Is ‘Home-grown’ Really Where the Heart Is?

Date: 10th January 2013 at 4:00 pm
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IN light of Brendan Rodgers’ recent comments underlining his commitment to finding the best local, young talent for the benefit of the first-team in years to come, Tim Williams asks the question: Does home-grown talent really matter to supporters?

I did a piece a couple of months ago which had a central theme of owner approach and potential directions that the club could be taken. It provided some interesting responses from LFC and fans of other clubs alike.

So in light of the departure of to West Ham, as well as the Hammers taking another freebie disaster off the Gunners hands in Chamakh, it started me thinking about what modern football clubs represent.

Taking the red spectacles off for a second, surely one of the most extraordinary European Cup/Champion League successes of all time has to be that of our hooped friends from Glasgow, who had 10 of the 11 starters of the final born (Tommy Gemmell, born in Motherwell I believe) within 10 minutes of Park, I personally can’t foresee anything like this happening again, can you?

Moving forward to a more modern day perspective and you have Athletic Bilbao and their strict policy of Basque only players, and whilst this can certainly ebb and flow somewhat there is no denying what that team produced against United last season.

So with these thoughts in mind I want to present two options for Liverpool to adopt with the click of fingers (please remember this isn’t a real proposal of forward movement!) I would love at the end of the piece or on Twitter to hear your thoughts. Manager and Owners in this instance are irrelevant, but if you want to tell me who you would have then please feel free.

Home is where the heart is

Without complicating matters and hunting birth certificates, for this option I am talking about playing staff that have come through Melwood, so despite Sterling and , for example, being born far away from Merseyside I have classed them as home-grown.

As the season gathers pace and we head towards the 2013/14 season where even more money has been pumped into the and subsequently drip fed to the 20 teams, the game of our fathers and their fathers further slips away from us as we hurtle towards the American style ‘Franchises’. Surely a club should be a representation of the city and its history as well as the people, their philosophies and passions?

The worry is that this can be lost in pursuit of money. I am not suggesting that a local club should be for local people, far from it, but it is easy to see why people fall in love with a city such as Liverpool and people such as Scousers, even if I do say so myself, and if these traits are carried forward onto the pitch and how the club carries itself in the wider market, then it can continue to attract those with an affinity for all things Scouse.

It is no surprise that and are held in the regard they are and that those coming into the club that have displayed that ‘Liverpool-ness’ such as Dalglish, Barnes and Suarez are taken into the hearts of the Kop.

Liverpool T-shirts

So in this respect, the theory would be that the squad representing Liverpool Football Club throughout the season would be sourced directly from Melwood. So with many a tear, the likes of Agger, Suarez and Lucas would bid a fond farewell, and with less of a tear and perhaps not as fond a farewell the club would say goodbye to people like Downing. Madness I hear you cry, yes indeedy, but as I previously stated this isn’t a proposal for the club to adopt. By my reckoning, with the criteria I set out above, our current starting XI (4-4-2) could be Peter Gulacsi, Andre Wisdom, Jamie Carragher, Martin Kelly, Jack Robinson, , Jay Spearing, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Ibe, Suso and Adam Morgan.

Who knows what this team could produce or how successful or unsuccessful they would be in the short or long-term using this model, but the killer question is: would you not have a greater sense of pride at whatever this team achieved?

Keeping up with the Jones’s

Yes what that Celtic team achieved was impressive, massively impressive, but that was the 1960’s and the modern game has changed so much. Can you imagine what would happen to the Bremner, Hunt and Giles, Leeds United, another dominant team from that era if transported to the modern day? Yes history is important, it is what shapes today and tomorrow, but it is crucial not to get caught up in it, you have to always keep taking forward steps.

Liverpool Football Club is littered with talent from outside of Melwood, Liverpool and England. People such as Dalglish, Molby, Torres, Suarez, Alonso, Hamann are cemented in the annals of Liverpool Football Club, and without them, history may have been quite different indeed. The names mentioned, as well as others have been taken to the heart of the Kop (yes, Mr Torres you had a special place! Had!) because they exuded the qualities we demand of them.

Yet as Father Time plods his way along we approach that fateful day when Messrs Gerrard and Carragher no longer lace their boots and the distinct possibility that week in and week out the side will not have a Scouse heartbeat. As much as it hurts to lose that face of the club, what the current side contains is people such as Pepe Reina, and who have taken on board everything the club and the city stands for.

What does this suggest? Well in the current climate does the club need any playing connection to the city or the academy? As long as the ‘right’ players are signed then no; a team of Agger’s (that would actually be alright wouldn’t it!) rather than a team of Cole’s. In order to compete at the top table quality should always be that primary factor. So without any connection to the Melwood we would currently be looking at a starting XI (4-4-2) of Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Assaidi, Lucas, Allen, Downing, Sturridge and Suarez. Not bad!

There is no doubt that the ‘non-Melwood’ XI would perform better than the ‘Melwood’ XI but would their achievements mean less? If say the FA Cup was won by Liverpool and you could select which of the above teams won it, who would you pick? Personally speaking its home-grown all the way!

Yet this is really a ludicrous scenario as we are in a money dominated business so scenario 1 could never happen – more the pity in my mind. Yet the underlying theme of this piece is that the days of fielding a majority home-grown side with a sprinkling of outside players brought in is long gone but that mentality has to remain.

