benitez was able to give them more of a chance such as in the League Cup and I think we'll all be happy when we have some quality youngsters breaking into the first team...

  10. If you look at what Rafa says on this subject, he basically believes what mad-eyed moody says down the road (Ferg). Players who are put into the first team at too early an age peak too early, pick up too many injuries and become tactically naive, instead relying on pace too much. If they stay in the reserves they can develop their weaker foot, their set pieces, holding the line etc.

    Do you think that Insua will be able to develop his right foot whilst playing for the first team? Do you think that Spearing would get a look in at any set piece when Gerrard is on the pitch? Do you think Ngog could spend all week in the gym bulking up if he has to play on a saturday?

    Take one example - last year's footballers 'player of the year' (what a joke that was). Giggs will always be remembered  asa very good player but never seen as a truly great one because he is as one footed as George Best used to be. The difference between the two? Best was put into the reserves at the age of 17 and told he could only use his wrong foot. By the end of the year, his swinger was actually BETTER than his previous 'dominant foot'. At the same age, Giggs was trying to win titles with the first team, picking up hamstrings injuries which put his career was in the balance.

    I know what you mean though and so does Rafa. Hence, he picked more kids last year than he did for the previous four years put together.

  11. Please explain how the following players were given 'plenty of chances': FLO, ALT, Warnock, Mellor, Insua, Plessis, El Zhar,  Carson, Kirkland, Ngog. Hobbs, Paletta.

    Sub appearances that last 5-10 minutes do not constitute proper chances.  El Zhar has only had 15 starts in three years.  is that being given a chance? 

  12. You clearly aren't aware that until this summer the Academy operated as a separate entity to Liverpool football club, this meant that rafa had no control over the way it operated and yes that was because Parry didn't want the Liverpool manager to have total control over the way the club worked. It was the same under GH.

    This was the complete opposite to how the academy at Arsenal and UTD work where Fergie and Wenger have total control.  they got it on day one, rafa's had to wait 5 years.

  13. Flo and ALT had a couple of seasons under Gh and then rafa played them both for the first season he was with us.  They both played in our biggest games that season. FLO left because he wanted more first team games.  ALT gave up on fighting for a first team place and has since admitted it was the biggest mistake of his career.

    Warnock was a regular member of the first team but he didn't like the rotation system and asked to leave.

    Again Carson got his chance but to many howler meant he had to go, as for Kirkland rafa really rated him but a top club can't suvivor with a keeper who is always injured.

    Insua is our first choice LB so i don't know why your even arguing about him.
    Ngog is only a kid and has been here one year.  What do you expect Rafa to do drop Torres for him.  I thnk the fact Rafa was prepared to let keane go and just have Ngog as back shows how much he rates him.

    Hobbs was a shocking when he eplayed and is now playing in the chamionship.

    Paletta was used in a swap for Insua because he was home sick but has since been doing well for Boca Juniors.

    El Zhar got plenty of games last season but its not going to start ahead of Kuyt.

    Plessis played in big games two years ago but he went of the rails early last season and wasn't even being played in the reserves.

  14. This is a rather lame excuse, don't you think?  Whether it was operated as a separate entitiy or not has no bearing on Benitez bringing players into the first team squad and giving them opportunties.

  15. Furthermore, the bottom line is that no young player has progressed through the reserves to become a first team regularl under Benitez. I find that quite worrying.  And Insue is not a first team regular - his appearance stats prove that.

  16. The point as I see it and I dont care whose to blame,but there has been not one player come through the ranks to hold down a regualer first team spot since steve G and he was signed by Roy Evens. Is it therefore a coaching problem or a scoating one.

  17. would you play el zhar ahead of Kuyt ?

  18. you cant blame benitez if none of them are good enough

  19. What rafa is doing is right in the sense that he doesn't throw them into the deep end unless he is sure. on the contrary houllier gave players consecutive starts and then dropped them altogether. that probably wasted vignal, biscan, FLO, and ALT

  20. Have to say, a pretty reasonable article, if slightly biased to prove your point. I think its now fair to say that insua is pretty much a first teamer and should get plenty of games this season showing that benitez does give youth a chance if theyre good enough.

    but i agree, i would like to see some of the other youngsters get a chance. pachecho deserves to be given a few runouts and id much rather see kelly or darby get a chance at second choice right back than degen.

    as for your point about which of the young purchases have been successful, you seem to forget that people like reina, agger, skrtel, mascherano were indeed young when they were first signed and they havent turned out too badly have they? lucas and babel cant yet be seen as complete successes but theres no doubt that they have the potential, i also think that ngog will prove to be a good squad player if he isnt already.

