STEVEN Gerrard’s presence is being felt in more ways than one at Liverpool’s Kirkby Academy, the new under-23s coach Neil Critchley has revealed.
On top of his vast knowledge of the game, the former captain has brought an aura and an energy to his new role with the under 18s which young players are only going to benefit from.
Critchley, who worked closely with Gerrard during a transition phase with the young Reds last season, has noticed an absence of an ego despite his successes during his playing days.
He believes that is the reason he chose a youth-team coaching role and decided not to fast track straight into first-team management, as so many high-calibre players have done before to little success.
Critchley said: “It tells you everything you need to know about him as a person. He doesn’t think Liverpool’s under 18s are beneath him. He just wants to get his boots dirty.”
These are values and principles which Critchley, Gerrard himself, and the club as a whole, are now looking to instil into the youngsters coming through – having anything close to an ego is a no go.
As well as helping the younger lads grow into well-rounded senior footballers, Gerrard’s presence, along with the success story of Trent Alexander-Arnold, will give much-needed hope to the local academy players that becoming a success at Liverpool Football Club is an attainable target.
Throughout this process, the importance of putting the players first is absolutely paramount, and Gerrard is aware of it not becoming all about him according to Critchley.
He said: “He’s got an unbelievable passion for both the game and the club. The type of person that he is means that the players couldn’t ask for a better role model.”
In terms of Gerrard’s development as a coach, Critchley believes his work ethic is that of any football manager with serious ambitions.
“He’s out there every day. He’s in the office morning, noon, and night. Stevie has really thrown himself into it and he’s receiving a lot of support from the staff.”
Being out of the spotlight is something Gerrard must have found difficult over the years, and the current situation in the youth setup can only be beneficial to Gerrard’s development as a coach — and it seems to have added a real buzz at The Academy in Kirkby this season.
The buzz could be seen in Critchley’s face as he added: “He’s loving it. He’s absolutely revelling in it.”
He’s certainly not the only scouser loving it, and Reds fans all over are hoping for more success stories in years to come.
Quite rightly, everyone involved with the club is embracing Gerrard’s presence and there’s plenty of excitement to see the results it produces.
Gerrard’s under 18s face Newcastle United under 18s at The Academy in Kirkby on Friday evening. Kick off is at 7pm and entry is free!