The future’s bright: Why the youth at Liverpool is key to their success

by Steve Sharman

Despite only managing a draw against Manchester City on Sunday, Liverpool fans can still take a lot away from the game. Losing 3-0 away on the opening day of the season, things hadn’t gone to plan for Brendan Rodgers and as per, immediate pressure was heaped upon him. Rogers appointment brought a young fresh approach to the club, which was immediately shown in his line up yesterdays afternoon.

With the average age of the team under 25, it was the youngest team the club had fielded since 2003. In his line up, saw the selection of 17 year old Raheem Sterling. Despite being so young, the winger had a fine game and justified for his selection. Sterling had figured last week in the club’s Europa League game at Hearts where again, he showed his excellent talent. Sterling’s selection meant that fellow wide man and England international Stewart Downing was left sat on the bench. The former Middlesbrough man was at the heart of much criticism last season having failed to register a single goal or assist for Liverpool in the Premier League. Having witnessed Sterling’s admirable display yesterday, Downing will have to expect to be sitting on the bench more regularly, especially with the way Rodgers now has them playing.

Alongside Downing was Jordan Henderson, who also had to settle for a seat on the bench. Much like Downing, Henderson also received a lot of criticism last season having cost the Merseyside club £16million. Henderson was a key figure in his former club Sunderland’s side, but the step up to Liverpool was a difficult one and was not helped with such a big fee paid for him. Performances last year under Dalglish were below par and a call up to the England squad for the Euros last summer sparked much controversy. In his place though yesterday was Joe Allen. Having only played one season for Swansea in the top division, Allen was brought in by Rodgers. At £15million, you may say that Liverpool have once again paid over the odds for a young midfield player. However in his first two games Allen has shown why he will be a valuable asset to them this year. In yesterdays game against Manchester City, Allen completed 93.5 per cent of his passes. At just 22, Allen could well be one of the signings of the season, especially if he has a similar season to the one he had with Swansea. But just like Downing, if Allen continues the way he’s started, Jordan Henderson will be twiddling his thumbs on the Liverpool bench.

At the back, Sebastian Coates, the Uruguayan centre back, was used to partner Martin Skrtel ahead of club legend Jamie Carragher. Coates was brought in by Dalglish last season, and only featured ten times last season at the back. With Daniel Agger out through suspension, Coates was given his first start of the season yesterday and would have been happy with his performance against Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli. The 21 year old may be used more as a back up this year but certainly has a long future at Anfield under Brendan Rodgers.

The three above weren’t the only youngsters to feature in yesterday’s game. Apart from Steven Gerrard, the remaining members of the team were all aged under 30. Rodgers is keen to take on the youngsters at the club and give them a chance. Jonjo Shelvey was brought on the injured Lucas yesterday, ahead of Jordan Henderson, and Charlie Adam, who didn’t even make the bench. Shelvey is only 20, but his weekend display showed maturity and a willing to do well in the team. Martin Kelly has become a regular feature into the team and his call up to the England squad in the summer showed the progress the young right back has made whilst at Liverpool. Nuri Sahin has recently been brought in on loan from Real Madrid, and the 23 year old will add an exciting talent to the squad. Rodgers took a wealth of youngsters to the club’s pre season tour, with Adam Morgan, Suso Fernandez and Connor Coady making the trip and have all progressed through Melwood.

Liverpool fans can expect to see more of Sterling and co this year. Sunday’s performance will give fans some hope that the team can improve on last season’s poor efforts. Rodgers is keen to bring youth to the team and the draw with Citys shows there is a lot to be encouraged about.

1 Response

  1. Voland says:

    Henderson and Shelvey will play a key role for Liverpool alongside Joe Allen, Nuri Sahin and Steven Gerrard, especially following the latest unfortunate injury to Lucas.

    With Downing at left-back (I have a sneaking suspicion that Rodgers thinks Downing will make a better attacking left-back than Enrique), the square pegs in round holes would be Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam.

    It seems that Carroll is determined to stay – and I hope that he does and proves Rodgers wrong about his value to the team. Adam is perhaps more likely to go, as he is way behind the other midfielders in the pecking order and it is easier to recoup value in his case than that of Carroll.

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