Steven Gerrard regards Liverpool U18s' pre-season training camp as an ideal opportunity to learn more about his players while they become accustomed to his coaching methods.
The Reds’ U18s and U23s squads travelled to Hungary on Sunday for a week-long stay that forms part of their preparations for the 2017-18 campaign.
The trip represents Gerrard’s first as a manager, with the legendary ex-Liverpool captain having officially started his role as U18s boss at the start of this month.
Gerrard has been impressed with the standard of the facilities in Budapest and is relishing the chance to spend plenty of time working with his team both on and off the training pitch before their friendly against Rapid Vienna U19s on Saturday.
“They’re perfect, there’s certainly no excuses,” the 37-year-old told Liverpoolfc.com, when asked about the conditions in Hungary.
“The facilities are magnificent, the pitches are great, loads of water on them before the sessions so the players have got no excuses. It’s nice and warm as well, which will help them on the fitness side, so I’m really pleased.
“I think the key thing is for me to get more used to them, them to get more used to me and the coaching staff as well.
“I think the good thing about being away with them 24/7 means you can get a few more sessions and, if you like, you’re living with them so you see what they’re like around the place and you try to nail down your principles and your values that you want the team to carry out throughout the season.
“It’s a lot easier when you’re away from everything and you can really focus in on the training and everything else around it. You can have a lot more team meetings, for example, so I’m really looking forward to this week.”
Gerrard’s first game in charge of his new side ended in a comprehensive 7-0 friendly win over Burton Albion at St George’s Park last Friday.
But while the former No.8 is satisfied with the progress he’s seen during the early stages of his reign, he insisted the hard work is only just beginning for all involved with the U18s.
“I think we’re on about day 11, day 12 [since he took over] - so far, so good. We had our first friendly match where we shared the minutes out and got a nice positive win,” Gerrard said.
“The first 55 minutes of the performance were very good, there were a lot of positives [but] obviously a lot to work on - when you’re this age no player is the finished article.
“There’s loads that we’ve got to work on with them individually and as a team, but for day 12, we’re probably a little bit ahead of where I thought we’d be at this stage, so I’m really pleased with the effort and the commitment that the players have given.
“I’m very happy. We had a week’s training before the [Burton] game where we focused on principles of the game out of possession and in possession and straight away in the game we see a lot of the players trying to take those messages on board.
“The good thing is that we always get video footage of the game as well, so we can actually show them in a classroom or a team meeting, which is a really big advantage because you are trying to help them grow and evolve as footballers and there’s tons and tons of stuff to learn when you’re this age.”
Gerrard, of course, was part of numerous pre-season training camps during his time as a player, and he acknowledged that he is still familiarising himself with his duties as a manager on such trips.
“Of course it’s different when you’re a player. When you’re a player you’re in the middle of it, you’ve got responsibilities to make sure you’re right individually and as the captain of the team you try and help everyone else around you,” he explained.
“When you’re a manager, you’re on the other side of the game - you’ve got to look at tactics, at formations, what you can give to every single player to try and help them and prepare them for the top level of football.
“So it is different. I need to grow, I need to learn, I need to make mistakes and that’s what I’m really looking forward to, getting my teeth into it and trying to get more experience under your belt.”