Could Liverpool v2.0 Mirror their Rivals Class of 92?

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Liverpool’s Next Generation: Echoing the Class of ’92?

I grew up in the 1980’s, which means by the time the tremendous decade thereafter rolled around, I was old enough to be engaged in football and fully appreciate the game. As a lifelong Liverpool fan, I have spent half my existence watching Manchester United routinely beat the Reds to league title after league title, as they ate away at the silverware division, previously prominent between the two English giants. The game-changing appointment of Alex Ferguson to the Old Trafford hot seat was in 1986, after his singular year as Scotland’s national team boss. The fiery Glaswegian had previously achieved unbelievable success as the manager of Aberdeen, where overperformance saw an incredible three league titles won, four Scottish Cups, a League Cup, the UEFA Cup Winners Cup, and a UEFA Super Cup. That tenure was remarkable and in a footballing multiverse, it would have been incredible to see him replace his former teammate, Kenny Dalglish, as Liverpool manager in 1991, ahead of another famous Scot, Graham Souness.

The Legacy of Ferguson’s Manchester United

The class of 92 is now a famous tale of young academy graduates who transformed Manchester United a particular phase of Ferguson’s early reign. Within that period, many legendary Red Devils were either being ushered out the door, or prepped to do so. To the credit of Fergie, apart from a few key additions, much of the regeneration faith was placed in the emerging youth from their former training ground, The Cliff. That famous group of players (listed below) have now long since retired, yet their wonderful story and accomplishments will live on and be told through the footballing generations.

Ryan Giggs
Debut – 1990 (17-years-old)
Signed from – Promoted through the academy.

Paul Scholes
Debut – 1994 (19-years-old)
Signed from – Promoted through the academy.

David Beckham
Debut – 1994 (aged 19-years-old)
Signed from – Tottenham Hotspur in 1991, before progressing through the Manchester United academy.

Gary Neville
Debut – 1992 (17-years-old)
Signed from – Promoted through the academy.

Phil Neville
Debut – 1995 (18-years-old)
Signed from – Promoted through the academy.

Phil Neville
Debut – 1992 (17-years-old)
Signed from – Promoted through the academy.

In closing (as this is not a Manchester United appreciation piece), those players staggered promotion allowed the likes of Paul Ince, Marks Hughes, Andrei Kanchelskis, and Neil Webb, to be sold on, with replenishment being more than aided from within. There were of course some notable signings to supplement that endeavour, as legends Eric Cantona and Roy Keane were both signed in during that time. Despite this, the migration of recruits with promising youth created a dynasty of success, which remains unmatched in the era of the Premier League.

The tarnished accomplishments of Manchester City and Chelsea cannot be compared, due to the financial irregularities that will always tarnish their own supposed success.

Liverpool’s Potential to Foster Homegrown Talent

I have always been a keen advocate for the promotion of youth, though only when it is earned and positively impacts the club. I have witnessed the promotion of Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher, and Steven Gerard, who all arrived on the Anfield scene as novice graduates. Most of those were names that you heard of due to their exploits in the underage sides, but with just four television channels (back then), no social media, and just teletext to garner Liverpool FC related news, the first sight of each was often when they made their full debuts. The career trajectory of each of those legends does not need any reflection, as the names merely speak for themselves.

What I am keen to look at, is whether a new crop of graduates could now be emerging within the Liverpool ranks.

Trent Alexander Arnold
Age – 25-years-old
Playing positions – RB / CM / CDM / RWB
Debut – 1990 (18-years-old)
Signed from – Promoted through the academy.

Verdict – World class and about to evolve into something even more special. As the older variant of those listed below, he can lead the next generation over time and become a firm contender for all individual honours. The experience and breathtaking talents of the England star, make him an asset that Liverpool v2.0 will be built around, as a firm favourite of whoever takes over.

Curtis Jones
Age – 23-years-old
Playing positions – CM / CDM / LM / RM
Debut – 2019 (18-years-old)
Signed from – Promoted through the academy.

