On Thursday, as part of the the Academy reshuffle, Barry Lewtas was announced as the new Liverpool u23s manager, replacing the successful Neil Critchley who vacated the role earlier in the year to become first team manager at Blackpool FC.
But who is the 39-year-old from Fazakerley, and how did he work his way up the ladder to take on this role?
Lewtas’ appointment comes as no surprise to many who follow the academy sides. He has been part of the setup for more than seven years, taking charge of several age groups. His rise comes alongside a growing reputation, though many supporters will be unfamiliar with his name and career path.Embed from Getty Images
Before joining Liverpool in 2013, Lewtas learned his craft at Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers. In 2003 he started his journey with the Latics and was tasked with working in their Centre of Excellence. During his four-year tenure he would oversee the development of players aged 10-13 — those just starting out in their careers needing valuable advice and guidance.
He moved to Bolton Wanderers in 2017, manoeuvring into a more common academy structure. For the next few years he coached players aged 11-14. With players at this age he would look to hone the basics of the game, whilst preparing them for the latter stages of their junior careers.
During his time at Wigan and Bolton he gained valuable experience — working across several age groups provided him with an understanding of the game that was perfect for his next employers, Liverpool Football Club.
In 2013 he made the transition to Kirkby to take charge of the u10-u12 age group, before swiftly progressing to become u16s head coach not long after. During his time with these age groups he would work closely with former player and long-time academy coach Steve Heighway.
Years under the guidance of the Anfield legend would provide Lewtas with the support and guidance he needed to develop his own coaching knowledge and techniques. This would prove extremely beneficial and prepare him for the age groups ahead.Embed from Getty Images
In 2018 he was promoted to become Liverpool u18s manager after previous incumbent, club legend Steven Gerrard, left to take the top job at Rangers FC. The trust that academy director Alex Inglethorpe put in Lewtas was immediately rewarded in his first season when he led the u18s to the FA Youth Cup title — his fledgling Reds defeated Manchester City in the final on penalties.
This success, alongside a string of great results with the u18s side over the last 18 months, gave him a strong chance of landing the u23 role. His rapport with several of the those players who he has personally developed over the years, including the likes of Paul Glatzel, Curtis Jones and Abdi Sharif, further aided his cause.
Speaking to LFC TV after being formally announced as new u23s manager, Lewtas said: “It’s a real honour. Obviously, it’s a huge responsibility, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Man-management is clearly important to the 39-year-old — when asked what he thought the biggest challenge of managing the u23s would be, he said: “It’s the responsibility. I think every age group you have the responsibility to look after the player and look after the person that’s in your hands really.”
One of the major differences from previous age groups will be that his squad will change more from fixture to fixture. With the likes of Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliot and Neco Williams pushing for places within the first team, Lewtas will face the challenge of adapting his side on a weekly basis, dependent on Jürgen Klopp’s needs.
Ultimately, whenever academy football returns, the first few months will truly show if he is the right man for the role. He has a tough act to follow after Neil Critchley’s successful tenure, but if he can produce anything along the lines of his predecessor’s results then fans can expect a competitive Reds outfit getting plenty of positive results in the near future.
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