By Matt Farr
Club legend Steven Gerrard has urged Liverpool’s academy talent not to succumb to the expectation of the first-team at Anfield.
Liverpool confirmed on their official club website on Thursday that Gerrard was set to take charge of the Under 18’s side next season, and he marked his appointment with a firm message of advice to the club’s next generation.
The 36-year-old has been there and done it all in Merseyside, as he embarks upon a new chapter of his Liverpool love-affair, which already spans 17 years.
He has endured the highs and lows as both an academy prospect and as a first-team regular, and as a result, can have a key influence on the development of the club’s promising young talent.
Ahead of his new role as Under 18’s manager, Gerrard warned his colleagues about the massive step up from the academy to the first team, urging them not to get too comfortable.
He told the Telegraph: “I’ve seen a lot of players who have come out of the academy with huge reputations and go into the Melwood dressing room and then it is sink-or-swim and a lot of them sink. A lot of them are shocked with the step up to Melwood from the academy.
“There is a case where they get a little bit too much, too soon and they sort of get into that comfort zone of working in a lovely place. Then it is a big shock for them when they to move on or get released.
“What you have to drive into the players is that while they are here you have to make sacrifices and give it their best. Don’t get too comfortable because the hard work starts when you get out of the academy.”
The former midfielder returned to his beloved club in February as an academy coach, but is set to step up to replace current Under 18’s chief Neil Critchley, who will take charge of the Under 23s.
Current Under 23’s coach Mike Garrity, meanwhile, will join part of Critchley’s backroom team.
A number of academy stars have already made a successful transition into the first-team setup this season, including Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold.