By 90Min
April 26, 2019

Liverpool made a serious statement by winning the final of the 2019 FA Youth Cup against Manchester City this week.

It confirms that the future is bright for the Reds after 17-year-old Bobby Duncan equalised with a long range effort to send the game to extra-time and eventually penalties, with Liverpool winning it from 12 yards in the first one-legged final in the prestigious competition's history.

Liverpool have a fine tradition of home grown players. But after the surge in the 1990s that saw Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher, Danny Murphy and Steven Gerrard all break through, success stories have been a little too sparse.

Talents like Jay Spearing, captain the last time Liverpool lifted the Youth Cup in 2007, Andre Wisdom, Jon Flanagan, Jack Robinson and Jordan Rossiter all fell by the wayside.

Even Ben Woodburn, a Liverpool debutant and Wales international at 17, looks more likely to have a future away from Anfield rather than thrive in the first team long-term.

Now, Duncan, who has scored 32 goals in all competitions this season, Yasser Larouci, Neco Williams and the rest of the Class of '19 offer hope that Trent Alexander-Arnold won't be just an isolated example of making the successful transition from academy to first team.

Beyond their own success, what Liverpool's FA Youth Cup this season is break the Chelsea monopoly on the trophy that had existed since 2014 after the London club had won the last five in a row. Chelsea had also been victorious in 2010 and 2012, and were beaten finalists in 2013.

The major criticism against Chelsea during that time, was that despite their incredible and lasting dominance at Under-18 level, which also included U18 Premier League national titles in 2017 and 2018, as well as UEFA Youth League triumphs in 2015 and 2016, the door to the first team has been virtually closed.

Steve Bardens/GettyImages

While several Youth Cup winners have made senior appearances here and there, only Andreas Christensen, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi can be considered 'first team players'. But Christensen could soon be squeezed out, Loftus-Cheek is still mostly a substitute, and Hudson-Odoi's development is on hold while he recovers from a ruptured Achilles.

It might also be worth noting that 2019 is the fourth time in five years that Manchester City, for all their investment in academy facilities and youth scouting, have lost in the final. City last won the competition in 2008, several months prior to the Sheikh Mansour takeover.

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