Academy Director Inglethorpe signs new long-term deal with Liverpool
Written by Training Ground Guru — August 20, 2022
LIVERPOOL Academy Director Alex Inglethorpe has signed a new long-term contract with the club after almost a decade’s service.
Inglethorpe, who will be speaking at TGG’s Youth Development Conference on September 20th, joined Liverpool from Tottenham in December 2012. He started off as Under-21s boss before being appointed Academy Director in 2014.
Speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Inglethorpe said: “I’ve trusted the club from the moment I walked in the door. It’s Liverpool Football Club - you have to be careful if you choose to leave.
“Like many people, I think this is probably the pinnacle. My primary role is to be around the players and to help them. It’s a privilege and an honour. Every day I feel very lucky to be getting out of bed and working with the staff that I am and working with the players that I’ve got.
“It really isn’t much of a decision. Like most people, I spent the best part of 20 years trying to get here and when you’re here you don’t really want to leave. I think that’s probably true for a lot of players too.”
Sporting Director Julian Ward added: “The work that has taken place at the Academy over a long period speaks for itself and Alex has been fundamental to everything that has been achieved, so it is really good news that he will continue in a role in which he excels.
“The demands placed on an Academy Director are significant – we want players to develop as sportsmen and as people, we want players to come through to the first-team squad, we want our youngsters to be given the best possible care, support and guidance – and, again, Alex has proven himself to be a leader in these fields and many more besides.
“In recent years, the progress of Academy talent towards the first-team environment and making their mark in the wider professional game is testament to the expertise and input of our Academy coaches and practitioners across the age groups. For this to happen, of course, a positive working culture has to be in place and under Alex this has always been the case.
“So Alex extending his commitment to Liverpool made perfect sense. The good thing is it made perfect sense for him too, which means he can continue this work, which will undoubtedly be of great benefit to us as a club and to the young footballers who we are entrusted with developing.”
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
The value of the work at Liverpool's Kirkby Academy was again clearly evident last season, as graduates Caoimhin Kelleher, Tyler Morton, Neco Williams, Conor Bradley and Kaide Gordon all made an impact with the first team.
Inglethorpe explained: “We’re certainly not a charity, we’re a business, I don’t hide behind the fact that we’ve got a business element to the club and rightly so.
“So the easiest and most linear way to justify our existence is to create hopefully a Trent or a Curtis or a Caoimhin to go into the first-team squad and play their part, which of course means the first team don’t have to buy someone to perform that role.
“The second way is if a player gets close but doesn’t quite make it here and we end up selling that player – a Kevin Stewart, a Rafa Camacho, a Rhian Brewster, Harry Wilson, Ryan Kent.
“If we win a Youth Cup or a Uefa Youth League game, I never expect a phone call or a text (from the owners). But the minute someone plays in the first team I will always get a phone call or a text saying ‘thank you’ and there is also gratitude for developing players who go on to enjoy a career elsewhere.
“This is because we have given them a pathway but also because we have generated revenue that can then be reinvested. It’s always in terms of ‘we’ve been able to do this with this money’. It’s fantastic because it gives everyone a real purpose – this is what we do.
“We take great pride in filling the Football League with players who have come through our Academy. They may not be something that shows up on the bottom line of a spreadsheet but there’s a huge sense of pride when you see boys playing in the Football League.
“Finally there’s the boys where football just isn’t for them for whatever reason. We take a real pride in hearing the stories of boys who go on to be successful doing what they do, irrespective of whether that’s in football, industry, education, or whatever it might be.
“It’s always a special moment when you see someone put the jersey on and walk out. I’ve become a little bit better at enjoying the moment rather than to project ahead and worry about what’s next, how they’ll get in the team again etc.
“I probably get more emotional about how their families will feel because that’s often 10-plus years of driving them in four times a week, sometimes with a sibling dragged in as well, sometimes enlisting the help of nan or grandad as well.
“I think there’s an awful lot of support to get the boys to that point of putting on the jersey. We always encourage the boys to recognise the people who have helped them on that journey. It’s always a collection of coaches, different voices along the way.
“That moment is a really magical moment for people – if that is the best moment of your footballing life then that’s fantastic because not many people will be able to say that, it really is set aside for a very special few."
Inglethorpe said his job was also to look ahead and that it will become tougher than ever for players to make the jump from Academy to first team.
“The challenge is now tougher," he said. "In 10 years here the squad is stronger, with greater depth than I can ever remember. Would Trent come through now? The 18-year-old version of Trent probably wouldn’t get past the 23-year-old version of Trent because the later version is so much more complete.
“So the 18-year-old would have to do it a different way. That’s a really good challenge but a tough one, the level now is just so high, the competitions we’re winning, the points the first team are getting, the legacy they’re creating. So to get someone ready to be able to go in and play there is a far greater challenge than it was 10 years ago.”