SALFORD, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 30, 2022: Liverpool's Under-18's coach Jay Spearing pictured before the English Football League Trophy Northern Group D match between Salford City FC and Liverpool FC Under-21's at Moor Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool coach aiming to follow Steven Gerrard and Steve Cooper in new role

Three months into his new coaching role in the Liverpool academy, Jay Spearing is looking to “follow in the footsteps” of Steven Gerrard and Steve Cooper.

Spearing was confirmed to have rejoined his boyhood club in July, taking up duties as a player-coach in the youth ranks similar to Tom Huddlestone at Man United.

The 33-year-old, who most recently played for Tranmere in League Two, featured for the under-21s throughout pre-season but is yet to be required in a competitive game, instead working with the under-18s.

That is where the majority of his work will be done, training alongside the youngsters at Kirkby to help them in their development and, in turn, hone his skills as a coach.

Liverpool’s academy has proved a successful breeding ground for managers in recent years, with Gerrard, Cooper, Michael Beale and Neil Critchley among those to graduate into high-profile roles.

Gerrard and Cooper are currently managing in the Premier League, while Critchley left Blackpool in the summer to serve as assistant to Gerrard at Aston Villa, and Spearing is taking inspiration from their pathway.

“If I take a path similar to [Gerrard], I would be very fortunate,” he told the Liverpool Echo.

“I will strive and work hard to go and get that.

“Right now, all I can do is concentrate on the journey and the opportunity I have been given. I will learn and see what comes.

“There is a lot of hard work ahead but the end goal is to get myself out there in the big wide world of the professional game.”

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 6, 2018: Liverpool's Under-18 manager Steven Gerrard gies a half-time team-talk during an Under-18 FA Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Brockhall Village Training Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Gerrard began his coaching career with the Liverpool U18s, also taking charge of the under-19s in the UEFA Youth League before departing for Rangers in 2018, eventually leading him to Villa.

While there is certainly a sense that Gerrard’s profile helped him on his way, there can be more encouragement for Spearing in the likes of Cooper, Critchley and Beale, who have worked their way up gradually.

“The academy is a great place to learn but also make mistakes behind the scenes, without the cameras and pundits, where I won’t be crucified or sacked after five games,” he continued.

“I hope to follow in the footsteps of the staff who have come before because you’ve got the likes of Steve Cooper at Nottingham Forest and Neil Critchley at Aston Villa, who have come through and gone on to make a name for themselves.”

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 3, 2022: Liverpool's U18's coach Jay Spearing during the Under-18 Premier League Cup match between Liverpool FC Under-18's and Tottenham Hotspur FC Under-18's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

For now, though, Spearing’s focus is on Liverpool, and the young players who have ambitions of following his own path into the first team, having debuted for the senior side as a 20-year-old in 2008.

“The academy is a crucial place for the players to learn their trade and they will gain experiences to take into their own game,” the midfielder explained.

“If I can help in any way, having been out there in the professional game, I will make sure to do that.

“My goal is for them to challenge our first-team players or, if not, still go to make a nice career for themselves.

“I’m in a very fortunate position and it’s an important one as I want these lads to live their dreams.”