As AC Milan’s slayers join the “real world,” Liverpool has been warned to learn a severe lesson.
Learning lessons is an important element of any young player’s growth. And Liverpool’s next generation is learning about the specific challenges posed by the modern game’s unrelenting nature.
An under-23s side that included many of the players who played in the UEFA Youth League opening group game win over AC Milan four days earlier was thrashed 4-0 by Leeds United at the Academy on Sunday.
Due of coronavirus restrictions, the Liverpool kids were limited to one game per week last season. They are now being given a more regular and demanding workout.
And U23s coach Barry Lewtas believes that the Academy aspirants are becoming more aware of what they may expect when they make the step up to senior football.
Liverpool have been told that they will finish last in the Premier League this season.
“We’ve had some tough games in the last couple of weeks,” adds Lewtas, who was without Kaide Gordon and Conor Bradley, who were expected to join the first team for the Carbao Cup third round clash at Norwich City on Tuesday.
“If I’m being honest – and this isn’t an excuse since we were beaten fairly by Leeds – we had Tottenham last week, then seven of the lads played against Milan, and then five against Leeds.
“Wow, that’s a lot of work. During the COVID season, we went on a streak of just playing one game every week, which isn’t typical in the real world.
“We need to get the boys back to playing twice a week because it is something they will have to adjust to whether they go on loan or stay here.”
While the sides’ average ages were comparable, Leeds had a significantly greater number of first-team appearances, including 22-year-old Pascal Struijk, who was allowed to play in the competition despite getting sent off in the previous weekend’s Premier League clash.
The Reds had no answer for Liverpool-born 19-year-old forward Joe Gelhardt, who scored two long-range goals and was denied a hat-trick by home goalkeeper Marcelo Pitaluga’s outstanding penalty save.
“We believe our younger players will gain from,” Lewtas says.
“The summary comes to an end.”