When the final whistle pierced the air at Anfield on Sunday signalling full-time in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle, it was the same old feeling for Brendan Rodgers’ team – missed opportunities and three points dropped.
The Reds scored through sheer magic courtesy of none other than Luis Suarez (yet another reoccurring theme this season) and despite domination over Newcastle for the vast majority of the game, Liverpool had to settle for a single point.
Despite the slow start to the season and almost rhythmic manner in which the Reds dominate but fail to win, there is still a sense of a very promising future under Rodgers.
While the likes of Stewart Downing and Joe Cole are by no means extraordinary footballers, their exclusion from Liverpool sides this season isn’t down solely to their lack of ability.
Either of them would be tremendously easy to replace (if they even had suitors) given their humongous wages, but it’s a feat in itself that Rodgers has managed to do so without even having to make purchases – he’s done so in the form of talented youngsters Raheem Sterling and Suso.
First things first – Rodgers in no way deserves sole credit for the progression of these young players into Liverpool’s first team squad. In fact, it was Rafa Benitez who not only brought these players to Liverpool, but also revamped the entire youth system at the club.
And the credit doesn’t stop there; Pep Segura and Rodolfo Borrell, two coaches who have helped many of the youngsters progress from the academy to the first team, both deserve a huge amount of credit.
In the form of Cadiz-born Suso’s brilliant ball control and vision, Liverpool have a versatile, creative player. He can occupy either flank, but perhaps his future is at the tip of Rodgers’ midfield system, pulling the strings from the number 10 role.
Occupying Liverpool’s other flank is Raheem Sterling, who has been showing Downing how to actually beat a defender. The 17-year-old winger has shown the willingness and ability, through his trickery and pace, to beat defenders with ease and looks to be a Liverpool star in the making.
The pair is not alone either. Nineteen-year-old Andre Wisdom, although a centre back by nature, has put in some impressive displays at right back for Liverpool this season. Furthermore, Jonjo Shelvey, who has already been considered a senior player since his return from his successful loan spell at Blackpool in January of last season, has looked like the promising goal-scoring midfielder that the Reds seem to lack at the minute.
Throw in the promising Fabio Borini and Joe Allen, 21 and 22 respectively, and Liverpool’s two summer signings, particularly the brilliant metronome that is Joe Allen, look like they have long futures at the Merseyside club.
It’s clear that in Rodgers Liverpool have a manager who is comfortable giving young players a chance. Rodgers has brought the ethos that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough, and given the performances of Liverpool’s young talent it is hard to argue with that.
With contract extensions given to Suso and Shelvey, as well as senior players Martin Skrtel, Luis Suarez and Daniel Agger all buying into Rodgers’ vision by committing their futures to the club, the only way seems to be up for the Reds.
As the team becomes more familiar with Rodgers’ philosophy and style of play, performances on the field are likely to start becoming the results that the Reds require to move forward, and Liverpool’s youngsters have a huge role to play, not only this season, but in the seasons to come as the Reds try to reclaim their place amongst Europe’s elite.