The Hull match this coming Sunday could have been the time to give Liverpool fans a possible look at the future of the club. There is nothing to play for in the match, the Tigers are already relegated while Rafa Benitez has his mind focused on next season and what funds he has available to rebuild the squad over the summer. As an end of season match, it gives the manager the opportunity to play those players he needs to see play at the top level. Not I might add, those fringe players who have been subs for the first team all year such as Philipp Degen and Diego Cavalieri, who most likely won’t be at the club next season, but youngsters who could excite the Reds fans and prop up morale going into next season.
Certainly there will be opportunities for players such as Dani Pacheco and Daniel Ayala to play. It goes without saying that such youngsters deserve a run out on the last day of the season considering they have already taken part in some first team matches this campaign. Ayala has already started two Premier league matches against Stoke and Burnley respectively, and it would be logical for him to start the game at the KC stadium this coming weekend. The same could be said for Pacheco, he has come on as a substitute in recent matches as well as providing a crucial assist for David Ngog in the 1-0 victory over Unirea Urziceni back in February.
These certain youngsters are not the ones I am talking about. Others also deserve to have a go at the top level. David Amoo, Steven Irwin and perhaps Peter Gulacsi have all been working hard, and playing regularly for the reserve team this season. I am not saying that all will progress to become top class Premier League footballers but the Hull match provides the club the opportunity to showcase to their fans some players who could excite them and make an impact at the top level. Reserve football in this country is not at the required level to really test young players, in fact it can sometimes stunt a players growth and leave him disheartened about the progress of his own career. Loan spells can certainly help players, that is certainly the case with Jay Spearing at the moment, but barring that, a game in the first team will always encourage players to push on with their careers.
Arsene Wenger at Arsenal has done this regularly for his youngsters in the Carling Cup during the time he has been in England, and although I understand that some players in Liverpool’s reserves are not up to the quality of playing in the first team, there are surely a few that deserve a go in a dead rubber match. David Amoo has had a good late season spell, using his raw talent and pace on the right side of the reserves midfield. Steven Irwin is very versatile and his combative edge in midfield would surely be worth a good look at. Gulacsi in goal is another possibility, and with Cavalieri most likely returning to Brazil, the Hungarian stopper could stake a claim to be Reina’s number 2.
This plea for greater youngster involvement is all academic though, as all three are currently playing on a Liverpool reserve tour of Europe until the end of May. Obviously if Rafa feels these players aren’t good enough yet to play a Premier League game then I can acknowledge that, but even if we lost 3 or 4-0 to Hull, it would still have been a better experience for these players rather than playing in a friendly in Northern Spain. In the future, there must be a system by which player’s can see a progression to first team football on top of just improving the management structure further down at Academy level. The re-formation of the structure last summer was certainly beneficial and brought the Kirkby Academy and Melwood much closer together, but more needs to be done to improve players for top level action. What benefit is there to playing the first team or fringe players, when youngsters could benefit more?
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