'We're excited for the final, this club is about winning trophies'

Academy'We're excited for the final, this club is about winning trophies'

Published 4th May 2022
By Steve Hunter

Liverpool U23s hope to end an encouraging season with silverware when they face Burnley in the Lancashire FA Senior Cup final tonight.

Barry Lewtas’ side made it 10 games unbeaten when they beat Manchester United 3-1 in their final Premier League 2 game of the season on Sunday, and have suffered just one defeat in their 14 fixtures since Christmas.

After seeing off the challenge of Preston North End and Blackpool, the U23s aim to finish the campaign in style at the Lancashire FA County Ground in Leyland, with kick-off set for 7.30pm BST.

Liverpool have won the competition 12 times before, the last of which was in 2017 under Neil Critchley with a victory over Fleetwood Town on penalties.

Read on as Lewtas reflects on the result against United and the excellent form of his side, and looks ahead to the Lancashire FA Senior Cup final…

On a great way to end the Premier League 2 season with a win over Manchester United…

It was. A big game against a good team. We have been on a really good run of form, so it was a good one. We wanted to start quickly because we knew they were a good passing team and we wanted to play our way. We had a few ups and downs in the first part of the season but after Christmas we have been fantastic.

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On the header from Rhys Williams courtesy of another Ray Shearwood-led set-piece routine…

Along the course of the season, this is a big part of the game. It’s something we’ve been trying to hammer home to the lads, the importance of set-pieces. And in the second half of the season, we have been strong in these situations.

On the influence of Williams at the back since his return from a loan spell at Swansea City…

It’s very obvious from his quality as a player, as a boy and also as a leader. I think he’s really helped Jarell Quansah and Billy Koumetio, he has helped Conor Bradley and Owen Beck and the backline. Rhys has earned the right to be with the first team every day, so he sees that level and he has brought that level of maturity and experience down with him. I would also say Leighton Clarkson has also brought his loan experience with him as well, in terms of being around senior players. Those two have brought an extra level to us in terms of how we want to play and as people and characters as well. They have been superb.

On Tyler Morton’s superb display and his assist for Jack Bearne’s goal…

It was great appreciation of where Jack was, and Tyler was excellent. He could have scored himself but gave it to Jack, who is in a great run of form and he finished it superbly. Tyler and Tom Clayton in particular really pressed high in midfield and just gave us that extra layer in the first line of press.

U23s highlights: Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United

On how pleased he has been with his team since Christmas…

There were a few periods before Christmas when things weren’t terrible, but we had some really tough moments where we could have done better. But we really stuck to our guns and believed in what we were trying to do. We stuck to the process and in the second half of the season we have benefited from that. The way we play is not an easy way to play and we demand a lot of the boys. Playing under pressure and playing like that is hard, and some of them are young boys who stepped up to U23 level this season, so it took them a bit of time to acclimatise. Once we found our feet, our second half of the season has been really pleasing, against some good teams as well.

On how much he and the team are looking forward to the Lancashire FA Senior Cup final…

We are really looking forward to it. We entered this competition so we could play some senior games and play against senior players – which we got against Preston and Blackpool. Now we’ve reached the final and the boys are really excited and looking forward to it. I think when you are playing well, you always look forward to the next game anyhow. So, the lads are really fired up for it and looking forward to it.

On how nice it would be to end the U23s season with some silverware…

In reality, our job is to try to produce players for the first team – we are really clear on that and that is the job. But to play for Liverpool, you have got to get used to playing in semi-finals and finals. We are not underselling it but our boys have to get used to playing in finals for Liverpool and winning them – that’s what this club demands. It’s a cup final and we want to win it.

Published 4th May 2022