  21. Of course not.  I'm not suggesting that.  There are plenty of ways to give these players more pitch time without dropping established first teamers. 

    Having said that, I don't see the risk in the likes of El Zhar replacing Kuyt against relegation fodder.

  22. Is it not part of Benitez's job to ensure that the right people are in place to find good young talent and develop them properly? If the youth system is repeatedly failing to present Benitez with 'great' players, then surely he has to take some of the blame?

    Furthermore, is it not possible that if Benitez spends more time giving the younger players who *are* presented to him a more consistent chance in the team, they might rise to the challenge and show their worth.

    In any event, I disagree with the idea that the players are not good enough; and if they are, in fact, not good enough, then the Liverpool academy/scouting system is failing on a grand scale. and that needs to be addressed.

  23. Is Insua really a first team though?  In a season fo 50-60+ games, 11 starts seems rather light for a first teamer.

    I agrew with you re Pacheco - hopefully he will be given more chances.  Same ffoes for Darby and Kelly.

    Re Reina, Agger, Skrtel, Masch - yes, they were young (ish - early 20s) but they are different in that they were bought specifically for the first team and had comparatively vastr experience.  What I'm trying to get across is the lack of players progressing through the youth ranks into the first team.

  24. Fran - to what 'la ck of research' do you refer?  To suggest that Benitez has no control over the academy is simply incorrect; this would be an untenable situation for a manager.  benitez may not *run* the academy but he certaily has an influence.  in any event, whatever the status of the academy, benitez is not barred from promoting players and/or giving them a consistent chance, is he?

    Out of interest, what is your evidence for the contention that Benitez has no control over the academy?

  25. Mr Kanwar's proposed team selection policy on league cup games is a bit shocking. Every position should go to the reserve/academy players? First of all, they wouldn't have any senior player on the pitch they could learn something from. AND they would probably crash out the competition after the first a couple of rounds.

  26. One question:

    How many of the players over the last five years have gone on to light up their respective league and prove themselves as a title winning contender?

    ......... errrm.........

    Ah yes - NONE

    This is why Rafa has removed staff from the academy, its not Rafa's fault that the players arent good enough, what is he going to do? play only players under the age of 23 and come 15th? would you be happy then?

  27. Mr. Kanwar. I think your article is very negative and repetive. Frankly, we haven't had the talent or the right coaching in the reserve the reserve team for years. When Fowler, Owen, Gerrard and partly Carragher broke trough we were all excited about their promise. Not a lot of our current young lads excite me much, except perhaps Insua and Pacheco. Also, the quality of the Liverpool 1st team is much higher than it has been over the last 20 years. Hence, it becomes increasingly difficult to break into the 1st team. 
    Benitez recognizes this and have therefor asked for changes in the management and coaching staff of the Academy. Let's see Insua make it this year and if we can have one player every other year establishing himself in the 1st 11, it is as much as we can hope for!


  28. I have never once criticised Benitez for playing young players

    That is not strictly true because you criticised him for playing ngog instead of keane in a previous comment thread

  29. I dont know why you keep recycling your articles.
    You already published this one ages ago and got exactly the same response in the comments as you are getting now.

    If you look at manu last season the only time any of the youngsters got to play was because of injury or absolute last resort nescesity.

    They lost nevelle and brown at right back which meant one of the twins got to play when oshea wasnt there. Evra was fit for most of the season so the other twin didnt get a look in.

    Evans had to fill in when vidic was banned or rio was injured , he never played when they were both fit ( he may have played in the little cups).

    macheda only got his chance when all the other forwards were injured or banned right at the end of the season and certainly didnt get a run of games like you suggest the lfc young players should.

