2. The Blueprint

In my last post I outlined my intentions for Liverpool and their youth development, and in this post, the idea is that I’ll walk you through how I plan on achieving this, from youngsters arriving at the club through our youth intakes, right through to bringing them into the first-team or making the decision to sell them on.

My general idea, is that I’m going to analyse player progression on an annual basis, with general plans laid out for each year between 16 and 21, when a decision is made on their future. I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure how well this will work, and a lot of it is going to depend on the attributes of my coaching and scouting team, so my first move is going to be to find staff with good Judging of Potential and Current Ability, to ensure that my coaching reports are as accurate as possible.

I’m very conscious of the fact that players will develop at different rates, which is why i’m setting 21 as a decision age; if a player is on the cusp of breaking through, i’m willing to hold onto players until they hit 23. I’m also aware that the system may result in losing money on players if I bring them in, or having to release players on free transfers without making money on them. However, that is a risk i’m willing to take, because I think the system will work well once i’ve been able to bring in the right staff.

Youth Football: Under 18s

For players under 18, I think the most important thing is developing their technical ability – bodies are still developing, and I don’t want to be throwing guys into my reserve setup who can’t pass a ball. At this point, i’ll be focusing on training players specifically for the roles they’re going to play in my system, and checking training reports every three months to see if my coaching staff have picked up any weaknesses in their play.

I’m also going to rotate my Under 18s through 4 blocks of training each season; working through a cycle of Attacking, Defending, Ball Control and Fitness, so that they get a rounded amount of training on the majority of technical aspects of the game. The general scheme will be:

  • July, August, September: Ball Control
  • October, November, December: Attacking
  • January February, March: Defending
  • April, May, June: Fitness

The idea is that using this rotation will give our Youth Intakes 3 months to develop their physicality before moving onto technical aspects of the game – if I could figure out a way to only give that fitness training to a certain group of players, I would! As it is, a youngster joining us at 16 should go round this programme twice, while also getting role-specific training, and a focus on weaknesses in his game every 3 months.

Reserve Football: 18-20

At 18, Players will be moved into our reserve system, in order to gain game-time at a higher level than before. I’m keen to keep these youngsters at the club, and i’m also conscious that by 18, some of them will be ready for first-team football. In this instance, I am willing to move them to our senior squad if I think they have a role there. In terms of training, our reserve team will continue with individualised training, re-assessed for weakness every 3 months between 18 and 19. Between 19 and 20, I will look to remove that individual additional training, and start working on assigning PPMs which will contribute to a player’s role on the pitch at senior level.

Reserve Football: 21+

At 21, Players are likely to be reaching a point where they are ready for higher-level football, which they’re unlikely to find at Under 23 level. At this point, players who I think have a definite future at the club will either be moved to the senior squad, or if there is no role for them there, loaned out to a club which will give them first-team football, with reasonable facilities. Between 21 and 23, players will undergo continuous assessment to see if there is a role for them or if they need another loan. By the age of 23, a player will either be moved to the Senior Squad, or sold if there is no space for them at that point.

Squad training for the reserves at both age groups will alternate between Fitness, Tactics, Ball Control and Team Cohesion on a 3-monthly basis, in order to improve players’ physical and mental aspects, ahead of the jump to senior football, where they will have the same training schedule; a rotation between the 4 key training categories which I think will bring us success long-term.

I’m hoping that this system will work for developing youngsters; but if anyone has any reservations or suggestions, hit me up on twitter and let me know how wrong I am!

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