If you can remember that far back, take your mind back to 1997. Ask yourself if any of these names stand out prior that era in Liverpool FC history – Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher, Steve Mcmanaman, Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard. In 1997, Roy Evans was the reds manager, with the majority of these boys either just making their way into the first team or starting to show some progress in the reserves, as they were called it in those days. Had these boys not being given their chance, allowed to make mistakes and progressed under the tutorledge of Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier, Liverpool might just not have won their fifth European Cup in 2005.
On Wednesday night, reds fans caught a glimpse of a potential future. At the start of their defence of the League Cup against West Brom, Brendan Rodgers put out an almost youth team. They were marshalled by the experienced Jamie Carragher, a player how has been where these boys are and where they all want to get to. Up until now we had all been impressed by the progress Raheem Sterling was making, a seventeen year old who had been desperate for his first team opportunity and who did not flatter to deceive when it came his way at the start of this season.
Now though, there are a few more names on the list of potential future stars and it is starting to look as though Liverpool may be fortunate enough to have a rich reserve to draw on as the games mount up this season. Suso had already made his bow, impressing against Manchester United at the weekend, Andre Wisdom was another who had demonstrated his potential in the Europa League tie the previous week. Along with those two, it appears Liverpool have a number of others to add to that list.
New signing Samed Yesil last night showed his determination and skill, if not body strength just yet. He has quick feet in and around the box and once he learns how to manage the physically side of the English game he looks like he could be a real danger man up front. Dani Pacheco, a player who looked like he was on the way out of LFC in the summer, appears to be improving with every game and his trickery and aggressive forward play created a number of good opportunities for Liverpool against West Brom.
In Andre Wisdom, Liverpool have developed a real gem, a strong, quick and physical defender. It has today been suggested that he is a potential future England captain. Jamie Carragher will help to manage his expectations after that over indulgence, but he certainly looks like a player who could be at Liverpool for the next fifteen years, with the ability to play anywhere across the defence.
It must be remembered that Liverpool were playing West Brom on Wednesday night, not Manchester United. However, they did suffer a loss there in the opening game of the league season and they did come back from a goal down on Wednesday to secure progress to the next stage. Perhaps the most positive aspect of last night though, was how the players took to the formation and style Brendan Rodgers is trying to adopt at Liverpool. The game was much more open than we have seen in recent years but, as a result, Liverpool also looked much more threatening in front of goal.
The second thing to remember is that Liverpool have seen young players with potential come and go in the past, leaving to a lower division club or to a foreign club and failing to achieve the level we expected of them. This is where Rodgers will come into his own. As he showed at Swansea, he has the ability to turn young men into highly valuable, and consistent, Premier League performers. This is a quality, or focus, we have not seen at Anfield since the days of Roy Evans. Rafa Benitez, Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish all brought players with a reputation to the club, rather than seeking to develop a reputation for those with only potential.
Rodgers again showed his desire to give youth a chance with only ten minutes left. With Liverpool still only drawing and extra time looking like a distinct possibility the reds Manager gambled. Along with Suso, who created the move that won the match, 16 year old Jerome Sinclair made his Liverpool debut. Expecting Sinclair to make an instant impact might have been a little hopeful but he certainly did not look out of place with a couple of incisive runs last night.
So whisper it slowly, keep calm and be patient with them, but Liverpool may just have a golden generation on their hands once more. Robinson, Wisdom, Coates, Suso, Pacheco, Yesil, Sinclair, Sterling look like names we might just be talking about again in fifteen years time. At a cost of £10million for an average player these days, Liverpool might also have had a good reason for keeping a lock on the Anfield wallet during the summer transfer window.