Ten games into the season I’m quite sure that every Kopite will agree that his faith was not misplaced.
Frankly, it has been nothing short of unfortunate for Brendan, the team and the youngsters themselves that their outstanding performances have yielded only a meagre tally of 11 league points and 6 in Europe, the former being a greater worry than the latter for most.
It has to be said that the mere opportunity to play with, not disregarding the influence of playing around, the indescribably talented Luis Suarez, our talismanic and charismatic leader Stevie G and our new found pass master Joe Allen, has been a tremendous help and immense confidence booster for these starlets.
Though Shelvey undoubtedly featured a lot more in the first team prior to this season, Sterling was the first to really take first team football by the scruff of the neck, and to his credit, hasn’t slowed down since his injection into the starting XI either. He has played with the same level of intensity in every game he has been involved in and his skill and vision sometimes have you doubting his date of birth.
Andre Wisdom has also capitalized on the injury of Academy graduate Martin Kelly to stake his claim in the first team and might very well make an immediate return to the starting XI more and more unlikely for Kelly if he can maintain his level of performance over the coming weeks. Suso is another who has also been quick to prove his worth every chance he has gotten. The trio of himself, Suarez and Sterling made sure that the Newcastle defence remained in torment for the full 90-minute span of a game only God knows how we drew.
The major challenge for us now is the same one that plagues Arsenal; keeping these players at Anfield when they reach the peak of their talent. They may be driven by the self-consuming need to prove themselves that every youngster has and satisfied by the opportunity to play alone for now, but after a season or too, when they become established as top-class players in their roles and positions, their motives and aspirations will definitely change.
The only way we can achieve this is by doing the exact opposite of what Arsenal have been, for the period they have seen an exodus of their young talent: reel in silverware. Every player wants to win medals, trophies and titles, and for some it doesn’t really matter where. Loyalty like Steven Gerrard’s is a rarity in the modern game and the lure of playing in Europe’s premier club competition might not be enough even if we manage to make a return to it.
Players need the assurance that the club’s aspirations and vision for both the short and long term are in tune with their own, and for most, there must be proof of this vision in transfer policy, market activity and managerial tact, philosophy and training regimes. Arsenal have lost the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri, Robin Van Persie and Alex Song, not only for the reason of their inability to win a major trophy, but also because the club’s market activity in recent transfer windows has failed to prove a desire for silverware.
This is why the January transfer window(and probably every transfer window after that ) will be very important, not only for bolstering our thin roster but as proof of the vision FSG and Brendan Rodgers claim to have for the club. Suarez, Agger and Skrtel may have penned new contracts but such sought after players of their ability will surely be looking for some signs of progression if their loyalty is to remain unscathed.
In my opinion, holding on to these players and bringing in more players of exceptional quality is the only way to keep these youngsters at Anfield in the short term. The long term solution is creating a team that is unstoppable, unplayable and dominant in all competitions and capable of winning at a least a trophy a season.
Rodgers’ philosophy is already telling on the team and like he rightly said in his post-match interview on Sunday: Once we get that little bit of quality into the side, the results and success will follow. Hopefully, the protracted services of these vibrant youngsters will also come along with it.
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