"What do you mean you've hurt 'your' knee, it's Liverpool's knee" - Bill Shankly.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rodolfo Borrell interview

Contrast this interview with one of the 'passionate'!!! Hodge Podge ones. Can't think of one Spanish player we've got or had who didn't see what our club was about, this guy is as clued up as the Spanish players and our ex Spanish manager. Ta very much Rafa for bringing him to our club. Oh and for bringing our new manager also. You've left the club in good hands.

In the latest column from the Academy, U18s coach Rodolfo Borrell discusses Kenny, Messi and the Ballon d'Or...

I have to say I have been completely overwhelmed by the wave of positivity that Kenny Dalglish's return to the Liverpool dugout has created.

There is a real feel-good factor reverberating around every corner of the club at the moment and it says a lot about the presence of the man.

It is no secret that Kenny is a legend for what he has achieved at this club and I have huge respect for him. That's not just down to his outstanding record of success. It is also because of what he has done for me on a personal level since I arrived here.

When I moved to England he was of great support to me and always looked to help with the biggest humility. He was the Academy's ambassador for a season and a half and I am delighted that he has been able to realise his dream of returning as the manager of the first team.

I am really happy that we have a boss who knows about the very fabric of this football club. He won countless trophies and is one of the greatest players in our history - that instantly commands respect from players, staff, supporters and everyone associated with Liverpool FC.

At his Anfield homecoming last Sunday I made sure I got to the ground early. I knew it was going to be a special day and I wanted to savour the atmosphere. I didn't want to miss one second of the reception Kenny was about to enjoy. I understood that it would be a moment I would never forget.

I wasn't disappointed either. I don't think there are a group of supporters in the world that are as passionate about their club as ours are. I have never experienced anything like Anfield. The fans are so supportive even when the team is not playing as well as they would hope.

Every time I attend a home game the fans are unbelievable because their loyal support is unwavering. That is the difference between Liverpool and all of the other clubs around the world.

You could never question the backing of that crowd. The fans are quite simply Liverpool's gold. It is occasions such as the Everton game that make me so proud to be able to say I work for this club.

In Spain you would not have a crowd so eager to assist when things do not run smoothly. That is why I try to explain to the people sitting around me that this support is not normal - it is special.

As for Kenny, well returning to the hot-seat has not changed him one bit.

He has been in charge less than two weeks and I have seen him here on at least three separate occasions.

On Tuesday he even found time to sit beside me on the bench for our U17 friendly with Shrewsbury. That's almost unheard of nowadays but it isn't anything new here. You must remember he's been doing that sort of thing since returning to the club.

Our admiration has not changed now he is the main man. We have always felt this way about him.

I am a young coach looking to improve all of the time and to be able to tap into Kenny's knowledge is invaluable. I have much to learn.

I am always striving to improve and it is massive for me to be able to call on Kenny for advice from time to time. I am very lucky to have had his support from day one, even though he may not have known how good a coach I was. I will always appreciate that.

I was also very pleased to learn that Kenny was taking some of our players for a week of training at Melwood. That is a massive step for them but it is also just as important that we keep their feet on the ground. We must choose the right individuals to go there and I think Kenny has done that.

Suso is a great talent and Conor Coady is the captain of our U18s. They both deserve their chance to train with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

When they return to us, it will be our job to ensure they understand that they must work just as hard so that one day they go to Melwood permanently.

The rest of the lads had been looking forward to Saturday's mini-derby at Everton, but unfortunately that has been postponed due to their involvement in the Youth Cup. It means we have a spare weekend which is something we do not need after the weather forced us to cancel so many games before Christmas.

With that in mind, we sought out another friendly that we played on Thursday morning.

I wanted the lads to face a real test. They have all enjoyed the good publicity following the Youth Cup wins over Notts County and Crystal Palace, as well as last week's 3-1 victory over Bolton. So, we set up a match against Accrington Stanley. They brought a mix of first-team and reserve players but unfortunately we had to settle for an eight-a-side indoor match because of the fog.

We lost the game 6-3 but I was delighted with the exercise. I think the players learn much more in this type of clash. They were physically strong and it proved to be really difficult for our lads. I wanted them to experience the problems that posed and to understand that they are far from the finished product. I think such a test will be just as beneficial as playing well and winning at Anfield in the Youth Cup. It's all about experiencing the highs and lows of football and controlling your emotions.

Finally, I would like to take a moment to congratulate Lionel Messi on his recent Ballon d'Or success.

Having coached him at a tender age I was obviously very proud to see him win and that he was on the shortlist alongside two other products of Barcelona's youth system.

I also worked with the runner-up, Andres Iniesta. Xavi had progressed by the time I arrived at the Barcelona Academy but the nominations once again highlight the great success they have had with their youth system.

It is not just down to their talent as players. It is also thanks to the hard work carried out by a lot of people who are striving towards the same goal. The result is that these world-class players are now key to the triumphs of their first team.

We are hoping to have a similar success here at Liverpool in the years ahead. Like I said in my last column, it is not about copying Barcelona. If we can nurture young players that go on to have a huge impact on our history then we will be seeing the end result of everybody's hard work.

I now feel we are all working as one at this club and we are seeing some good progress here in Kirkby. Who knows, maybe one day we will see three players who came through Liverpool's ranks up for the Ballon d'Or.

Of course, that is very much a distant dream but I can assure you that we remain 100 per cent committed to ensuring the best talent in the English game emerges here in Kirkby.

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Quote of the moment

Defying belief however, is a market Benitez has cornered quite well. The moment you think Benitez is clueless, he defies it by pulling off a result of majesty, like the one achieved in Madrid. The moment he is hailed a genius, he masterminds toothless surrender to a team going nowhere. In the ongoing Anfield power struggle, just when he was cornered by the firing squad, the Spaniard's demise at Liverpool looking practically assured with the ominous suspension of betting by the bookmakers, he squeezes out through a narrow trapdoor and eliminates Rick Parry. Rafa Benitez is Keyzer Soze.
- Just Football blog: The Curious Beast that is Football 28 Feb 2009