Millennium Post

Introducing Steven Gerrard — the manager

The legend has spent five months in charge of Liverpool's Under-18s - a period in which he has learnt plenty and only lost once competitivelySteven Gerrard, without hesitation, leans forward and circles back to that "unacceptable" Saturday afternoon in early August; to those 45 minutes that turned his stomach to be "second best all over the park."

He is selecting his defining moment as Liverpool Under-18s manager, and speeds past the successes of the last five months, pinpointing the 4-2 pre-season defeat to Leicester City as the stimulant behind his league leaders being perched above both Manchester clubs and Everton.
"That was the making of us as a group," the 37-year-old says in the Lecture Theatre at the Academy's base in Kirkby, a room in which he usually details his tactical thinking.
"Although we got beat 4-2 — well beat, comfortably beat — it could have been worse. I actually felt I needed that - and the group needed that - to connect and to come together at the start of the season.
"The timing of it was perfect. I think if that didn't happen and we beat Leicester, that Leicester performance would have happened a couple of weeks later and we wouldn't be sitting where we are now. The timing was very, very lucky. The players probably think that was one of the worst days we had as a group but for me it was probably the best.
"We had a meeting about 45 minutes to an hour after it to talk about where we were. It was with the players. That was the meeting where we could all open up and say, 'Look this is where we are, we've done pre-season, we are at this level and I want you up here so how are we going to get there?'"
The 'everyone is responsible for everything' ideology, as evidenced in the collective action described above, is a core tenet under Jurgen Klopp at Melwood and flows through Gerrard's reflection of his tenure thus far.
Having initially assumed a floating role at the Academy in February, his own sense of accountability has been heavily amplified since succeeding Neil Critchley at the helm of the U18s. Not unexpectedly so, either, as before returning to Liverpool, the club legend sought Klopp's counsel on making the switch from a man who defined a generation to one determined to shape the future generation.
The German spelt out that the only way to truly understand, appreciate and feel the full function of management was to have ownership of a team.
"I'm definitely feeling it," he laughs while recounting the advice. "I've aged about two years in six months! He said to me, 'I only want you to shadow for a short period of time because you need to have a couple of years of making mistakes, of picking your own team, you need to decide tactics, you need to find your philosophy, a way of playing, you need to deal with individual problems, you need to praise individuals, you need to try to help individuals, you need to feel disappointment and set backs and then after a couple of years, you'll know if this gig is for you'.
"He was painting a real picture of how it really is and you don't get that when you shadow because someone else feels all that but the last four or five months I'm feeling all the highs and lows, and I'm experiencing all the daily stuff that managers do deal with. Albeit it is at a youth team level but I am learning from it all now."

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