The problem a or a has is that players will follow money, and whilst that is true of the vast majority, any Liverpool signing has to show an understanding of the team he plays for and the city and people he represents: a ‘home-grown mentality’!

I’m on Twitter @timdibs so come find me and let me know your thoughts, and please comment on here I love chatting with people who share my passions.

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0 thoughts on “Is ‘Home-grown’ Really Where the Heart Is?

  • Karim
    3 years ago

    It doesnt matter where the player comes from as long as they are good enough, mentally strong enough and show passion for Liverpool.

    I think thats Brendans way of saying “Look we arent going to be able to buy the title, so lets look at homegrown players who will show the fight and passion for the shirt”

  • David Tyrer
    3 years ago

    Yep, I could not agree more. It’d be lovely having a team full of quality Scouse players but that is never going to happen – and never has, actually – so I think it’s dangerous to think that Liverpool always needs a heart of Liverpool players. Look at what’s happened in the past, with really mediocre players like David Thompson, Jason McAteer and, most recently, Jay Spearing getting dozens of first team games, purely because they’re local lads.

    It shouldn’t matter where a player is from – if he fits the bill – ie, is good enough – has the right attitude and shows a genuine desire to do his utmost for the club, then he is more than welcome at Liverpool FC.

    • Tim Williams
      3 years ago

      Yeah a team full of local players wont happen for any club nowadays, but is it really unfeasible to think that a team of just academy graduates could be fielded?

      It is all about attitude though, just look at Danny Agger, he embodies what a player signing for Liverpool Football Club should be about! the yardstick!

  • TaintlessRed
    3 years ago

    Interesting idea. In addition to a player being good enough (which will always be the main criteria, I made a post on what I believe ‘Liverpool Quality’ means a few weeks back) the other aspect of relevance is how much true passion they have for the club, and not if they’re home grown. We like ‘home grown’ because they are more likely to be passionate about Liverpool FC (like a fan – one of us) rather than merely being passionate about playing for LFC (which is a different concept). If a player is a Scouser then bcos they have roots, a sense of community etc it is more likely (though far from a certainty) that your passionate about the club and not only about playing for the club and winning trophies. Players who show, through whichever means, that they care about the club are loved that much more and give that bit more and that has a positive effect on results and enjoyment by the fans. Even when he was scoring goals for fun for us, Owen was never loved as much as Fowler, not bcos he wasnt born in Liverpool but bcos he always seemed to put England first and be so career focussed,treating LFC as a means to an end. Robbie like Carra were Evertonians but we all know how much they love the club. Kenny wasn’t home grown. He joined as a mature 26 years old. He had the ability but also the passion for the club. This is the same reason Torres leaving hurt so much. It wasn’t only because he was a world class Player. Neither bcos he was going to a rival. But bcos we thought he was one of us (that YNWA marker when at Atletico) , but it turned out he was only at LFC for trophies. No trophies and he forced his exit. That hurt. Rafa as a manager was as far removed from home grown as could be, barely speaking intelligible English when he arrived. But his empathy and over and above support for the Hillsborough families is a big reason he still engenders such warm feelings. Choosing to keep his family in Liverpool again shows the strength of the bond. It’s this bond, in addition to ability, that we hope to see in our players. If a player is home grown he’s more likely to have it, but it ultimately comes down to the personality and character of the individual as to whether he shares the values of our club.

    • Tim Williams
      3 years ago

      Some quality points there. I have had a few discussions on twitter following this piece in terms of players coming into the club I have stated that currently I believe that Daniel Agger should be used as the yardstick that new signings should be measured by. As you have said a players quality should be a given whether academy or transfer, but Agger more than anyone has truly bought into what Liverpool stands for.

      I agree with you about Torres and why that hurt, although im not entirely convinced that he left purely for trophies, I think there is a lot more to that story with some of the blame lying at the feet of H&G and Purslow! Especially if the story in todays Mail is anything to go by (its in the Mail so probably not!)

      • TaintlessRed
        3 years ago

        Very much agree with u on Agger. He understands the values of the club and plays the game the right way. A good example of the right combination of ingredients 🙂

        With Torres again I agree there was some talk from him about broken promises. As I understand it these are mostly related to investment in better players etc. that didn’t materialise and he felt let down. This again focuses that he was at LFC to win trophies, he thought we were going backwards without Alonso & Mascherano (and he was right) and he saw a team where he could more likely win titles and jumped ship.
        I never trust the Daily Mail Tim – they make up so much stuff its impossible to know if there’s any truth to their stories!

  • Joshua Wylie
    3 years ago

    I’m glad that you’ve posted this question.

    It certainly is a worry for the future with the announced retirement of Jamie Carragher at the end of the season and Gerrard entering the final stages of a glittering long and prosperous career. All I wish for is for a new upcoming bright scouse prospect that can follow in these guys boots and keep the true Liverpool spirit in the side. I’m not saying players like Suarez don’t have the ‘liverpool spirit’ in them, but there’s nothing more special than seeing a scouse lad playing his heart out and doing well for the team and pushing the club forward in the right direction. I’m sure there’s at least one home grown lad waiting in the reserves to get his chance to shine on the big stage just like Stevie G all those years ago, he just needs to be given the opportunity and I pray that he does. YNWA


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