LFC Debate: How important is a local heart?

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“My big thing is getting young players in here from the local area,” said Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers this week.

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While Liverpool have blooded many youngsters this season and have a very promising youth set-up featuring some exciting talents – not many are necessarily local. Jon Flanagan, Connor Coady and forward Adam Morgan are from the city of Liverpool itself. While Martin Kelly is from Whiston, the same birth place of Steven Gerrard.

There are others from around the country (Andre Wisdom – Leeds, Raheem Sterling – London) and then numerous from around Europe (Suso – Spain, Yesil – Germany etc).

We discussed the importance of having local players in the squad in our forums. Here’s a selection of the best responses…

Nikola13: As a “foreigner”, I’m glad to see that players from all around the world are getting the chance at Liverpool and that there are some like Hyypia, Hamann, Agger and Lucas who live and breathe Liverpool. However, it was local lads that got me into Liverpool and I think it is essential to keep the Scouse heartbeat of a Scouse club, as simple as that.

Robinson, Lussey, Dunn and Rossiter seem to be the highest rated Scousers at the club and potential first eleven players, while Flanagan and Morgan could develop to be solid squad players but they are all some way off being able to feature for first team and I can understand Rodgers’ frustrations.

There is a great saying here in Montenegro that goes something like “people will receive you the way your home sends you off”. It would be nice to get our “home” in order and get the very best Scousers before venturing to the world in search of talented players.

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Key men: Academy technical director Rodolfo Borrell and academy director Frank McParland.
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chewbazza: Heart and passion will only get you so far on the football field, if you don’t have the ability it doesn’t matter if you are Dalglish’s son and you were conceived and born in the boot room.

I consider the likes of Rafa and Pepe, Kuyt in the same vein as Carra and Gerrard. I think in an ideal world we’d love to see a couple of scousers make the grade every few years and have their presence in the squad, and I’m glad that Rodgers is looking locally, and if the quality can be found then that’s great, but to put it bluntly a shit scouser should not take a place in the squad over a quality player from elsewhere.

rupzzz: The main thing is that whoever plays for the club needs to play with a sense of pride and passion for the club. People that immerse themselves into the club and what it means give as much pride. Some names I can rattle off of people that have a special place in their heart for the club and are adored by the fans are The King, Rafa Benitez, Alonso, Garcia, Reina, Lucas, Ian Rush, and Hamann. They all still talk about Liverpool from their heart and I think that is just as nice as seeing locals. It can also be broken very quickly though – Torres and Owen for example – talked the club up a lot etc then…

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Adopted Scousers Pepe and Didi.
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ptt: My first “happiest memory” of watching Liverpool was the ’86 cup final. Our only English player that day was the sub (Steve McMahon). That team was one of our very best, doing the double that year.

[sws_pullquote_right]”We mustn’t forget what is on our doorstep and, for me, this is a hot-bed for footballers who have passion, hunger and incredible qualities. Bringing that through is a massive part of my job and is something we are trying to put in place.”
— Rodgers[/sws_pullquote_right]Zinedine Biscan: I think for me personally it’s about getting the best-quality prospects into the club. If they come from our own doorstep, that’s ideal – I think you get a level of loyalty from locals that you don’t necessarily get from players sourced from overseas or even elsewhere in the UK (it does happen, Hamann, Sami etc, but it’s always a bonus when it does).

But I would hate to miss out on the Susos or Sterlings because we were so closely focused on just our surrounding areas.

Hope in your Heart: It’s good to know that the club will not overlook local youngsters. On the other hand, I can distinctly remember Pep Segura saying exactly the same a year or two ago, when he explained how the club was looking for prospects to bring in. He emphasised the importance of nurturing local and English talents, and to educate them according to their own mental and physical qualities. He said the goal wasn’t to make a blueprint of the Barca academy, but develop it’s own style, best tuned-up with the realities of English football.

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Here is an interesting article from 2011 on how Pep set up the Academy, and which criteria were used when looking for new players:

We analyze four factors:

– Technical: We appreciate the passing game (passing game)
– Tactical: Your ability to play without the ball
– Psychological: Your willingness to be professional
– Physical: We value speed, strength and size (English football)

Teams from different categories are structured in the form of a double pyramid

– Between 8 and 11: 3 teams per category
– Between 12 and 14 years: 2 teams per category
– After 15 years: 1 team per category

In the two years since Pep Segura as technical director, the Academy has doubled the number of players at his disposal. In the selection process, all are subject to a battery of physical and technical tests. These tests are also done to those at the Academy itself at sever instances each year to establish internal and external comparisons.

Liverpool FC have identified three types of targets in the catchment:

– Focus A: 14. Local Players
– Focus B: 16. The 2 best in England plus 2 best foreign
– Focus C: 18. Best English and / or foreign to compensate for the shortcomings identified in the Academy

Looking at this, Rodgers’ remark is maybe about improving scouting of local players beyond the age group of 14-16. Otherwise, I can’t really understand what he’s talking about, as all of this is already implemented since Rafa’s days it seems.


What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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