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Win Over Middlesbrough Highlights Importance of Academy

Liverpool's side featured two young debutantes versus Middlesbrough on Tuesday, and Brendan Rodgers was quick to identify the importance of their contributions to Liverpool's win.

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When I was seventeen, I was making really terrible sculptures in art class.
When I was seventeen, I was making really terrible sculptures in art class.
Alex Livesey

Early rounds of cup competitions have a bad reputation as being a place for fringe players and academy hopefuls to cut their teeth on lower division competition in hopes of impressing the old gaffer. Managers assure everyone pre-match that they're taking their opponents seriously, but even if fielding a decently senior squad there is always one or two fresh faces who make at least the bench if not the starting line-up.

"Tonight was a good night for our young players," Rodgers said after winning on penalties over Middlesbrough. "Young Jordan Rossiter could walk to Anfield; he just lives round the corner. I was delighted for him. He got the opportunity and showed wonderful composure to get his finish.

"I was also impressed with young Jordan Williams, he came on and showed really good stature and composure in the game. He is a wonderful footballer and a young player that is developing well."

Rodgers is clever in talking about the Academy products as something more than just the natural result of a productive youth system graduating players to the senior team . He sets the tone for not just the next great Academy graduate, but the next great Scouse player to come good for the senior team. Whether that player is Rossiter is far too early to tell, but Rodgers grafting the same origin story onto the seventeen year-old that he did on Jon Flanagan before him paints a sentimental picture of a child growing up in the shadow of an iconic stadium and getting a crack at the senior team.

It's a well worn bit of mythology for any club, but it's of particular importance at Liverpool FC where the local community is so tightly woven into the fabric of the club. It manages to be romantic and realistic simultaneously, which is a challenging balance to strike but one that is possible when you have a decent track record of moving local kids to the topmost level at your club.

"I think all the young kids from our U8s and U9s at the Academy now - and all the Academy coaches - will look at [Rossiter's and Williams' success] tonight," Rodgers continued. "They know anyway, through my work, that I will always look to them because my job is to grow the top-class young talents, not just to buy them in. We want to try and grow them here, or else there's no point in having a youth Academy.

"So for Rossiter to come in and play and score was fantastic for him. The other young kids who weren't involved are getting good experience. Tonight is a great night in their step towards playing for the first team regularly, hopefully."

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