Alex Inglethorpe spoke to use exclusively covering all manner of Liverpool related topics.
In this, part three, he discusses the first team influence, injuries and his own future.
In the first and second of three parts, Liverpool Academy Director Alex Inglethorpe gave The Bib Theorist’s a deeper understanding of the development process for players, including training, loans, and focusing on their overall growth as people. In part three, he reflects on the legacy of Liverpool’s tradition of bringing academy players through to the first team, the keen challenges faced by foreign players, as well as reflection gone his own plans. Inglethorpe counts himself lucky to be in charge of one of England’s elite academies.
Liverpool has maintained a long line of local lads making their way through the academy to the first team. No less than the likes of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carrager some of the most recent players to hail from Merseyside and rise through the ranks. Aside from their stature as footballers, their impact continues to be immense.
“They set the standards so high everyday in training. There is not a time that I have seen them train, where they have not consistently been the best trainers. Every single day, they set the standard for the rest to follow. It’s great for the your team players to see that. It’s up to our young players who have witnessed that example to try emulate it. It’s not just about the quality, It’s also about the work ethic and the dedication to go to work everyday and see it as work and see it as a place to give everything.”
“For our young players to go to Melwood that’s something that’s been an inspiration for a long, long time. The challenge is to take that standard and do their very, very best to know what the league looks like on a daily basis and prepare yourself. That’s the reason the quality surrounds them when they go to Melwood.”
“And we are very lucky, because the boys are there an awful lot. Every day there is a phone call for how many boys to be taken up there. It’s a daily occurrence. It’s not something we can talk for granted. The boys have to go there and make an impression.”
“It’s a global game now. The first team is representative of that global game. I still think the academy has to have a host of top talents, but the first step is alway to look in and around the Merseyside area. Historically, that’s where world class players have come from and more will come from in the future.”
Not only are many of Liverpool’s first team foreign summer signings starting to prove their worth. The academy draws on talent from around the globe as well. The arrival of international youth players in the academy provides a distinct challenge.
“They are given an awful lot of support. I often think about what it would be like if one of our local lads got the opportunity to go and play abroad. You’d have to give them a period of adaptation. Its very easy to judge too quickly. Until you speak the language and adjust to the climate, and you have acclimate to English Football which is very different. Until you have gone through that period, it’s very difficult to make an assessment. So we do our best to give them as much support as we can Once they’ve adapted, then it’s an easier process to make decision on how far you think the player can go.”
The desire to know more and follow youth players in a club’s system has never been greater. For many Liverpool supporters, academy players continue to be of keen interest with many trying to discern who will comprise the next generation of first team stars. Three reserve players of particular interest to fans, include Samed Yesil, Marc Pelosi, and Ryan McLaughlin. Inglethorpe provided his thoughts on their recent troubles with injury.
“Samed has had some terrible luck, suffering two cruciate ligament injuries. So finding that rhythm again and trying to get fit is always going to be hard. He’s played some 21 game and he’s showing really positive signs of getting back to the level of playing before he got injured. It’s nice to be able to say he is in a good place.”
“Marc’s injury was possibly the worst I’ve seen in the 15 years of being involved in coaching. For him to overcome it from a psychological standpoint as much as a physical point has an outstanding testament to his determination and mentality as a young player. It’s great to see him playing 90 minutes again. Every game he’s playing he’s gaining more and more confidence.”
“Ryan has had a terrible run of injuries, a string of niggly injuries rather than a substantial one. He’s not been able to show people what he’s capable of. He went on a successful loan and is more than ready to play senior football again. He is a top character, brings life to the training ground, training sessions, and locker room. He is the sort of character you hope fulfils his potential.”
When asked about his own future, Inglethorpe remains committed to developing and bringing young players through to start their professional lives as footballers. Despite his recent rise and growing success, he remains grounded and positive.
“I want to be the best coach I can, the best developer of talent as I can. [In five years,] I’d love to think that I am doing the same thing and talking about players that are in the first team and talking about the ones below that are coming through. My intention is to hopefully be in the same role.”
“[Liverpool] are very different from a lot of other teams, at the minute. There is a genuine desire, from top to bottom, to see young players coming through the academy to play in the first team. It’s not difficult to sell that vision to our younger players, because they can actually see it and feel it, by being out there and training with the first team everyday.”
“I can say, if you are good enough, you will be given an opportunity. There aren’t many teams that can honestly say that.”
Whether it is through the reserve team or a loan spell, Liverpool’s academy players can be assured of the promise that Inglethorpe is looking for the best opportunities to challenge and develop them into professional footballers. While not all of them will pull on the red shirt and walk through the tunnel on to Anfield, the future remains bright for local lads and beyond, with the club and coaching staff making the academy a clear priority.
Will the Academy be able to maintain the promise for locals once Gerrard departs? Are you confident in the academy’s ability to produce top talent for the first team? Comment below.