During our season in the Championship, our young striker Phil Airey made his way up through the ranks of Newcastle United’s youth system.
He had previously been deployed at right-back under Richard Money, however after switching to the position of striker he became a revelation during the 2009-10 season and Airey managed to bag 19 goals for the academy and reserve team.
Throughout the last season, Airey was once again prolific for the reserves. His goalscoring form did not go unnoticed by both Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew who both talked about him at different stages. In fact his goalscoring abilities allowed him to win the golden boot award for the Premier Reserve League North with a total of 11 goals.
Things weren’t that easy for Airey though. He started life as a right-back for the reserves. He even played a number of different positions for the reserve teams: right-midfield, left-back, left-wing and commenting on the issue he stated “I’ll play wherever I am needed for the club”. In the space of two years he has gone from playing in defence to becoming a striker who’s worked his way up to that position.
Airey is ambitious too as he commented in several interviews that he wanted to emulate the progress of Andy Carroll into the first team. How true that is now, I’m not sure. But it does show he wants to make a name for himself in the reserves and make his way up by integrating into the first team. In fact Airey was moved up into the first-team by Alan Pardew during the second half of the season. Partly due to the injuries that our squad had incurred but it shows that Pardew is at least willing to include him in the first team.
Determination is evident in Airey’s demeanour. When commenting on that he wanted to emulate Carroll’s progress he said ‘I need to prove myself and score a few goals, but we will have to see what happens’. The lad seems to have the right attitude to making a name for himself at Newcastle United. The quote highlights the lad knows what he has to do to get into the first team. That sort of drive and determination will allow Phil Airey to become a fantastic player for us.
Perhaps the best moment for Airey came when he made his full debut for the Magpies’ during the Stevenage FA Cup tie. Airey described it as a ‘bittersweet’ moment when he came on. However this did not seem to affect his performance. The work rate he showed was phenomenal; even though we were losing Airey put his heart and soul in to giving the Stevenage defence a run for their money. Phil Airey did show his ability to many fans that had made the trip down to Newcastle by setting up Joey Barton for his goal.
There is talk of Colin Calderwood’s Hibs making a move for him during this transfer window, but I for one would like the lad to be given a chance to make his mark during the forthcoming pre-season games. If Airey shows the ability that he has demonstrated for the reserves during these games then he may find himself involved in the first team a lot more.
With the rumour mill in full swing the talk of Nile Ranger moving on may allow Phil Airey to feature a lot more this season. I believe that Airey could be a better player than Ranger; Ranger’s time is nearly up in terms of him proving himself to Alan Pardew and the Geordie faithful. If the door is shown to Ranger then Phil Airey has a chance to prove his football skills on the biggest stage of them all.
What do you think? Will Airey make an impact this season?