From the resurgence of Liverpool under Shankly right up until the current 13/14 season, LiverpoolFC has been fortunate enough to have outstanding local talent on show in the starting eleven. The likes of Carragher and Gerrard most recently, Fowler and McManaman in the nineties, as well as the likes of Aldridge, Callaghan, Tommy smith, Jimmy case and McDermott, who all experienced life at Anfield during L.F.C’s most successful era from the seventies to the late eighties, were all brought up in Liverpool. It is these sorts of players that encapsulate the passion of the fans whilst on the field. Home-grown talent is necessary for any Liverpool team to be successful in my opinion. Despite the fact that some of the greatest players to pull on the red shirt may be foreign or from different areas in the UK, they will have played in a squad with a backbone of local talent. Players who have come through the youth system after growing up in the city can understand better than anyone else the feelings of the fans and their desire for the team to succeed, these players raise morale more than any other in the squad and relay what an honour it is to represent Liverpool FC.
At one point or another, fans will have considered who will fill the shoes of Steven Gerrard when he eventually hangs up his boots and calls it a day on his Liverpool playing career. Gerrard is the only remaining player that was brought up in Liverpool or in surrounding areas that is likely to start every game. Aside from the world class talent that Gerrard brings to the side, he also has a great presence on the field when playing in the red shirt. Gerrard could be perceived as the ultimate Scouse talisman. To have achieved what he has for his boyhood club and in the manner in which he has done so is a strong argument for why he could be seen in such a light.
Filling the void of Gerrard’s wide range of skills when he decides he no longer wants to continue will be hard enough. The Liverpool captain’s influence is second to none at the club; this is evident as Luis Suarez claimed his persuasion to make him stay at the club during the summer was a big draw for him not leaving for Arsenal or Real Madrid. Even if Liverpool will be able to sign a capable player who could have the same effects on the field as Gerrard, it will be a struggle to discover someone who lives and breathes all things L.F.C. These exterior attributes come natural to Gerrard due to his upbringing and supporting the club as a boy, this is why I believe it will be difficult for a multimillion pound replacement to emulate Gerrard’s presence on the field and relationship with the fans.
Youngsters currently at the club who have been brought up in areas in Liverpool or nearby do not seem to be having the same break through impact like that of Fowler and Owen. Players who are part of the first team like Flanagan and Kelly have had brief spells in the side but have been pushed down the pecking order due to injuries and experienced completion for a starting position. However a possibility for a lack of local talent forcing its way into the starting eleven may be down Liverpool’s scouts looking more than ever to bring in promising young players from outside of Liverpool. Players in the side such as Sterling and Ibe have both been scouted from other youth academies around the country; also the likes of Suso and Teixeira have been brought in from abroad to be a part of Liverpool’s youth system.
There is a clear decline in local players from Liverpool breaking through the ranks and making an impact on the first team. The last young Scouser to do so was Gerrard and nobody has come close since. Gerrard will be a huge loss to Liverpool when he retires, however I do not believe that he is irreplaceable and that over time another local talent will have an important role in the starting eleven. I expect Rogers to buy new talent to replace aging players rather than hoping the current crop of youth players brought up in the city will break into the squad and emulate the likes of Gerrard. This may not boost the chances of players who have grown up in the Liverpool area becoming a key figure within the squad in the near future; however I feel it will be the best way of keeping the team highly competitive despite sacrificing the Scouse presence in the team.