Steven Gerrard believes his players have “no excuses” as the Liverpool U18s train in perfect conditions in Budapest under the new coach’s tutelage.
The former Liverpool captain is currently going through his first pre-season as manager of the U18s and a trip to Hungary represents his first as a coach.
The standards of the facilities in Budapest impress Gerrard and he feels that his players cannot complain about the training camp as far as the quality of the facilities is concerned.
“They’re perfect, there’s certainly no excuses,” the 37-year-old told Liverpoolfc.com, when asked about the conditions in Hungary.
“The facilities are magnificent, the pitches are great, loads of water on them before the sessions so the players have got no excuses. It’s nice and warm as well, which will help them on the fitness side, so I’m really pleased.
“I think the key thing is for me to get more used to them, them to get more used to me and the coaching staff as well.
“I think the good thing about being away with them 24/7 means you can get a few more sessions and, if you like, you’re living with them so you see what they’re like around the place and you try to nail down your principles and your values that you want the team to carry out throughout the season.
“It’s a lot easier when you’re away from everything and you can really focus in on the training and everything else around it. You can have a lot more team meetings, for example, so I’m really looking forward to this week.”
Although Gerrard is happy with the conditions at their training camp, he insists the hard work is just beginning.
“I think we’re on about day 11, day 12 [since he took over] – so far, so good. We had our first friendly match where we shared the minutes out and got a nice positive win,” Gerrard said.
“The first 55 minutes of the performance were very good, there were a lot of positives [but] obviously a lot to work on – when you’re this age no player is the finished article.
“There’s loads that we’ve got to work on with them individually and as a team, but for day 12, we’re probably a little bit ahead of where I thought we’d be at this stage, so I’m really pleased with the effort and the commitment that the players have given.
“I’m very happy. We had a week’s training before the [Burton] game where we focused on principles of the game out of possession and in possession and straight away in the game we see a lot of the players trying to take those messages on board.
“The good thing is that we always get video footage of the game as well, so we can actually show them in a classroom or a team meeting, which is a really big advantage because you are trying to help them grow and evolve as footballers and there’s tons and tons of stuff to learn when you’re this age.”
In his long career with Liverpool, Gerrard took part in many pre-season training programmes but admits that there is a big difference to playing and coaching during pre-season.
“Of course it’s different when you’re a player. When you’re a player you’re in the middle of it, you’ve got responsibilities to make sure you’re right individually and as the captain of the team you try and help everyone else around you,” he explained.
“When you’re a manager, you’re on the other side of the game – you’ve got to look at tactics, at formations, what you can give to every single player to try and help them and prepare them for the top level of football.
“So it is different. I need to grow, I need to learn, I need to make mistakes and that’s what I’m really looking forward to, getting my teeth into it and trying to get more experience under your belt.”
Gerrard is clearly taking the role of being Liverpool U18s’ coach to heart and is relishing the opportunities to learn.
With many supporters dreaming of seeing their legendary club captain become the first team coach in several years’ time, the foundations of the Scouser’s coaching career are being laid.