In our latest column from the club's Kirkby youth-base, Academy director Frank McParland tells us about the day John Henry turned up unannounced and what Damien Comolli's appointment means for the future.

It's been an exciting first half of the season for us here at the Academy.

We've been delighted by some of the superb football that has been played throughout the age groups, while off the pitch there have been some interesting developments too.

None more so, than the arrival of our new owners, NESV, and our Director of Football Strategy, Damien Comolli.

A few weeks ago we were busy going about our day-to-day business when we were pleasantly surprised to see John Henry turn up at the entrance. There was no big fuss and it wasn't a pre-arranged visit, he just wanted to introduce himself to us.

He spoke to me for a good hour and then spent time chatting with Rodolfo Borrell and Pep Segura.

His knowledge of the Academy was really impressive. He had a lot of information about what we have been doing here. He knew how long I had been back at the club and told us how pleased he was with the work we have implemented.

He was also keen to discuss plans for the future and he seemed really interested in what the Academy can offer. I know from reading about him and his other ventures, that the Red Sox place a big emphasis on getting young players through to the first-team. That's what he wants to do here.

At the end of the conversation he told me that he would be bringing in someone very soon, someone who he was certain would be really good for the club.

I expected to hear something through the grapevine over the next few weeks but the following day he was back in Kirkby, except this time he had Damien Comolli alongside him.

I've known Damien for over a decade so his appointment is one I have been delighted by.

In my first spell here I was scouting for Liverpool's first-team and I used to bump into him a lot when he was doing a similar role with Arsenal.

He has great experience, has an in-depth knowledge of players across Europe and I'm sure he will be a great acquisition for this football club.

His philosophy is to bring through young talent and he's since told me that we will be seeing a lot of him here at the Academy.

That can only be good news for us. He has a strong interest in young, elite players and we are already in the process of looking to sign some very talented teenagers.

He has a great network in Europe and when you combine that with what we already have in place here, it promises to be very exciting times for us.

In terms of our current situation, well it hasn't changed much since last week.

The cold snap has meant we have been unable to do much on the outdoor surfaces, although the U18s did play an indoor eight-a-side match against the reserves on Tuesday and it went really well. There was some great football being played in a two hour session with roll on, roll off substitutes.

John McMahon and Rodolfo were really pleased with the way the players performed and I enjoyed it too, alongside Kenny Dalglish and Pep.

I think the only thing that disappointed Kenny was that he didn't get the chance to get out there and play himself! He often likes to get involved in the practice matches with the U15s and the U16s and normally comes in with a big grin on his face having just scored the winning goal.

Hopefully the icy conditions will improve so that he can get his boots back on next week and we can get back to business with the small matter of the Youth Cup.

We've already seen the fixture postponed once and are hoping the weather will be okay on Wednesday night, as the players really need a game now.

They are all chomping at the bit and looking forward to getting a positive result which would be the perfect way to sign off for the winter break.

Frank was speaking to Paul Hassall