    The others only played in the cups.

    rafa got slaughted the other year when he played what was considered as an understrength side and we got knocked out of a cup early . He cant win really with his team selection.

    With having experienced players and cover in nearly every position is it any wonder that the younger players struggle to get a look in?
    whenever he rests players in the league games and we lose he gets slaughted again. Every league game has to be won, we thoght we would beat the likes of stoke etc last year and look what happened. No team can be considered relegation fodder and easy pickings as there is no such thing in the prem.

    You have asked for rafa to consistantly play his best side at all times in the past. This doesnt fit with giving younger players a run of games ahead of more experienced players. If the experienced players are fit they should play.

    Wenger is the only top 4 team that relies on youth and look what has happened to them.

  30. LOL, so you reckon we should name 11 of our reserve/youth team players in the squad of players for the CL? You can only name 23 (can be corrected there but it's close to that) players in your CL squad. If you remember last season we even had to drop Hyypia from the squad because of the quota requirements.

    So, if we are going to name enough youth and reservists to make a whole team for a 'meaningless match' in the CL, which players do you suggest we drop from the main players who would then not be able to be part of the CL for the entire group stage at least?

    With regards your ridiculously biased statistics, why quote numbers for three seasons when talking about youngsters who are only just becoming ready for the EPL? Insua has played 18 in three seasons but how many of those were in the last season, keeping in mind he was injured for some of it as well.

    You might as well say Torres is a wasted buy: he has only played about 70-odd games for Liverpool in the last 20 seasons - never mind the fact that most of those years were spent going to school and then playing in Spain!

    Just a reminder: when Stevie G first broke through, he spent an awful lot of time injured or unable to play due to his growing pains. He had back problems, hip problems, all sorts. In his first season, he probably played about as many games as Insua did last season!

    Rafa has shown willingness to use Nabil El Zhar, Emiliano Insua, David Ngog (was only 19 when we bought him), plus the likes of Plessis, Darby and Spearing, How many youngsters have you seen coming through from the youth team at other top sides? About the same or less I would estimate.

    So let me ask you a simple question: when we take the field on Sunday for our opener against Spurs, do you want Rafa to pick the strongest players available to give us a chance of the first 3 points or would you rather we take a punt on a few of the younger ones even if that leaves us on 'null point' come Monday?

    I know what I want him to do.... win!

  31. I'm a big fan of giving the younger lads a go.That doesn't necassarily mean starting with eleven young men. I'm sure there are cup games, league games and even European games where lads could definitley be given a go. The only way these lads are going to get the experience is by being given a chance, and if mistakes are made, still keeping faith in them, not dropping them straight away which i believe contributes to lack of confidence in their abilities. As fans it really is up to us how much support we show the kids, stick by them through these growing stages, and understanding that their is alot of pressure on them.Just think, knowing that you are playing for a team with the richest history in European and domestic football with millions of suppporters worldwide. I'm sure that is more daunting of a task than some of us realise.

  32. Over the top again.
    Clearly there must have been something holding Benitez back otherwise he wouldn't have fought for full control of the academy so ferociously.

    Babel, Lucas and Ngog are young players coming through that are being given a chance. All players are younger than El Zhar (who you class as a youngster). However whenever these plays are 'given their chance' people like you slate them. You are probably one of the fans that booed Lucas last year. Did that help a young persons confidence? I doubt it.

    Last season when we had no cover upfront except for Ngog people whinged that we needed more options. Voronin comes back (something I'm not happy about) and you say that it is players like him that are hampering the youth development. Make your mind up. Either way you will not be happy with Benitez's decisions.

    So we have 3 youngsters getting regular games plus Insua that has now become our first choice left back, at least until Aurelio gets back (that is ANOTHER extended chance for him).

    How many young players have Chelsea brought through recently?
    Until last season when Gibson, wellbeck, macheda and evans came through, how many had Man U brought through? Possibly Rafael (same bracket and chances as Insua), before that there is O'shea, who is nothing more than a fringe player (poor player), fletcher, would you want him in your team, no thanks. (better than gerrard, masch, alonso, aquilani, lucas?).
    So summing up Man U have now got a raft coming through (how many chances they get this season who knows). They have 4-6 coming through, who is to say that we won't have that come the end of this season with Plessis, Insua, Nemeth, Pachecho, Kelly, Spearing, Darby all pushing???

