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Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Friday, 30 April 2010 13:11 UK

Liverpool coach Borrell says academy 'was unacceptable'

By Sam Sheringham

Rodolfo Borrell
Borrell joined Liverpool in 2009 as the academy under-18 coach

Liverpool youth coach Rodolfo Borrell has revealed how surprised he was by the poor quality of the club's academy when he arrived at the club in 2009.

Borrell, who came with Jose Segura from Barcelona, believes it could take another two years before a player breaks through into the first team.

"The reality of what we found here was unacceptable," Borrell told BBC Sport.

The likes of Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen all came through the Liverpool ranks.

But since that crop of talented youngsters, the Liverpool academy has struggled to develop a regular supply of players ready for the demands of the Premier League and European football.

Striker Neil Mellor featured intermittently under Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez before being released to Preston, while full-back Stephen Warnock has gone on to play for England since leaving the Reds for Blackburn and then Aston Villa.

This season, Jay Spearing, Martin Kelly and Daniel Pacheco have been limited to occasional forays off the bench.

Benitez - who has signed highly rated Charlton midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, 18, and 15-year-old England youth international Raheem Sterling from QPR recently - says the club have a long-term plan to bring "British players with passion" to the club.

Jonjo Shelvey
Liverpool signed 18-year-old Shelvey from League One side Charlton

"(We want) players who you can feel what playing for Liverpool means to them," said Benitez,

"Shelvey is one of these and we have two or three names ready so we will try to do the best for the club.

"I was trying to sign Gareth Barry before and Glen Johnson was the same idea - we have this long-term plan in place and we will try to follow the plan."

Benitez has expressed his frustration at the lack of talent coming through and moves to restructure the youth structure began when former Liverpool winger Steve Heighway stepped down as academy coach in April 2007.

The club created a new position of academy technical manager, a post initially taken by former Ajax player Piet Hamberg before he was replaced by Segura in May 2009.

Borrell, who joined at the same time to coach the under-18s, said they have been working hard to introduce the practices that functioned to great effect at Barcelona's academy, which produced seven of the team who beat Manchester United in last year's Champions League final.

"The under-18s had no centre forward, no balance. They had no tactical level, no understanding of the game," said Borrell, who spent 13 years at Barcelona, where he worked with Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi.

"We are working hard, but you can't change things overnight.

"I think we have made a lot of progress over eight months, but we need to improve a lot more to get more players into the first team.


"I think if we keep working hard maybe in two years somebody can appear in the first team."

Liverpool's academy features players from Hungary, Iceland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Australia, but Borrell says the priority is to produce English players.

"When I arrived the first thing Rafa told me was that the biggest interest is to try to develop English players," he said.

"I agree - the best players to defend the Barca shirt are Catalan players, the best players to defend the Liverpool shirt are English players.

"The rest of the players who are not English, they must be massive, massive quality.

"We have to fight to make English players arrive. If in two or three years one of our players does make the first team, I think he will be English."

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see also
Benitez wants overhaul at Anfield
29 Apr 10 |  Europe
Liverpool swoop to sign Shelvey
28 Apr 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool sign Sterling from QPR
27 Feb 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool step up investor search
11 Apr 10 |  Liverpool
Fabregas meets his makers
29 Mar 10 |  Arsenal
Stephens joins Liverpool academy
06 Apr 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool and Ablett part company
28 May 09 |  Liverpool
Segura named Reds academy manager
16 May 09 |  Liverpool
Coach Hamberg to leave Liverpool
12 May 09 |  Liverpool
Hamberg named Reds academy boss
27 Jun 07 |  Liverpool
Heighway leaves Reds academy post
27 Apr 07 |  Liverpool

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