13 May 2016

'Goodbye': Liverpool defender confirms he's leaving Anfield; admits it's 'time to move on'

With Jordan Rossiter on the verge of signing for Rangers, Joao Teixeira on his way out this summer, and Jerome Sinclair seemingly desperate to quit, it's all change at Liverpool's academy, and Daniel Cleary is the latest young player to end up on the Anfield scrapheap.

Last night, 20-year old Cleary posted the following farewell message on his Twitter account:

"It's been a tough day saying goodbye to everybody in the club. Like to say thanks to everyone at Liverpool FC for everything! Time to move on for me".

In the last 20 years, Jamie Carragher is the only young player to make it through the academy to become a regular first team centre-half, and Cleary's failure to break through is arguably further evidence that the Academy is not fit for purpose.

In the Premier League era, Liverpool's (unofficial) policy is to ignore Academy talent and buy first-team centre-halves (Wright, Dicks, Ruddock, Kvarme, Agger, Skrtel, Hyypia, Skrtel, Henchoz, Lovren, Sakho, Toure, Kyrgiakos etc), and Cleary is the latest victim of this approach.

The academy is graveyard for young defenders (just as it is for attackers, especially non-Brits), yet fans will inevitably advance the same tired excuses, the most prevalent of which is this old chestnut:

"The fact that very few Academy players go on to make it big at other clubs shows they were never good enough in the first place".

If Liverpool's Academy players are consistently not good enough to make it, then that clearly means that:

* The scouting team has spectacularly failed to identify quality young players. OR

* The coaching staff has spectacularly failed to youngsters to the required level.

One or both of these statements must be true - what other explanation is there for a 20-year failure to uncover more than *one* young centre-back capable of becoming a first-team regular?

In my view, the Academy is a total waste of time and money, and requires a drastic revamp:

* Scrap all youth teams (U15s, 16s etc). What is the point of having an U12 team? Liverpool even have U6s and U9s, and if you consider the time/expense required to maintaining all these teams, it's all adds up to a huge waste of money.

* Retain the U21s as a feeder squad for the first team. Sign only the very best players available aged 19/20 (or in rare cases, utterly exceptional talents aged 18).

* Reduce the size of the U21s to 16-18 players, and focus all the Academy's time and energy on coaching these players to elite levels. Quality, not quantity.

Author: Jaimie K


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