Neil Critchley says he is “immensely proud” of Liverpool’s young players after their performance in the 5-0 League Cup defeat at Aston Villa.
With the regular first-team squad in Qatar as they prepare for the Club World Cup, Liverpool fielded their youngest ever team at Villa Park, with the average age of the starting eleven just nineteen years and six months old.
The youthful side had some bright moments during the game and came out on top in both the possession and passing stats, but were beaten 5-0 at Villa Park thanks to goals from Conor Hourihane, Morgan Boyes (OG), Jonathan Kodjia (2) and Wesley.
Despite the scoreline, Neil Critchley, who acted as manager in place of Jurgen Klopp, couldn’t hide his pride in his players in his post-match interview, telling Sky Sports: “I thought we were magnificent from the first whistle, the start to the game we made was fantastic.
“We had a couple of chances, we were there from the first moment and we were really unfortunate to concede from a free kick and then a cruel deflection. You find yourself 2-0 down and you’re thinking we’ve actually played well at that point.
“For long periods of the game I thought we were well in the game but you get the harsh reality of what you’re facing and we got that. We ran out of legs and steam in the second half which was understandable but it was an incredible night and I don’t think any of us wanted it to end”.
When asked what he thought the experience of playing in the fixture would do for the academy players who took to the field, Critchley added: There’s still steps to make, obviously, but I think some of them showed that in the future there’s a potential for some of them to hopefully play for us or play in the Premier League or at least have a career in football.
“They know that this was just a part of their journey tonight. There will be ups and downs along the way and tonight was probably more an up than a down, it was enjoyably tough but my overriding feeling was one of immense pride tonight”.