Liverpool have a huge number of backroom staff, coaches and personnel who allow the team and club to function perfectly, with one Academy coach having a particularly interesting story.
Tim Jenkins works under Neil Critchley as a coach for the U23s at Kirkby, but he’s also much more than just an understudy.
Based full-time at the Academy, his role also incorporates being the head of analysis for the youth team—an area in which he has among the most experience anywhere in football, at least in the modern interpretation of the process.
Jenkins was one of the original handful of people working on the ProZone football analysis system, as he told the club website, back in the early 2000s.
Before that there was no computer software which would aid coaches and managers in the progression of their teams and players—which is certainly not the case now.
ProZone became an industry leader early on and Jenkins mentions several now-Liverpool-based personnel who were involved at the time, including scouting director Dave Fallows, loan manager Julian Ward and, tellingly, sporting director Michael Edwards.
It’s another indication of how many forward-thinking coaches and personalities are employed by the Anfield club—though as noted recently, we’ve gone well beyond those original attempts at video analysis and pass trackers to high-end mathematics, statistical models and millions of data points per game.
Jenkins explains how he went from that role to coaching, earning his UEFA A Licence along the way, before being appointed U23 analyst with the Reds back in 2012.
Now his role involves individual coaching of those in Critchley’s team and, as well as giving an oversight of his match-day role, he has spoken highly of several individuals who have made an impression on the first-team this season.
“On a matchday I will normally go and watch the game from somewhere higher than the dugout, at the back of the stand or a gantry maybe, and I’ll try to get a tactical overview of the game then share it with Neil during the game via radio.
“The main remit of the job, though, is development; we have individual development plans for every player and it’s my job – along with Neil and the other coaches – to create a plan for each one and base that around the video work and some statistics just to try to highlight particular areas.”
Unsurprisingly, Curtis Jones is one of those to have made a big impression.
The young Scouser scored his first senior goal against Everton, but has been doing the same thing regularly for the U23s as captain this term.
It’s also his mentality, not just his technical quality, which sees him stand out.
Curtis has been outstanding for us this season in the U23s league, he’s a real talent.
The way he has applied himself this season in particular, he had some difficult moments for the U23s last year, but this year his mentality has been excellent as captain of the team, and again, from his point of view it’s pleasing to see that’s been recognised at Melwood.
Harvey Elliott received praise for having “blown away” the coaching staff with his work ethic, while Neco Williams’ ability to recover from setbacks is noted as a key factor in his progression during 2019/20.
There’s also an explanation of the importance of Vitor Matos, ensuring the integration between those coming through and those in the first team, which of course should benefit with the impending switch of the first-team squad to Kirkby in the summer.
Jenkins is another part of a well-oiled machine which is functioning well in every area at present, and with the Kirkby expansion still on track, things should only get better for everyone in connection with the Academy.