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Former Liverpool Academy coach Steve Heighway has labelled Rafa Benitez ‘crazy’ for the Spaniard’s decision to take charge of the club’s youth policy.

Heighway was speaking in the wake of Liverpool’s FA Youth Cup triumph over Manchester United.

The former Anfield winger left his post at the club last week after 19 years in charge of the Academy, but he believes his departure will hinder the chances of Liverpool nurturing young talent.

“Rafa is a terrific manager, but I think I’m the best coach of 17 and 18-year-old players in this club,” he said.

“But I no longer get the chance to do that. It’s crazy, mad and it’s to the detriment of the young players here.

“If they are not working with the best coach of young players, then what is this football club doing?

“It’s not an ego thing, but one thing I am absolutely sure about is that the best thing for the players is to be with me.

“My influence is being taken away too soon over the best players and I’m not convinced that what they are going to do is better for them.

“I would urge any football club to make sure the Academy is not one of the areas the manager controls.”

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