With most of Liverpool’s first team players off on international duty this week, the cub have taken the chance to complete the move to their new Kirkby training facilities, leaving their old training grounds at Melwood behind after more than 70 years.
The new facilities will bring a lot of good with them, and a key advantage is that they will allow the first team and youth teams to train at the same location. Still, there’s some sadness in for many at the club to be leaving behind their old home.
“It’s an incredibly sad day,” managing director Andy Hughes told The Liverpool Echo this week when he was asked about leaving Melwood behind. “The most remarkable thing about Melwood is how everyone loves the place. Even to this day.
“We have continued to invest in the site and we absolutely have a fantastic training facility there and the current staff who work there, the first-team, the coaching staff, everybody absolutely loves the place. It’s just a really sad moment we’re actually leaving.
“But we’ve been talking about it for a very long period of time. The main motivation was to get the academy and the first team on to the same site which we feel is absolutely critical, and Melwood is simply too small now so we absolutely had to move.”
It’s a move that’s been in the works now for seven years, and reflects an early priority under the club’s owners since 2010 to make it easier for young players to shift between the U23 team and the first team, removing a potential obstacle to development.
“We’ve only ever had the first team at Melwood, the U23s at Kirkby,” Hughes added. “So there’s always been an issue that somebody progresses and becomes part of the first-team or goes to train with the first-team, they have to go to a different site.
“At such a critical moment of their development, it is not ideal. And obviously to have all the support staff across the sites with the coaching staff and so on, it’s an obvious point, people don’t work as well together and there’s a challenge there.
“So the main issue all along has been to just get everyone together and create this clear pathway all the way through the ages groups, all the age groups, the U23s, which are now in the new building and then into the first-team squad.”