  33. good article. to be honest, lets learn from manchester united and arsenal (though they have not won anything). manutd have won so many trophys with kids(beckham, scholes, giggs, neiville, brown, silver twins, oshea) have all won trophys than what liverpool have bought. so lets bring in youth and we can do the same thing. LEARN FROM MANCHESTER UNITED, LIVERPOOL/////

  34. What a ridiculous article.  Where the are likes of Mellor, Le Tallec, Whitbread, Welsh and all teh other youngsters you would like to see in the first team of Liverpool, currently playing?

    I could understand if a youth player had been let go and made it to the top, but have any?

    This whole 'Rafa doesn't play kids' is bull. if it was true would El Zhar, Mellor, Pongo, Spearing even have played at all??

  35. Ha ha, insua was 20 in january this year, meaning 3 years ago he was 17 and competing with an in form JAR at the time - oh wait he wasnt here 3 years ago he joined in january 2007. Most of those starts came last season, where he looks to established himself as possibly first choice for the upcoming or following season (which will make him an ancient 21 going on 22 years old). You mention darby and spearing again both turn the almighty age of 21 this season. Martin kelly is not even 20 yet. How many serious opportunities do you expect them to get before it becomes detrimental to our title or CL ambitions? Its about blooding them at the right time. I agree it would be great to see the youth system working, but on the back of our best ever league finish under benitez surely he doing something right?

    Oh, and out of every single player he has let go both young and old, hardly any - if any - have gone on to bigger and better things.

  36. I think the reason for Nemeth not being ahead of Ngog is cos he spent the most of last season injured. He went on loan and only managed one game. Pacheco is 18, and simply his time will come. Rafa has said on previous occassions that he doesn't like playing young players too much cos their bodies aren't fully developed hence they're more prone to injury and it will have an impact on the length of their career. I'm not saying I agree but that is the jist of what he has said in the past.

    Lucas isn't that bad. He screws up a few times simply because he is young and inexperienced (Carragher screwed up so many times, I especially remember a league cup semi against Middlesborough). The main thing is he has some ability and he tries hard and has shown signs of improvement, unlike Babel.

    Insua is more or less 1st choice left back now. Aurelio spends a lot of time injured, most of them caused when no 1 is around him, hence you can't expect more than 25 games off him a season. Alonso was 22 when Rafa signed him, isn't that young or is young considered strictly under 21?

  37. When a special young player comes along he'll set the world on fire. Watch out for Pacheco.

  38. Rather than questioning why Rafa hasn't "blooded" any youth or academy team players into the first team, you should ask yourself how many of those players that didn't make the breakthrough have progressed enough to become Premiership players with their respective clubs. I think its simple, if they were good enough they would have been given a fair chance, unless, of course, you can point out a player that has left Liverpool and become a success.

  39. If no young players make it an Liverpool or anywhere else then our scouting/development system is seriously failing.  Either way, improvements need to be made.

  40. You're missing the point: in 10 the last 10 years, no young player has progressed through the ranks to become a first team regular.  This is the issue. It is a major problem, is it not?

  41. Who cares what other teams are doing?  This is about Liverpool, not Chelsea/Man U. 

    Given the last 10 years of youth failure, the likelihood of any of the youngsters you mentioned establishing themselves in the first team seems pretty slim.

  42. Good points, TMAC.  I agree with you - there are plenty of opportunities throughout the season for Rafa to give young players more of a chance.  He just hasn't taken these opportunities consistently.

  43. Red Barron - where did I say that we should name 11 reserve team players in the CL squad? I said that about the League cup; clearly, in the CL, you can use whatever young players made the cut for the CL squad.

    Your point about Torres is silly, but I'm sure you know that.

    And re Spurs on Saturday - of course you play your strongest side.  Where have I suggested otherwise.  However, If we're winning 3-1 with 30 minutes to go, bring on El Zhar, Insua or Pacheco, and give them a proper run out, not just a pointless 5 minutes near the end of the game.

