By 90Min
April 26, 2019

For a club whose academy has fallen so sharply by the wayside since the class of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, claiming a first FA Youth Cup since 2007 is a clear sign that things are going in the right direction once again, especially beneath a first team that is thriving. 

From the free-scoring strike partnership of Bobby Duncan and Paul Glatzel to the midfield creativity offered by Jake Cain, the Liverpool side who lifted that trophy is brimming with potential. 

If only it was as simple as potential breeding success, however.

Unfortunately, the statistical truth of it is that very few players who shine at youth level at the top clubs ever really translate that promise into the senior game. Perhaps it's the pressure that comes with the expectation placed on you as a prospect at the likes of Liverpool, perhaps it's just that the bridge is too far, or perhaps it's that success at the top level is attributed to some intangible ability or understanding of the senior game that can't be coached.

In any case, it's a truth demonstrated in grave terms by the last Liverpool side to win the FA Youth Cup in 2007.


April 26th 2007, Old Trafford, Manchester.

Manchester United 0-1 (2-2 agg.) Liverpool (Threlfall, 56)

Liverpool won 4-3 on penalties


Manchester United: Zieler; Eckersley, Evans, Strickland, Chester; Galbraith, Hewson, Drinkwater, Welbeck; Fagan, Brandy

Matthew Lewis/GettyImages

Liverpool: Roberts; Spearing (c), Threlfall, Darby, Burns; Flynn, Ryan, Puterill, Barnett; Linfield, Ajdarevic


Hm. Yep. Those are indeed football teams. 

For context, the starting 11 from that game managed 61 first-team appearances between them for the Reds. 55 of those were Jay Spearing, who now plies his trade for Blackpool in League Two. 

None of this is to say, of course, that the current crop of youngsters won't outshine the Spearing generation, but it does go to show just how badly time can influence what is perceived as a quality group of players, and why we shouldn't be getting carried away because of the talent in the academy. 


Chelsea's Dominance

The point is driven further home when you look at the Chelsea teams who dominated the competition prior to Liverpool's victory this season. The Blues won five Youth Cups on the bounce between 2014 and 2018, but a look at the squad that started that run tells a similar story.

Charlie Crowhurst/GettyImages
There were a number of players in that side who are still showing promise today. The side who emerged victorious over Fulham featured a young Andreas Christensen, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Dominic Solanke, but just five years on, we can already see that the majority of the players are not likely to make the cut at the top level.

Bradley Collins, Isak Ssewankambo, Jake Clarke-Salter, Jordan Houghton, Jay Dasilva and Charlie Colkett; some are still showing a bit of potential, but you'd imagine in five years time, they are not likely to be around in the Premier League. 

Al of that said, it is only natural to get a bit excited when your youth teams are doing well. We can't see the future, so we react to what's in front of us; and what's in front of Liverpool fans at present is a youth team well capable of winning trophies. 

It is possible, however, to see the promise on show while also being wary of history, and history isn't usually kind to young footballers. 

The class of 2019 should heed the warning set out by their predecessors; you're probably not going to make it, lads, so just enjoy it while you can.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)