Youngsters Derby Experience
Brendan Rodgers is giving youth a chance at Liverpool this season, which has been applauded by most Liverpool supporters who realise there is great potential coming through at youth level.
The step up to first team level is massive and for the younger players with no experience at this level, there will be ups and downs. Most youngsters breaking into a first team only receive fleeting chances, but there has been a few at Liverpool this season that are playing regularly, Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom have become regulars and are having to face new challenges every week.
Sunday’s Merseyside derby was a big learning experience for Liverpool’s youngsters. The Goodison experience is a unique one, the crowd are up close to the park and the atmosphere is intense and passionate. The game itself is always blood and thunder with no time to dwell on the ball, and for all the preparation in the world you can never be prepared for what you will experience.
Liverpool’s youngsters have been a breath of fresh air this season, but on Sunday they struggled against an experienced, on form, motivated Everton side who intent on putting Liverpool in their place.
Liverpool were under pressure from the start, but found themselves 2-0 up in the first half only to be pegged back. But it was noticeable that Sterling was struggling to make any impact on the wings as he was tightly marked and physically challenged by Everton’s defenders. Suso hardly got a touch in the first half with the pace of the game passing him by, Sahin had a similar problem in the midfield. Andre Wisdom had his most torrid time from coming into the first team, mainly caused by the dangerous opponent Mirallas who he faced. Wisdom would have been glad to see him replaced at half time.
With so many players struggling to impose themselves in the match, it was tremendous for Liverpool that they came away with a positive result from the match and should have clearly won the match in the last minute.
Credit has to go to Brendan Rodgers who changed things at half time, realising that Liverpool were second best to Everton. His changes both protected the struggling youngsters and gave more of a physical presence in the shape of Shelvey and Coates replacing Sahin and Suso.
Rodgers also changed his tactics as he put Coates into defence alongside Skrtel and Agger to combat Everton’s aerial threat. Raheem Sterling was played more through the middle after struggling in the first half and immediately made an impact at the start of the second half when he almost scored when being sent clear with only Howard to beat, unfortunately his finish let him down.
But Sterling’s pace and trickery became more of a threat in the second half as Everton players regularly fouled the youngster to stop him with some rough treatment, which never affected him, especially with him on a yellow card, he never reacted to the treatment he received.
Andre Wisdom continued to struggle in the second half but once again Rodgers realised this and replaced him with Henderson.
Rodgers changes made a difference to the second half as Everton didn’t have the same domination and didn’t look as dangerous with their attacks and Liverpool looked more dangerous on the counter attack.
Brendan Rodgers showed what a good manager he is with his willingness to change things so early in the match rather than wait for things to happen. Protecting his youngsters from possible mental scarring of a difficult experience in such a high profile match was also clever by Rodgers.
But the faith Rodgers is showing in his youngsters is brave and the experience of a Merseyside derby will give them invaluable experience and they will be better and stronger for it.