There are few facilities in English football as historic as Melwood. It was on the pitches of Liverpool’s training ground that the great Bill Shankly introduced and refined the ‘pass and move, keep it simple’ philosophy that came to define his legend at the club.
It was here that Gerard Houllier set about bringing Liverpool into the 21st century, where Rafael Benitez persuaded Fernando Torres to make the move to Merseyside from Spain after showing him all the depictions of history on the walls and where Jurgen Klopp has educated his players over the past few years.
But Melwood has fallen behind the standards expected of a Premier League training ground over the past decade or so. Compare the facilities there to what Manchester City have at the Etihad Campus or what Tottenham have at Spurs Lodge. It’s no longer at the cutting edge of the sport.
Simon Mignolet was quick to outline this when talking about how the facilities of his new club Club Brugge measure up. “This is better than Melwood, the training ground of Liverpool, better than that of Sunderland and the training complex of the Red Devils in Tubize,” he said. “There is really nothing missing here.
“If you are present somewhere every day as a player, the defects quickly come to light. In Liverpool there was no swimming pool, in Sunderland, for example, no hotel rooms. Everything is there to get better as a player.”
Of course, Liverpool know this. They are currently in the process of leaving Melwood, with a new £50 million training ground under construction in Kirby. Mignolet’s comments underline just how important this investment will be for the club, further accelerating their growth and development over the past few years.
The new training facility will help Liverpool attract an even higher calibre of player in the transfer market and should, in theory, aid their development of young players through their academy, although City’s sprawling Etihad Campus hasn’t exactly forged a route into the first team for their youngsters.
Under FSG, almost every area of Liverpool has been modernised. There will therefore be certain symbolism to the opening of the new training ground in Kirby when it is finished. It represents one of the final big investments left for them to make in the club. But in the end, the money spent on these facilities should at some point have an impact on the pitch.
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