Playing with a depleted squad due to the Carabao Cup, Neil Critchley hailed the effort of his charges in a narrow defeat.
Liverpool FC are one of the best teams in all of Europe. Full stop. And this current iteration is among the deepest the squad’s ever been. In fact, we’re seeing players like Xherdan Shaqiri, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, and Joe Gomez speak publicly about the lack of playing time available due to the level of competition in the squad. This is the type of problem you like to have.
The midweek feature in the Carabao Cup against Milton Keynes showed exactly how deep Liverpool have become – as well as how far the squad has come in terms of prioritizing particular competitions. With Liverpool in the hunt for a Premier League title and hoping to defend their Champions League win, it makes sense that the squad would see a lot of rotation against a side that is two levels below it on the English footballing pyramid.
What we saw, though, was a thoroughly composed and professional performance by what was essentially a U21 side. Winning 2-nil, Liverpool gave full debuts to the likes of Rhian Brewster, Harvey Elliott, Ki-Jana Hoever, and Caoimhin Kelleher, with the young Reds being more than up to the task.
In fact, there were rave reviews of the likes of Elliott following the match and Hoever scored his first ever Liverpool goal at first team level. Kelleher showed the skill that’s seen him pegged as a potential goalkeeping star.
There were, in short, lots of positives to draw from the performance on Wednesday. What we likely overlooked as fans, however, was that drawing so deeply from the well of our youth system meant that our U21 team was basically rendered wholly stripped. And that team had a date with Fleetwood Town at the very same time.
Neil Critchley’s side, unfortunately, came up a bit short on the night as the young side drew against the squad but lost 4-3 on penalties. Critchley, though, was positively upbeat with the result, which saw his young charges fight back from a one goal deficit to claim a point from the draw.
It seems that all of the talk of being mentality monsters has taken root in the Liverpool set up and has trickled all the way down through the Academy. Here’s hoping that these young lads are able to use this rich experience in playing at a level slightly above their development as affirmation for all of their hard work.