Verdict – Though the backend of last season was very impressive, that was within a horrid campaign amongst many underperforming midfielders. This 2023/24 season has seen the local lad become perhaps the most important player in the middle ground, as his intelligence and off-ball work now match his brilliant on-ball talents. He is destined to play a key role for the next Liverpool manager and will soon be a regular for his country.

Harvey Elliott
Age – 20-years-old
Playing positions – RW / LW / CM
Debut – 2019 (16-years-old)
Signed from – Fulham in 2019, before progressing through the Liverpool academy.

Verdict – The young England under-21 international is a fully-fledged member of the Liverpool first-team squad, with equal measures of talent and energy. The attacking instincts of the left-footed player will certainly see him as part of v2.0.

Stefan Bajčetić
Age – 19-years-old
Playing positions – CM / CDM / RB / RCB / RWB
Debut – 2019 (16-years-old)
Signed from – Celta Vigo in 2020, before progressing through the Liverpool academy.

Verdict – The young Spanish under-21 international had a marvellous run in the first team last season before injuries and growing pains brought a halt to his impressive rise. There are huge hopes for this gifted midfielder, who will surely make his mark on what comes next.

Jarell Quansah
Age – 21-years-old
Playing positions – RCB / LCB
Debut – 2023 (20-years-old)
Signed from – Promoted through the academy.

Verdict – The absolute find of the season and a player who will continue to improve alongside his captain, Virgil van Dijk. The 6ft 3inch defender seems to have every chance of becoming a key part of the next manager’s plans, which is ideal for both the player and the unknown incoming head coach.

Conor Bradley
Age – 20-years-old
Playing positions – RB / RWB
Debut – 2021 (17-years-old)
Signed from – Dungannon Swifts F.C. in 2019, before progressing through the Liverpool academy.

Verdict – The young Northern Irishman has all the tenacity and ability to become a brilliant player for both club and country. There appears to be a determination and commitment to his game which is evident when he plays. Much like Andy Robertson on the opposite flank, he too can use his energy and fire to have a superb Anfield career.

James McConnell
Age – 19-years-old
Playing positions – CM / CDM
Signed from – Sunderland in 2019, before progressing through the Liverpool academy.

Verdict – The young Geordie has shown great maturity and fearsome character in his limited minutes on the pitch, which will surely increase before the season ends. A wonderful assist for Curtis Jones in the 5-2 win against Norwich, most certainly proved what he can do on the ball, alongside a ferocious desire to win the ball back.

Bobby Clark
Age – 18-years-old
Playing positions – CM
Signed from – Newcastle in 2021, before progressing through the Liverpool academy.

Verdict – The son of former Newcastle player, Lee Clark, who has a lovely skillset and bright future ahead of him. A smart loan move next season will be the ideal scenario, before coming back a player ready to challenge for a place in the first team squad.

Ben Doak
Age – 18-years-old
Playing positions – RW / LW
Debut – 2023 (16-years-old)
Signed from – Celtic in 2022, before progressing through the Liverpool academy.

Verdict – The fleet-footed winger has already made a strong impression on the fanbase and his current German manager, though injury and limited chances mean a loan move next season is inevitable. A very bright future awaits.

Kaide Gordon
Age – 19-years-old
Playing positions – RW / LW / CM
Debut – 2021 (17-years-old)
Signed from – Derby in 2021, before progressing through the Liverpool academy.

Verdict – The ultra-talented attacker was once seen as the best young player in the country before a serious injury sidelined him for over a year. A slow transition back into football has seen him involved recently, though chances will be limited. A solid loan move next year should be undertaken, with the chance of a very fine career ahead.

The Path Forward for Liverpool’s Young Lions

Despite the disappointment of learning that Jürgen Klopp will be leaving at the end of this season, there is much to be appreciative of, especially when considering the wealth of young talent. Whoever the next manager and Sporting Director are, they will not only have a plethora of elite senior players, they will have a stable of young players desperately trying to push their claims for first-team chances. There was once a class of 92 that benefitted our rivals, I wonder whether Liverpool FC could repeat that remarkable feat.

Steven Smith

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