Liverpool fans will have woken today to widespread reports the club has terminated the contracts of academy director Frank McParland and technical director Rodolfo Borrell. This is, to put it mildly, surprising news. The quality and promise of Liverpool's academy had been perhaps the one constant since Fenway Sports Group arrived on the scene, offering hope for a future filled with star players who came up through the club's ranks no matter if they were originally born in Liverpool or London or Lisbon.
Now, though the hopes will remain high for many of the kids working their way through the system and the expectations astronomical or the club to put the academy in an even stronger position with whoever it is that comes in to replace the departed duo, there's at least a hint of uncertainty. It's an uncertainty that is added to by last autumn's departure of Pep Segura, who had arrived alongside McParland and Borrell in 2009 and similarly was considered integral to the academy's revitalisation.
McParland and Borrell, along with Segura, had earned the lion's share of the praise for making Liverpool's academy respectable again after a decade of poor returns, and getting the trio into place had been one of the final major acts of Rafa Benitez' tenure. Under their oversight, Liverpool fans have become at least passingly familiar with—and exceedingly hopeful for—the likes of Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom, Suso, Jerome Sinclair, Ryan McLaughlin, Jordon Ibe, and Jordan Rossiter.
The reasons behind their dismissal remain unclear, though given the mid-season nature, most will expect replacements to have already been lined up as part of a major academy overhaul. Even then, many will wonder about the timing and that there never seems to be a dull moment when it comes to Liverpool Football Club—though following on from Suarez' return to action in late September there had been a delightful two month stretch when off pitch matters hadn't threatened to steal the limelight.
For fans who concerned themselves with questions of how the club could compete over the longer term with Middle Eastern sheikhs and Russian oil tycoons, Liverpool's academy and the ongoing efforts to return it to its former stature had seemed the answer. McParland and Borrell, along with Segura in past years, set a high bar with their efforts, one FSG now need to clear with their next set of hires.