Despite a heavy defeat for the Liverpool youngsters, coach John Crithley is adamant it was a positive learning experience for the prosperous footballers. He reported Aston Villa management Dean Smith and John Terry also gave recognition of the efforts for the team who’s age averaged at 19 years.
So with what seemed like a positive event for all, should this be something we see more regularly?
It is possible to argue that this type of event will have mixed impact on the players, potentially it is the personality and mindset of the youngsters which could make or break this experience. With any big game, especially a cup knockout, any player would be nervous in the run up. Whilst entering the latter stages of the game, a handful of the boys were going down under cramp and evidently at peak of fatigue. The expectations and nerves in the build up of the game would have been exhausting in itself, on top of the boys playing an intense 90 minutes on a big Villa Park pitch which would likely be a size they would not be used to. With this is mind, playing youth team footballers on a big stage against a first team may potentially have negative effect on the players. Wether this be crumbling under pressure, or reflecting negatively on their performance following the game. A risk managers would have to take to see which players would be strong enough to take defeat on such a scale.
Opposed to this risk, there is also huge potential for the young players in games such as this. Not only do the players gain intense exposure to other clubs who may be recruiting, but it gives opportunity to the coaching staff to understand improvements which can be made for their players. To think of it in ‘real world’ terms, it almost comparable to the apprentice against the professional. It can be suggested this sort of game could be very good way to give young footballers a taste of the big time.
In the Leasing.Com League cup, it has already been seen to have the Premier League youth teams play against lower tier sides in knockout games. This has appeared to have been successful to test the younger players against teams with less quality, but teams which have more experienced players. Lower leagues tend to flourish with physicality of the game which can teach the younger players to do so. With prospect to become professional footballers, this is an attribute which will reinforce their footballing identity. We could be seeing a new generation of young footballers breaking through if they come through the ranks whilst playing against professional league competition.
Do you think we should be seeing more younger players getting playing time in Cup competitions?