Steven Gerrard declared himself a very happy coach after seeing his U19 side produce a superb display to beat Sevilla 4-0 in their opening UEFA Youth League game at Prenton Park.
Scouser Curtis Jones bagged a double, with Herbie Kane and Conor Masterson also among the goals, and the former Liverpool captain was delighted with the way his team executed their game plan against the Spanish outfit.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more really in terms of what the players gave the club and the game plan myself, Neil Critchley and the staff asked them to carry out, and they took it out perfect,” Gerrard told Liverpoolfc.com.
“I thought we were very aggressive without the ball, we were very compact and difficult to play against.
“The energy, the pace and the quality we had on the break was fantastic to see and at the other end we kept a clean sheet. Our goalkeeper had to make a couple of good stops but I thought it was a terrific all-round performance.
“I bet you if you asked Sevilla’s players at the end of the game how that went they would say it was hell for them!”
Throughout the 90 minutes, the pressing of the players and their speed on the counter-attack was very much reminiscent of Jürgen Klopp’s first team.
Gerrard added: “Everyone looks up to the first team in terms of players and staff and we do try and emulate them in certain areas, but you’ve also got to take into consideration these are young lads and they are not ready to do what first-team players do just yet, and that’s the reason why they are still here [at the Academy].
“But the amount of talent and energy [we showed] and how lethal and deadly we were on the counter-attack, we knew we had that in the team before the game, and that’s the reason we had a game plan of trying to get them to pass through the middle of us.
“We knew we would win the ball back in really good areas and with the likes of Rhian Brewster, Ben Woodburn, Curtis Jones and Liam Millar on the break we knew we were going to hurt them.”
LFCTV GO: Gerrard reflects on 4-0 win
With an away trip to Russia to face Spartak Moscow next up for the young Reds on September 26, Gerrard is refusing to get carried away in terms of what his group can achieve in the UEFA Youth League this season.
“It’s early days,” he said.
“All it is at the moment is it’s a very good start, a very positive clean sheet, and we are scoring goals heavily.
“The challenge now for the players is can we build on it, can we take all the positives from this one into our next game?
“The good thing is we’ve got a strong bench and we’ve got players coming back pushing for places and that can only be healthy.
“The players who had the first XI shirts [against Sevilla] did everything they can to keep hold of them, so myself and Neil have got some big decisions to make moving forward.”