With the Joey Barton situation dominating the mainstream media, opinion among fans is massively divided.
In fact in all my years as a supporter I have never seen such a divide on issues surrounding the club. Even in the darkest days under Freddie Shepherd, at least we were united as one in anger. Anyway me adding fuel to the fire is only going to draw out the debate further, so it’s probably best left to any of the other numerous posts you’ll find on the subject.
Instead the argument I want to put forward is one based on the youth coming through. Try and divert attention and lighten the mood somewhat, although it failed miserably with my last article! Bad timing I guess!
Amidst all the doom and gloom we have seen some positive signs come from pre-season. Aside from a few new players looking the part it has been mostly the youth which have shown the desire and impressive performances that we all like to see coming into a new season.
Haris Vuckic is the obvious place to start. This lad has caught the eye of few that didn’t know about him and many who did but have been waiting to see him live up to the hype. Whether it be from a starting role or on as impact sub, Vuckic has certainly grabbed the bulk of attention in pre-season. He is very good technically, can play on either wing or behind the striker and by the looks of things has a keen eye for goal. This combined with the physical strength needed, a confidence in his ability and burning desire to make an impact this season, makes me think he deserves his shot this season.
Next up Mehdi Abeid. Safe to say nobody knew the first thing about this lad before he came to the club but within a week of being here there were numerous glowing reports from coaching staff about his attitude and performances in training. Come the pre-season friendlies the fans got their first glimpse of him and I think all were pleasantly surprised at what they witnessed.
Again technically sound and versatile, with a solid passing range and pace on the counter. Also very pleasing to see his relationship with Vuckic on the pitch celebrating together. This would suggest he has settled into life on Tyneside very well so far, which was a concern among some regarding the new French players. Could we be witnessing the emergence of two future stars for the Toon?
Dan Gosling is another who has really impressed in pre-season. He was signed from Everton with an extremely promising reputation but due to the injury which kept him out most of last season we were all left wondering what the hype was all about. I think Dan has shown many already that he could be a real coup for Newcastle. His energy level and willingness to get around the pitch and be involved as much as possible, combined with some classy touches and by the looks of things potential to get a few goals. He has quickly endeared him to the Newcastle faithful and I’m personally really looking forward to seeing more from him this season. Seems a good lad who just seems really happy to be back playing football, kind of the positive attitude we need around the place.
They would be my main three picks to make an impact this season along with Shane Ferguson, who most will have seen at this stage, has potential to be a very good player indeed if he keeps on the way he is going. Apart from these four however there are a few that deserve honourable mentions due to impressive pre-season performances.
James Tavernier, a young lad who obviously benefited from going out on loan, has looked like he could step in at right back or in the centre and could give a solid performance if we suffer from injuries. Admittedly he still needs to develop further and gain experience as all young defenders do but promising signs from another product of the academy with a good attitude and hunger to succeed at the top level.
Yven Moyo, stolen from under the noses of Man Utd has been talked up to the hilt by Beardsley since his return this season, impressing as both a left wing and left back, getting man of the match awards on two occasions and providing a number of assists in the process. I personally haven`t seen much of this lad but judging from what Beardsley has said about him and various match reports from pre-season, he is definitely one to watch out for.
Sammeobi is another. Very raw still in my opinion, needs to improve on his composure and technical ability, but he has scored goals and seems really hungry to prove his worth. Once he is kept grounded and keeps on improving he will get his chance to shine, more than likely in cup games this season. Was very worried when I heard of another from the Ameobi clan coming through the ranks but I actually really like Sammy. He seems a real good lad and again appears to have the hunger and desire you want to see from youth.
Final brief mentions will go firstly to Ryan Donaldson who has grabbed a few goals for the reserves in pre-season. He may be sent on loan this season which would be good for him at this stage in his development I think. One for next season maybe? And secondly, Phil Airey. If he plays as well as he did last season for the reserves Pardew will have no choice but to give this young lad his opportunity. Again it may only be in the cups this year but another worth keeping an eye on.
Obviously these are all still young lads and it would be risky throwing them in at the deep end straight from the off – some will need another season without doubt. All the same it is good to see that we seem to be producing a better crop of talent than in years gone by, and more so that we are willing to utilize it to our advantage rather than develop them only to see them move on.
Who do you think can make the cut this season?