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Interview with Michael Beale Part 2

Former Liverpool U23 manager and current Assistant Manager for Brazilian giants São Paulo gave an insight on Liverpool’s academy, life in Brazil, and a unique perspective on football. We checked back in with Beale after interviewing him in January.

At the Academy level you deal with players whom have just moved to a foreign country. How has coaching in Brazil helped you understand what they are going through?

Firstly, I don’t think that talent is necessarily transferable unless the clubs really try to understand the player they are buying and understand what culture they are coming from and style of football etc. In their own country a player excels because he is comfortable in his environment so for clubs it’s essential they understand this and try to give a new signing time to adapt and also work with them at each stage. I was already doing this in the past with my players so I knew the challenge I had coming here. But what has been so nice for me is that the Brazilian people both where I live and at the club, have gone out of their way to make me comfortable. It’s been a smooth process so far

Why do you think Chelsea opporates their youth system so differently than most clubs? And do you believe that their “loan army” is the way of the future?

Chelsea have had an excellent youth system for a number years and have made a dedicated effort in recent years to work on more home grown players that have been with the club from the ages of 7,8,9 years old. I was fortunate to help scout and work with a number of these players and I’m proud and excitied to see how they are developing. In regards to their loan set up, it wasn’t that way when I was at the club and therefore I can only guess that it’s a way of having a number of young talents registered with the club and then waiting until they mature to sell for a big profit. Basically buying them young for little finances and selling for a bigger profit later. But that’s just an outside view as It wasn’t this way when I was working at Chelsea. I have very fond memories of my time at the club. It has a lasting impact on my ideas.

Brazilian players are known for their creativity and footwork. Have you noticed any differences in training practices that may be responsible for this?

I think kids here play a lot more football, they practice a lot more and play on different surfaces etc. There is a number of reasons for this from culture, from having an outdoors lifestyle, from low finances which stop kids being addicted to computer games, to football being a national obsession. One thing to take in mind is that by nature Brazilians are very creative people with lots of personality. I love this side of my life here.

It is amazing to see the talent that is emerging in Brazil in terms of individual technical ability and movement mechanics.

In regards to specific training? Not really inside the professional clubs, I think elements of futsal have helped but it’s definitely a case of practicing and culture/lifestyle which is hard to replicate elsewhere in the world. That is why footballers from Brazil are so unique.

Harry Wilson has scored 28 goals for the U23 squad this campaign. Why do you think he has not been given more chances in the first team?

A year ago Harry had a difficult season with injury and missed a lot of football. However, he did make both his wales u21 debut and 7 appearances for Crewe in league one. So this year was very much about him playing regular football, staying fit and enjoying himself again. The club showed a huge commitment and faith in him with a new contract and we decided to give him the captaincy of the u23 team too. Harry has responded very well and also helped boys like Ben Woodburn settle into the group. His personal performances have led to a first team debut which is a huge accolade for any boy but especially for a boy that has been with the club since 5years old. It shows how far he has progressed this year that he is now training full time at melwood and was in the last wales full senior squad. I don’t think there is any problems with Harry’s development so far. I think it’s been hugely positive and it’s natural for a boy of his style and size to take a little longer to come through. I think everyone at Liverpool is very pleased with him.

How do you think that Liverpool’s two year tranfer ban on signingany academy player who has been registered with a Premier League or EFL club in the last 18 months will effect Klopp’s plans?

I was not aware of this until it came out in the media and therefore I’m unaware of the situation in full and how it will effect the club. One thing people should bare in mind is that players such as Wilson, Trent Alexander, woodburn, randall, Kent, Brannagan where all at the club from below the age of ten so Liverpool don’t need to rely solely on outside signings. The area is rich with talent and the u16/18s squad have enough to make up for this situation in the time-being.

At the academy level what separates the players who breakthrough to the first team versus those who do not make the mark?

The players who are obsessive with their dedication to become footballers and the ones that are aware of their football identity and working at improving it each day. The focus and drive required to make it as a footballer is very high and there is never a straight
forward route to the first team. The boys who make it through should be applauded for the journey they have come through but then – it’s important they are managed well.
People like Inglethorpe, Lijnders and Klopp are excellent at this.

Also, in the academy what gets you further; mentality or physicality? Or does it have to be a combination of both for real success?

Mentality for sure. Physicality shows its way in many ways from sheer strength to speed etc but all players that make it to a level in football do so because of their mentality. It’s something that sets people apart from others in the moments that matter in games, in your development pathway and just in general life.

What are the biggest differences that you have noticed in footballing culture between England and Brazil?

The obsession here from players, fans, media is more passionate than in England. Football is a national obsession and having players that play Beautiful football and are creative is a must. You only have to look back over the years gone past at a team of Brazilian greats to realise that something is special about Brazil. I believe that football is Brazil and Brazil is football. It’s a perfect fit.

That’s not to say their isn’t an ugly side to the obsession as the media is also very harsh on coaches and players here in Brazil. The criticism is much tougher than in England too.

How do you think your time in England will help you succeed with São Paulo?

My time in England has given me many qualities as a coach and the experiences
at Chelsea and Liverpool over 15yrs give me a unique insight into two outstanding clubs. São Paulo is the biggest and most successful Brazilian club and therefore my experiences in England have helped me because i understand the pressures of the situation, I understand the level of top players and I’ve also worked a lot with foreign players in the past. Ultimately football is football and the game is the same albeit just played in a slightly different style. 

This year has seen a handful of Liverpool’s academy players breakthrough to the first team. Having coached them, who do you believe has the most potential and who excites you the most?

It’s like asking me which one of my two sons I prefer. It’s an impossible question to answer if you understand how close I was with these boys over the last few years. I have
known and worked with them a long time. I have seen the bad days and also seen the debuts and everything in between. They are all different and will excel in their own ways. I know the academy staff are very thankful to Jurgen for giving them the opportunities. Now it’s up to them to seize them and gain more chances to play.

What are your thoughts on Liverpool’s plans to merge the first team and academy training facilities?

Great idea and will bring everything closer together. It’s always had a family feel as a club but this will make things even more smoothwhen players transition from the u23 to first team which is even more positive for the club

Klopp decided to promote from within rather than investing in the transfer market. Do you think his style makes Liverpool a more attractive option for promising academy players?

Liverpool is one of the most beautiful football clubs in the world and will always be attractive to players whatever coach is in charge. The club has a rich history in terms of style of player and development of their own players.

But yes – Jurgen Klopp is an ideal fit and certainly believes in giving young players a chance and this will excite young players for sure.

Matt Thielen
23 year old Liverpool supporter writing about the Club I love. Follow me on Twitter @MelwoodDaily
https://twitter.com/MelwoodDaily

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