Steven Gerrard is quietly honing his craft as manager of Liverpool’s under-18s at present, a make-or-break age group.
As a player he won the FA Cup (twice), the Champions League and UEFA Cup while staying loyal to the Reds for his entire career. There’s no doubt, then, that the little nuggets of information he can pass onto the next generation will be crucial for their progress.
The 37-year-old does, however, feel that nowadays the bar set for youngsters to break straight into a Premier League first team is exceptionally high.
Speaking to The Guardian, the Liverpool native explains the reasons behind why the gap between academy and first team football may be growing.
“Clubs are a lot richer so can go out and buy players for big money,” he says.
“Ten or 15 years ago you could get through if you were a decent footballer. Now you’ve got to be sensational to get in and stay in.
“I look at the players on the fringes like Brewster, [Manchester City’s Phil] Foden and [Dominic] Solanke.
“They are good but can they go to the next level so that when they get in, they stay in? The standards are higher than they were all those years back.”
The time Gerrard references above is, of course, his introduction to the adult game, having begun his first team career with Liverpool all the way back in 1998.
While the money that now washes around the Premier League had yet to be seen at that point, it was still an extremely lucrative league and there were chances for Gerrard and co. to make a name for themselves on the biggest stage.
Now in charge of the next generation of players who will want to emulate his successes, Gerrard says he is yet to be scared off the prospect of management at a higher level judging by what he’s experienced so far.
“For the last five months I’ve felt all the highs and lows and experienced all the daily stuff that managers deal with, albeit at youth-team level.
“It will definitely prepare me for wherever I end up. It is not scaring me or putting me off. I know the further I go there is more scrutiny, more attention, more opinions, more criticism, more praise. I get all that.
“For me it was important to get a taste of it away from the cameras and experience all these things before you go into the madness.”
Given his attitude to the game as a player, it will be very interesting to see just how he fares once he inevitably moves up the managerial ladder.
Success as a player is no guarantee when it comes to management, but it does appear as though Gerrard is going about it the right way, building up his experience at a lower level before he can test himself somewhere where more scrutiny is involved.
The ex-LA Galaxy man’s under-18s are currently unbeaten this season and top the Premier League table at that age grade.