Liverpool: Home Is Where the Heart Is as Kirkby Academy Looks to Aid Liverpool

Antony Herbert@LeeUwishWritingAnalyst IIIApril 27, 2011

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24:  Jay Spearing of Liverpool in action during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 2nd leg match beteween Liverpool and Sparta Prague at Anfield on February 24, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

It is true that Liverpool's mid-season spending spree was a major talking point. With Fernando Torres leaving for £50 million the Kop side splashed out on instant heroes Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.

And while they have become welcome ambassadors for the return of a highly credible Liverpool team what interests me more is the re-emergence of Anfield's own academy providing future talent.

Rafa Benitez in his managerial years moved the club away from acquiring the talents of the Liverpool academy, instead settling for already renowned international players.

There is no doubt that this was the back drop behind their Champions League heroics but when the dust began to settle so did the complacency. Liverpool drifted further and further away from title glory and there was a desperate unease with the lack of home grown talent.

At one point it became a devastating possibility that introductions echoing the likes of Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard would be few and far between. Various youth players would instead break through in undramatic fashion before being shipped off to lower league teams.

Neil Mellor is a case in point. Here was a player capable of scoring magnificent goals. His youth team goal tally was impressive and he put in some impressive performances for the senior team, none more so than his substitute performance against Olympiacos in 2004.

In that game he scored one and set up another to help Liverpool achieve the impossible 3-1 victory that they needed to progress in the Champions League.

Due to the international prowess of other Liverpool strikers however he never really sustained a first team status and was shipped off to West Ham and Wigan on loan, before transferring to first Preston and then Sheffield Wednesday.

Such an occurrence was to be expected with a Premier League that had become infatuated with bringing in foreign players as opposed to nurturing localised players. 

Yet this season for Liverpool, there appears to be a change to this philosophy. Since Benitez exited, the Kirkby Academy which had previously brought us the likes of Steve McManaman as well as the aforementioned legends, began heralding some new and exciting talents that will hopefully provide a longer lasting impact.

Jay Spearing was one such player. At first his fate looked destined to follow in the footsteps of Neil Mellor and additional wasted talents like David Thompson. He had limited first team action and in 2010 was drafted over to Leicester City on loan. 

With injuries sustained to Steven Gerrard and a lack of performance coming from out of sorts Christian Poulsen however, Spearing was able to put his best feet forward and establish his name within the mindsets of Liverpool fans and critics alike. 

In his seven appearances this season he has been highly praised throughout and may now become a permanent fixture within the squad.

And not to give the team just one Kirkby graduate Liverpool now appear to have a second youngster in their midst.

Jamie Carragher is one player who has showered mountains of praise on newboy John Flanagan.

 Flanagan emerged into the team in a similar fashion to Spearing. With injuries forcing regular players Martin Kelly and Glen Johnson out Kenny Dalglish took a gamble on Flanagan by putting him in the squad which demolished Manchester City 3-0.

A new star was seemingly born. 

What this will now show is that the youth academy system in England still works. Liverpool do not have as diverse a squad as the likes of Manchester United but their acquisition of players from their youth team has yielded impressive and consistent results.

Maybe now the team will begin to steer clear of acquiring the barrage of misinformed international signings that plagued the beginning of the current season.

Instead they will opt in favour of spotting local talents that can inspire Merseysides youth and increase the potential of finding future Gerrard's and Fowlers. 

Since Gerrard's inception into the squad over 10 years ago this is something that has been incredibly lacking. Therefore Spearing and Flanagan may just have started a new era where a team may be built once more upon the foundations of the club itself. 

This essentially will be the responsibility of Kenny Dalglish and the team that works to support the club. Yet you can't help but feel that based on recent scenes it is a responsibility that the team will grasp with every opportunity.