Liverpool’s victory over Everton in the FA Cup yesterday was one for the ages. Not because it was necessarily meaningful in the moment - it was an early round tie in the competition after all. But rather that Liverpool trotted out a team filled with highly rated academy prospects against Carlo Ancelotti’s essentially full first-team side and won.
Many words yet to be written and sung about the heroics of the Baby Reds, and of one Curtis Jones in particular, but one of the senior players on the pitch wanted to be the first to talk up the young lads. Adam Lallana donned the armband for the the side once James Milner went off the pitch to injury and essentially helped helm the young squad to victory.
Though he spoke of feeling like a “babysitter” at times, he was very direct in the expectations and confidence he had in the whole group.
“We came into this game, and the message beforehand was ‘expect to win. I couldn’t care less about the average age of the team or how many young lads were out there - we expected to win. I know how good the young lads are, they train with us day in, day out.”
It is no surprise that the sense of confidence and expectation that exists within the first team also goes to the academy products. Especially when you consider how often and how closely the two sides have worked together since Jurgen Klopp’s appointment.
But this run of matches and perhaps this one in particular, with Jurgen Klopp coaching the team, is something else. It’s a clear signal to the youth that a pathway exists to promotion to the first team. And that it’s not just lip service: the gaffer believes they are capable of doing more.