November 27, 2020

Michael Edwards explains why Liverpool training ground move gives Jurgen Klopp a new advantage – Liverpool Echo

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/michael-edwards-liverpool-training-ground-19295046

Liverpool’s sporting director, Michael Edwards, has opened up on the influence of Melwood at the club’s new AXA Training Ground.

The Reds moved to their brand new training ground on Tuesday after ending a 70-year stay at their historic West Derby home last week.

Liverpool believe the £50million base will rival any other in world football and will put them on solid ground for decades as they continue to take sizable strides forward both on and off the pitch.

Edwards played a part in helping with the aesthetics of the AXA Centre, giving input alongside manager Jurgen Klopp and Academy director Alex Inglethorpe.

Edwards’ role drew praise from managing director, Andy Hughes, as the club officially opened the doors at the Kirkby venue.

Liverpool enlisted the help of London architects, KSS – who oversaw the development of the Main Stand in 2016 – and studied the work that went into similar projects at Brighton and Tottenham.

Anfield chiefs also researched the details of Hoffenheim and, in particular, Red Bull Salzburg’s training complexes, as they sought to ensure the new home would be one of the finest on the continent.

The Reds, though, couldn’t move from their famous Melwood base without providing a nod to the past, says Edwards in a rare interview with the club’s official website.

Edwards said : “The flow of the building was also important to me, I wanted to make sure the walkways we have at Melwood translated to the new building.

“The fact that the players can walk up the main stairs and still walk past and pop in to see (head of player care) Jane [Griffiths], or (first-team operations manager) Ray [Haughan], or Jurgen or me, is important.

“I believe that helps with the feeling of togetherness and support, so we were keen to keep as much of those elements as possible.”

Liverpool were initially aiming to move in July before construction on the grounds was halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Contractors McLaughlin and Harvey ceased work at the end of March as a result of COVID-19 but dispatched smaller workforces to the base in May when Government guidelines declared it safe to do so.

And after seeing the plans finally come to fruition some 722 days after construction began on the site, revered sporting director Edwards revealed his pride.

“Naturally, turning the vision into a physical reality is such a good feeling,” he added.

“To think that you have been part of the history of the club and helped better people’s environment is very satisfying.

“I think it’s a proud moment for a lot of the staff. Many different people have worked on this project and I hope this building will serve the staff and players of Liverpool for the next 50 years and beyond.

“Melwood was such an iconic place and hopefully Kirkby will become the same.”

Edwards also explained the “split” between Academy and first-team sections of the Kirkby complex and how Liverpool’s young talent will be able to see the destination they are all aiming for.

And crucially, it will be much easier for Klopp to see them too.

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Edwards said: “Once you get to the new building you haven’t ‘made it’. You are close, but you then need to earn the right to train on the first-team side as the building is split.

“This is the last step and the most difficult one, but with Jurgen here and the culture of the owners you will always have the opportunity to stake your claim if you work hard enough. Looking to the Academy for solutions is something the club will always do.

“The fact that Jurgen can now stand on the balcony here and watch the U23s or U18s train, or walk up to see a game or session outside of training means it can only strengthen relationships and maybe put someone on his radar even earlier than before.

“Since he came in he has had a passion for wanting to know who is next – now he will be able to see maybe that little bit earlier than before.”