For local lads at the Academy, it must be a surreal experience to have Steven Gerrard as their coach. The Liverpool legend started work as a youth coach last month in what was described as a “wide-ranging role” when his return was announced. Apart from a pre-retirement experience in Los Angeles, Gerrard spent his entire career at Liverpool and left at the end of the 2014/15 season.
Liam Coyle is a 17-year-old central midfielder who broke into Neil Critchley’s under-18 squad last season and shared his thoughts on having Steven Gerrard as a coach. Over 700 appearances for Liverpool, over a century of caps for England, national team and club captain, World Cups and European Championships, two legendary Liverpool finals, a club talisman for many years, and those beautifully vicious goals. Steven Gerrard isn't your average coach for Scousers dreaming of following in his footsteps.
“It’s unbelievable to have him out with us on the training pitch and you think that’s Steven Gerrard coaching me!” Coyle told the official site. “Steven gets involved and plays in the training matches with us.
“I remember the first time he got involved and I was alongside him in centre midfield. He still puts himself about and trains like he would if he was still playing for the first team and it’s just great to play alongside him and learn from him.”
Coyle talked up the inspiration Gerrard gives the young players he trains and reflected on his own experience as a midfielder. As a former captain, leading and motivating developing players should be a particular strength. While Gerrard was the sort of captain that lead by example, it’s encouraging to discover that he provides inspiration and advice.
“His motivation is really good. He talks to all of the lads before the game and he gets you going,” Coyle explained. “I’ve already got that self-motivation myself but we are such a young team and it helps them as well.
“Everyone looks up to him because we all know what he did as a player for Liverpool. Anyone who comes into this club is going to be inspired by him. It’s great for me to have someone like Gerrard at the Academy. He gives me advice and helps me with little tips as a midfielder.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a couple of individual sessions with Steven. He's been helping me with my long passing and teaching me how to strike a ball better. We have also been doing some shooting practice because I don’t score many goals but if I can work on that, who better to learn from!”
As long as Gerrard doesn't long for the limelight or try to dominate training to show the kids he's still got it, this is a great opportunity to help the next generation develop and perhaps graduate to the first-team squad. Ultimately, the goal is for Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp to be able to bring through talent in the years ahead. If Gerrard can play a role in inspiring and challenging youngsters to fulfil their potential, Liverpool might not need to look too far for talented young players who understand the demands of the club as well as the manager.