  44. It is perfectly possible to consistently play your best team and blend in the youth.  As I said, if we're winning comfortably/cruising, replace one of the full backs with Darby/Insua.  If it's the League cup, give young players a chance to win the trophy for the club.  And if a young player really plays well, perhaps reward them with a start in the next game (depending on the game of course). 

    What is the point of having a youth system if none of the players ever progress and become first team regulars?  We might as well just scrap the youth system and buy players who are ready to go straight into the first team (masch/Lucas/Agger et al).

    And again, the main point here is the fact that no young player has prpgressed through the reserve team to become a first team regular in the last 10 years.

  45. This idea that Rafa is somehow  blameless for the failure of the youth system is just ridiculous.  Are you suggesting that he has no input at all into scouting and youth development?!

    I guess the academy is a completely separate entity to Liverpool FC - Rafa knows nothing of its existence; he never watches reserve games; never chats with scouts or reserve team coaches; never makes suggestions; never creates policy.  No, he just concentrates on the first team and that's it.

  46. Hard to blame Benithez for all the problems but if theres 1 thing in the artical which is true, its the size of squad is too large, and not because of unfair competition but there's no competition, there's just not enough games for that many players.

    How would anyone expect the youth to be given a chance (by chance I mean a Lucas type chance, ie plays poorly but still gets starts for a few seasons) if the squad fillers are still being brought into the club, surely the only way to improve a player is by blooding them at the highest levels.

    Jay Spearing is like a breathe of fresh air in the reserves, he consistantly out performs the team, through pre season he was played as a central midfielder, left back right back and right winger (is that versatile enough for our manager?), does anyone think Spearing will get games over a £5m+ signing this season?

    The answer is no, it's just not in the mangers interest to develop a player who costs nothing over a player he paid £5m for, and if you or Spearing don't like it tough, move on.

  47. Surely you can appreciate the difference in that situation?  Keane was being treated shabbily by Benitez.  And after paying 20m for the player, he should have been played, not dumped on the bench as part of an ongoing power struggle.

  48. I would argue that Insua did establish himself as a regular last season before international commitments and injury interupted things.

    I'd also have to disagree with the Carling Cup and nothing to play for Champions League games. You need experienced players in there with them to guide them and help them develop. Just playing kids is virtually no different to the kids just playing a reserve team fixture together (apart from maybe slightly better opposition). Alot of their learning comes from playing alongside better players and learning from them.

    Liverpool do need to bring more youth through, and I think with Rafa now in full control of the youth set up and the changes made we might start to see some youth come through.

    Finally though, I'd have to say, I saw Adam Hammill in pre season against Tranmere and he looked very exciting but very raw. There seemed alot of potential there. Dissappointed he wasn't given a chance with the first team. He'd have been an ideal candidate for bringing on late in a game when defences are tired to get some experience and light up a game. I'll certainly watch his career with Barnsley with great interest

  49. You're right - I probably did go a little too far in suggesting the entire team be filled with young players for Carling cup games.  One or two experienced players would be beneficial, but 7 0r young players could be used though.  Arsenal have done that in the past and achieved some good results.

    Also agree with you about Adam Hamill - he looked like he had potential and could have been useful if he was developed more.  Too late now though.

  50. I have said that I dont think keane was treated particularly badly. He wasnt a 20mill player - that is what the club, not rafa, paid for him. Rafa saw him as a squad player so leaving him out to play ngog was, in his mind, no big deal.
    Anyway someone has to sit out to let the youth play, why not keane?

  51. you have to take into consideration what the other tops sides are doing.

    If they are using experienced players instead of youth so must we to compete.

    You can only really look at the last 5 years to see if any of the players listed are likely to break through this year. You can not judge by the previous 5 years as it is a completely different set up and set of players.

  52. spearing made the cut and got to play in at least a couple of games when the game was sewn up, exactly the conditions you say the youth should be used in. This kind of situation doesnt come round all that often ( in the league or cups), with most games being in the balance until the final whistle. ( as I type this chelsea have just been pushed all the way by Hull at home)

    Insua, El Zhar and ngog ,I am sure, would also have featured in at least a couple of champs league games.

    So rafa is slowly bedding in some youth (in bigger games even) as you want him to.

    Re. playing at least 7 youth players in the league or fa cups - what happens if he does and we get knocked out in the 1st round?

