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21st May 2019

John Barnes: We weren’t coached at Liverpool

Jack O'Toole

Former Liverpool winger John Barnes said players were not coached when he was a player at the club.

Barnes spent a decade at Anfield and won two first Division League titles as well as two FA Cup winners medal during his time with the club but said on Ireland Unfiltered last week that there was a culture at the club to just try and win on the weekend.

“At Liverpool what they did was you always learned from the senior players,” said Barnes.

“As a young player you learn from the senior players because at Liverpool they don’t coach you, they allow you to use your initiative to be the player you are. That is why they never had lots of young players at Liverpool.

“Why Manchester United were successful with the kids was because Alex Ferguson influenced them on and off the field which is what young players need. I got my influence from Graham Taylor, Peter Beardsley, Ray Houghton, any of the players got their influence from elsewhere but when they then came to Liverpool at 23 or 24 they were already men and therefore the club just said ‘you go out there and you perform’.

“In the latter years there were no senior players. There was Ian Rush and I. There was such a big turnover of the Houghton’s and the Ronnie Whelan’s, the Beardsley’s, the McMahon’s, they all left too soon in my opinion, whereby, if they stayed, and one or two young players came in and learned what they saw then they became the senior players and that would have continued.”

Barnes also tackled the topic of racism during his career and said he never let it affect him because of his upbringing and his feelings of empowerment.

“I consider those people to be ignorant. I feel superior to them. I’m living in Highgate in a house that’s worth a million pounds. Where do they live?

“You know they’re getting on a bus to go to their – to go home and you know they’re living in a council estate and probably haven’t even got a job. How can they feel superior to me? So the whole black-white dynamic of the superiority of one group of people over the other – I never felt that at all.”

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