LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 5, 2019: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with Harvey Elliott after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp praised for “biggest change” in Liverpool’s young players this season

Neil Critchley has outlined the “biggest change” he has witnessed in Liverpool’s young players, crediting Jurgen Klopp for keeping them involved.

The Reds are on a phenomenal run in the Premier League, with a 22-point lead at the top the most any side has ever held in the history of the English top flight.

Despite the pressure on Klopp to deliver a title after a 30-year wait, the manager has kept faith in those from the academy, with Neco Williams and Curtis Jones on the bench regularly in recent months.

They have been joined by the likes of Ki-Jana Hoever, Yasser Larouci, Leighton Clarkson and Harvey Elliott at Melwood, and most will be involved as Critchley takes charge for the FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury on Tuesday night.

Without any first-team players, the young Reds are not considered favourites to prevail against League One opposition, but their stand-in manager believes their experiences with the senior squad will be a huge benefit.

“I think the strength of the first team, what you see all the time—and I don’t think it gets spoken about enough—is sometimes hard to put your finger on, but when you’re around you see the culture that they create,” he said.

“That’s through the people that they are, and for our players to be in and around that on a regular basis, it can’t help but rub off on them.

“I think that’s been one of the biggest changes I’ve felt in our younger players when they’ve had an opportunity to be in and around the senior players on a more regular basis.

“A lot of them have had that this season, which when you talk about the season that Liverpool are having—which is quite staggering—for our manager to still support our younger players and to give them opportunity is quite remarkable really.

“I think there’s been a real connection between the younger players and the first-team players, and long may that continue.”

Critchley led the club’s youngest-ever starting lineup into a 5-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the League Cup quarter-finals in December, with the first team absent due to the Club World Cup.

Liverpool certainly performed better than the scoreline suggests, and though Critchley will demand a better outcome this time around, he believes that either way this will be an invaluable night for his teenagers.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 17, 2019: Liverpool’s manager Neil Critchley gives instructions to players during a break in play during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final between Aston Villa FC and Liverpool FC at Villa Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

“You can’t buy experiences like that. It’s probably worth a million of my coaching sessions to be honest with you,” he continued.

“Taking the boys outside of their comfort zone and putting them into a game like that, you learn so much about them, but more importantly they’ll learn more about themselves.

“I was pleased with a lot of aspects about that performance, but I also couldn’t help to be a little bit disappointed as well, with the result.

“I thought that was a little bit harsh on us, but we also have to take lessons from that.

“OK, we got some plaudits for the way we played, but we didn’t do well enough in both penalty boxes, and if you’re going to go into a results-driven business, you’ve got to win games of football.

“We didn’t keep the ball out at one end and we didn’t score at the other end.

“So that’s not a recipe for getting success. Our aim is to try to do a lot better than that tomorrow night.”