The youth impressed and were let down too often by the more senior players being given a chance to improve their lot at Anfield. Across two rounds and four games Liverpool played in the FA Cup this year before falling to West Ham at the second time of asking, that was the clear trend for all to see.
Youngsters like Brad Smith, Tiago Ilori, Kevin Stewart, and Joao Carlos Teixeira impressed. Vice-captain James Milner noticed it, too, though he wasn’t one of the more senior players given regular minutes in the FA Cup this season, and he’s proud of the youngsters who may have worked their way into contention in the league.
"To perform how they did over those two games and when they've been called on this year is great," Milner told the club’s official website. "We’ve had a lot of injuries this year, and you want those boys to come in and not just fill that spot for the time being but to push whoever's holding that shirt and be part of the squad."
With Liverpool out of the running for the top four in the league and turning all their attention now to a League Cup final against Manchester City and a return to the Europa League for the knockout rounds against Augsburg, there could even be a playing time in the league now up for grabs for the more impressive youngsters.
Wholesale changes are unlikely, though, and just because a player had a good outing in the FA Cup won’t guarantee another chance straight away. There will be hope for some of them to come good over time, but there will also need to be patience—on the part of the players as much as on the part of the fans and coaches.
"You have peaks and troughs and good times and bad times," continued Milner. "You see a lot of promising young players and at the first sign of trouble—a loss of form or being dropped—you see them drop away and you might not see to much of them again. So it’s important they have that strong mental side."
At the end of the day, though, Milner has faith that it’s a good group of youth players in and around the first team at Liverpool right now, and that they all have what it takes to make a solid career in the game. Not all will end up at Liverpool over the longer term, but Milner feels confident they will make it as professionals.
"I think the pleasing thing is they’re all good lads," he added. "You hear a lot of things about young footballers and this and that, but they want to learn. That’s what we’re here to do, the older boys, to help them as much as we can. When they’re good lads and they want to learn and they’ll listen you can’t give enough time."