Developing talent and bringing through youth has become a bit of a mantra for Liverpool ever since Rafa Benitez overhauled the academy at the end of the 2008-09 season, but with the Spaniard dismissed before getting the chance to reap any rewards from his restructuring and few prospects making any more than the occasional cameo contribution under Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish, any potential youth movement has yet to move far beyond hopeful talk. New manager Brendan Rodgers, however, intends to change that.
"Young players will run through a barbed wire fence for you," he said. "Older players will look for the hole or just turn back and not even go through it. But you get that freshness from [players like] Raheem [Sterling]. This might be a good opportunity for them. Because we don't have the money that some of our rivals have, I want to make the philosophy through the club that allows us to bring players from the academy into the first team. We want to develop what this club has had for many years and develop top young players."
It might not be entirely down to choice, then, as Rodgers identifies a lack of spending power compared to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City as a reason why Liverpool have to give youth a chance sooner or later. Yet this is hardly a revelatory suggestion for him to make, and despite it being a clear reality that has existed for some time there has often seemed a resistance to following through on the talk of giving youth a chance in recent seasons.
If Sunday's teamsheet—with 17-year-old Raheem Sterling given his first start as part of a lineup with an average age below 25 for the first time in a decade—is any indication, though, Brendan Rodgers might actually be prepared to follow through on it.