By Scott Taylor
Michael Beale has called on his Liverpool Under-21s side to remain motivated, ahead of their mini Merseyside derby against Everton tonight. The Reds are in fifth place in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League, level on points with sixth-placed Everton.
Speaking to liverpoolfc.com before the game, he said that his team need to find a balance between playing aggressively and maintaining their style of play. He told liverpoolfc.com: “I think form goes out of the window in these games and sometimes composure too, so I want us to be really focused and determined but at the same time I don’t want us to lose our identity. It’s important we keep playing in that style by playing some excellent attacking football.”
He also explained that it’s usually the younger pIayers in the derbies who struggle in the big games, and Beale wants his team to also show maturity. He continued: “In recent games we’ve played against Everton we have lacked a little composure and when you are young it’s how you use that excitement and how you can control it.”
One of those recent games was the 1-1 draw with the Toffees at Southport’s Merseyrail Community Stadium in April 2014, and Beale would like to see his players take in the experience and think about the game in order to improve the spectacle.
“I thought the pitch was very difficult at Southport that night as it was very dry and bobbly. We had two teams who were hugely committed but the game lacked quality because the players were overexcited, so I’d like to see us control ourselves a little bit more.”
Despite lying just four places but three points behind league leaders Manchester United, Beale has stressed that his aim of giving his players a career in football rather than winning youth titles. Even with their promising league position, Beale has told his side not to get carried away.
“With the amount of players we have sent out on loan this season I think we have been clear where our focus is, which is about giving boys a career, hopefully with Liverpool . What I would say is we are three points off the top but also four points off relegation, so it’s a strange league this year with teams beating each other. It was a nice sign last Monday when we had 10 or 11 of the regular U21 squad missing and we got a great result against Chelsea.”
Beale ended the interview by paying tribute to his city rivals, suggesting that the region should be proud rather than just one club. However, he is still hoping to win the game because the league is all that the young Reds have left to play for.
“Fair play to Everton and we have a lot of respect for them. They have got some excellent young players who are well-known on Merseyside and we can both be proud in the North West seeing what good young players both clubs have got. There’s a big focus on the U21 games now as, unfortunately, we are out of the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League, and playing a game every week now gives the boys a lot to work for,” he said.