New Liverpool under-18s coach Steven Gerrard is on a quest to remove a “showboating mentality” from the minds of young footballers.
The Anfield legend was officially appointed to the role on Friday, having returned to the Merseyside club earlier in the year to work with its developing players.
However, Gerrard says that the focus at the academy while he is there will be on physicality and competition – rather than trying to emulate the skills of names such as Cristiano Ronaldo.
“My teams will be physical. I see that we need that more. It is important you channel it in the right way,” he told the media.
“As a player I got many, many tackles wrong and went over the top a few times and I had to come out and apologise and that is not something I want to put into young players at all but you have to prepare them for the top and the top level is physical and demanding.
“It is not just about tackles and competing. I hate watching footballers and football when there is no physical side and they don’t compete.
“There is a showboating mentality throughout academies now and a lot of kids who play the game think they have to do 10 lollipops or Cruyff turns to stand out. We all love a bit of skill and talent but the other side of the game is huge, it is massive.
“Too many try to model themselves on players like Ronaldo when you have to look at yourself and say, ‘What are my strengths and how can I improve my weaknesses?'”
Gerrard – who made over 700 appearances during his storied Liverpool career – hopes to put the under-18 players in a better position to move up to the first team with full confidence of making an impact.
“I think a lot of them are shocked with the step up to Melwood [the first-team training base] from the academy,” he added.
“I’ve seen a lot of players who have come out of the academy with huge reputations and go into the Melwood dressing room and then it is sink-or-swim and a lot of them sink.
“I have to help these players prepare for careers, not all with Liverpool’s first team, but I feel if I can help them compete then it will help their careers depending on what level they get to.”