LIVERPOOL — Liverpool under-23s manager Neil Critchley says Steven Gerrard has “thrown himself” into management and that the former club captain taking charge of the U18s shows his lack of “ego.”
After retiring as a player in November, Gerrard took his first steps into coaching when became a coach at Liverpool’s Kirkby academy in January before becoming manager of the U18s this summer.
Before rejoining Liverpool, Gerrard had the chance to manage League One side MK Dons, but turned the job down as he felt it came “a bit soon.”
Critchley told reporters: “So far, from when you speak to him and see him on the training pitch, he’s loving — absolutely revelling in — the role.
“First and foremost, he’s got an unbelievable passion for the game and this football club. The type of person that he is — in terms of his value and principles — I don’t think the boys at this club could have a better role model than Steven.
“[It] tells you all you need to know about him as a person. There’s no ego. He doesn’t think that Liverpool’s U18s is beneath him. He actually thinks it’s a challenge. He could have walked into many first-team jobs, but he felt he wanted to go and get on the grass and get his boots dirty.
“The fact he’s working at U18s level [shows] he wants to go beneath the radar a little bit, which is very difficult when your name is Steven Gerrard.”
Critchley said Gerrard, one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players, is matching the levels of dedication shown by other coaches at the academy.
“It’s not for show, it’s not for media. It’s for himself,” Critchley, who was promoted following Gerrard’s appointment, added. “He’s out there every day.
“He’s in the office like we are everyday — in the morning, afternoon and night. He’s preparing like a normal coach would be.
“From what I’ve seen so far, he’s thrown himself right into it. He’s getting good support from some of the staff around him. He’s loving what he’s doing.”
Meanwhile, Critchley expects Brazilian youngster Allan to head out on loan again as work-permit issues continue to restrict his Liverpool career.
The 20-year-old joined from Porto Alegre in 2015 but has yet to appear for the Premier League club, having had temporary spells time with SJK in Finland and Sint-Truiden in Belgium before spending last season with Hertha Berlin.
“He won’t be with us because of work-permit issues,” Critchley said. “He has been with a little bit for preseason, but his situation is going to be very similar to last season where he could possibly be going out on loan somewhere — I’m not sure where that is at the moment.”
Critchley added that Harry Wilson, 20, is another Liverpool prospect who could leave temporarily at some point this season.
Wilson, who is recovering from an Achilles injury, scored 28 goals for the U23s last term, but was only given 25 minutes of first-team action.
“Harry has had an unfortunate preseason. It’s been interrupted by injury,” Critchley said. “I’m not sure how close he is to a return.
“When he returned a couple of weeks ago, he had a setback. The first port of call for Harry is to get fit, stay fit and build up his fitness. If that means he’s playing games for us then great. [But] I’m sure at some point he’s going to be wanting that first-team exposure — whether that’s here or out on loan somewhere.”
Glenn is ESPN FC’s Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.