Liverpool B Team Would Resolve Issues Around Loan Players at Anfield
This week saw two of Liverpool's youngsters arrive back from loan spells early, while a host of others are struggling to get any playing time at their temporary clubs.
Midfielder Joao Carlos Teixeira and forward Michael Ngoo returned from their respective spells at Brentford and Yeovil.
Teixeira, a gifted and highly-rated Portuguese player signed from Sporting Lisbon in January 2012, made just two substitute appearances during his 28 days at Griffin Park.
Bees sporting director Mark Warburton told BBC Sport, "Unfortunately we were not able to give Joao the opportunity to demonstrate his obvious talent."
Ngoo, the 6'6" striker who enjoyed a good spell on loan to Hearts last season, never made a full 90 minutes for Yeovil. He started two games, was subbed in both, including once at half-time.
Much like Teixeira, Ngoo's talent is not in question; he scored five goals in 16 appearances for Hearts. Yet his time at Yeovil has ended three months into his season-long deal.
Similarly, Adam Morgan went on loan to Rotherham back in January but appeared for a total of 101 minutes. Their boss Steve Evans had said "A lot of hard work has taken place to get this young lad to the club." It hardly seemed worthwhile, for any of the three parties involved.
Liverpool have a further nine players currently out on loan, ranging from the high-profile Pepe Reina at Napoli, talented Suso at Almeria in La Liga, to Armin Hodzic in the Bosnian Premier League.
England Under-20 captain Conor Coady is on loan to Sheffield United in League One, but he hasn't started a League game since early September.
Italian forward Fabio Borini has played 79 minutes in total for Sunderland, while winger Oussama Assaidi has had 101 minutes at Stoke—and those stats include the Capital One Cup.
There are a couple of examples of successful loans so far, namely Jack Robinson at Blackpool and the aforementioned Suso, who has four assists and a goal in eight games for Almeria.
So what's the solution to this problem?
For this, we need only to look at the words of Rafa Benitez, from 2007, reported by BBC Sport:
I would like to see reserve teams of the big clubs like ourselves playing in the Football League. Why not if they have enough quality?
Our young players may have the quality but not the experience for the first team. They are only on the bench.
That will bridge the gap between the youngsters and the first team.
If you do not give young players the chance to play competitive football and to learn things, things become impossible.
Of course, Rafa hit the nail on the head, taking inspiration from the Spanish setup where reserve teams play within the same football pyramid, but cannot be in the same division as their parent club.
For instance, Barcelona B play in the Spanish Segunda division—one tier below La Liga.
Note that there has only been one instance where a La Liga side's B team finishing in a promotion place in Segunda division in the last 20 years, therefore they are simply not promoted and the next placed side are.
With the debate about English football's development and the financial struggles of Football League sides, The Football Association could do much worse than explore the idea of bringing a similar concept to England.
Young players would be playing within a competitive environment, the focus of which would be to play with the style of play of their first team, not the win-at-all-costs attitude typical of all clubs currently in the lower divisions trying to stay afloat.
Supporters being priced out of football would also have a more affordable method to watch their club, while attendances in the lower divisions would also profit.
Over to you, FA commission...
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