Just because they play for Liverpool, doesn't necessarily mean they will make it as a professional.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has developed a reputation in recent years as a man who is prepared to encourage players who have been part of the youth structure at his clubs to get their shot at the first team. He has had his time working with younger players, notably at Chelsea – which was something he alluded to in his pre-match press conference before Liverpool’s trip to Newcastle.
Rodgers had the odd bit of criticism for playing some players for too long or being over-reliant on some of the youngsters that came into the first team: Jordon Ibe, Jerome Sinclair, Samed Yesil, Connor Coady, Adam Morgan, Jack Robinson, Andre Wisdom, Raheem Sterling have all been given a chance by Rodgers ever since his arrival at Anfield.
Given the lengthy list of players there – and there may be some missing from that list – such as John Flanagan who featured quite prominently under Kenny Dalglish. The thing that may surprise some fans who claim that Rodgers has overused youngsters were his comments in the press conference ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Newcastle.
According to ESPN, he said of young players in general: 'With all due respect some of the young players aren’t good enough. Everyone thinks that because you’re at a top club you’ve got some good young players then they can just literally walk into a League One team or a Championship team and think that they’re it. They’re not.
‘I supervised a group at Chelsea where we had some wonderful young players but it’s the harsh reality it’s not all the bright lights of the Premier League. It’s a tough world, some guys out there are experienced players, earning £4/500 a week and they’re not going to let some guy to come in and think he’s a superstar and take his place. That’s his life, that’s his living but they’ve got to earn the right to go out there and that’s always the way I’ve looked at it with young players.’
This was probably the side of Rodgers that the playing staff see more of – he wants to drive players on from a young age. He wants to get every last drop out of them and his way of motivating them is to remind them of the opportunity they have and take nothing for granted – no matter what level of professional football.
Sterling was the most prominent of the youngsters in the first team – playing on 36 occasions. Andre Wisdom has acted as cover, and Jordon Ibe is now involved around the first team. Both Coady and Robinson are out on loan whist Yesil, Sinclair and Morgan are still around the Under-21 and Under-18 set up.
That combined with what he had to say is a clear message for the youngsters at Liverpool. To succeed, they have to work as hard as they can because nothing will be given to them on a plate. If they do, they will surely get their chance.
image: © Bernard C