    The press would have a field day, rafa would be ridiculed and the kids that did play would have to suffer all the negative press and feel responsible for losing the game.

    What would that do to thier confidence?

    After being knocked out there would be no more little cup games to play making it even harder for any of them to get experience.

    Surely its better to just use 2,3, 4 at most to stand a better chance of progressing where they could get more chances?

    Any team would rub their hands at playing any team filled with kids. Their sheer physicality over the kids would give them a massive lift.

    Its way too early this year to be judging on this anyway. Who knows what will happen for sure. Injuries may force his hand like manu last year, nemeth and darby may stay fit and be able to play unlike a lot of last year. All the other players are a year older and maybe rafa will think they are ready. We just dont know for sure.

    After seeing some of them get good run out pre season it certainly looks like a few are good enough to get a few more games.

    However, are they better than the experienced players already in their positions? That is the only question that needs answering. If they are not as good , yet, then they cant expect to get a regular spot.

    This is no slight on their ability or the general quality coming through.

    You can not really say that just because the youth set up hasnt produced players that are better than torres, gerrard, and all the others then it is a failure. Thats just silly.

  53. Gee, such insight. I want to be *just like you*. I figure all I need is a lobotomy and some tights.
    Sent using BlackBerry� from Orange

  54. I do agree when your 3-1 up bring the kids on like Rafa did against Real with Spearing. Hopefully we can kill off more games and give the lads as you say in other replies 15 mins. 

    I do think the acadamy is vastly improving slowly, prior ro Rafa it was nearly ten years without winning the league. And only really Mellor and Warnock have come through of notable interest. Now there is a fair few who seem to have genuine promise wining the league and FA cup of late.

    Insua is a real success for me, would have played more had he not been called to captain Argy in the youth world cup thing. Spearing and Darby - local lads - always good. nemeth could be the next Owen for us - Pacheco is more Messi like in his attacking skilful versatility. Ngog, plessis, El Zhar, Kelly, San Jose are all very close imo.

    Future prospects - Bruna, Mendy, Weijl, Flora, Mavinga, Dalla Valla, Kacanklic all look decent.

    It is hard for Rafa as he has the Southern press waiting to jump - play kids and win, hes arrogant, play them and lose - he doesnt understand the game.

    He'll continue to get it right and improve us. I think Rafas well documented past and success with youth will come through. given our current owners, we may become dependant on youth. If we keep selling our best and buuying bargain players....

  55. San Jose close?

    to which team?

    another one loaned out with an option to buy

  56. have you seen what Arsenal are doing with their kids?

    currently Everton 0- 4 Arsenal

  57. Yes, they're going to be the first team ever to win the league on the first day of the season.

    Seriously, the only thing that game tells you is the bookies will be slashing the odds on Everton getting relegated!

  58. If we had been bringing players through the youth ranks as half as effectively as Arsenal, we would be League champions.

  59. I want to like this comment but I can't.

    We have won the league more times than Arsenal, also, they've never won the European Cup. They've won the league more recently than us but should we start to imitate clubs who are less successful overall?

    "The grass is always greener...", perhaps?

  60. deninis you said in one of youre other comments that you aqre a portsmouth fan.

    What lfc does is none of your buisiness. Worry about your own club.

    All the players you listed came through years ago for manu, apart from the twins and only one of them has seen much playing time.

  61. ha jamie, totally agree that more young talent must be brought through. looking preseason nemeth, pacheco, darby, ayala and kelly are all players who need to be given a chance. also know that these are only the names we have heard regularly about and there are others who deserve a chance. like you i have been disappointed by the lack of young players coming through during benitez's reign, espically as he has bought so many and spent a lot of money trying to improve these stats. but he can spent all the money in the world but unless he gives these players more match-time they have no chance of breaking into the first team. Wenger has proven that youth can be brought in and succeed so we need to do the same. give these youngsters a chance as you said in league cup and in matches where we have a good lead so that they gain first team experience, use youth like nemeth and darby as backups instead of vorinin or darby  

  62. hey guys plz.i am fun of aek fc.please tell us a little about nemeth.is he a good player?is he going to show his quality in athens?