Is Mike Ashley’s investment in youth paying dividends?

Ashley looking to the future?
Since Mike Ashley’s arrival as owner of Newcastle United, much emphasis has been placed on his drive to develop the club’s youth system.

Recent news has broken that Mike Ashley is has apparently given the go ahead to invest around Β£15 million in youth prospects over the next three years.

It is said that Ashley’s ambition for the club to scout Europe and the world and bring in affordable yet talented young players who can then be developed in our youth system for our first team, allowing us to compete on an even keel with some of Europe’s elite clubs.

What I am wondering, however, is has there really been much progression in the club developing these youngsters? Is this investment actually showing an improvement in return?

It has been around four years since Ashley’s arrival. In that time we have brought in a number of top youth prospects, but unfortunately, to my eyes, not many of them, despite their supposed potential seem to be making the grade.

Names like Wesley Baheng, Tamas Kadar, Ben Tozer, Nile Ranger, Samuel Adjei and Fabio Zamblera were all talked up as stars of the future, but for some or other reason have faded, and have either left the club or made little to no progress.

I tried to think of any success stories, and the name of Tim Krul came to mind, but it’s worth pointing out that Krul was in fact purchased under Freddy Shepherd’s regime.

Andy Carroll was another name that came through the youth ranks, and although we lost him to Liverpool, we managed to make the tidy sum of Β£35 million profit. He too though was with the club before any of these, new and improved youth investments were taking place.

Even some of our local boys who we felt were showing some talent,seem to have been halted in their progress.

Fraser Foster, Kazenga Lua Lua, Phil Airey, Brad Inman and even Shane Ferguson, who until the Brighton match seemed to have fallen out of the first team picture, despite impressing the season before.

Even the neat capture of young Everton prospect Dan Gosling which caused much excitement at the time, seems to have been overhyped, as two seasons later, Gosling himself barely features in the first team fixtures, although he looked good in pre-season fixtures.

There are a few positives – with the likes of Mehdi Abeid and Haris Vuckic, who were perhaps the stars of our pre-season tour of the States. Personally I feel young Sammy Ameobi doesn’t look ready for the first team.

Both Abied and Vuckic, have been in or around the first team squad this year, and looked good, but will need to improve, as they both reach that crunch time in their Newcastle careers, where it will soon be make or break.

There are players of the same age, like Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, Everton’s Jack Rodwell and Blackburn’s David Hoilett, who are already first team regulars, performing at a high standard.

The last thing we as supporters want to see, is money being spent in developing these young players from around the world, and then seeing them released or go stagnant in the reserves.

I feel in the past year or so, Mike Ashley and specifically Graham Carr have done a remarkable job at finding quality purchases at reasonable fees when it comes to already established players, but has their work in the youth set up been anywhere near as successful?

There has always been the odd success story, with names like Steven Taylor, Andy Carroll, Tim Krul and Shola Ameobi (choke) but surely with all this added focus on youth we should be seeing a noticeable improvement in the number of youths coming through to challenge for the first team?

To date, it doesn’t seem like many of the young hopefuls have made the grade. One can only hope Vuckic and Abied will be the first to buck that trend and go on to star in the first team for years to come.

Is the investment in the youth system showing improvement from where is was before the Ashley regime, or should we perhaps concentrate our investment on established players? Without of course neglecting the youth setup (Keegan style) which itself would be silly.

About JJ

Toon supporter since 1993. Living in South Africa. I've been following Newcastle since the days of Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley. Despite all the turmoil recently, the passion only grows with time.

113 thoughts on “Is Mike Ashley’s investment in youth paying dividends?

  1. Ice, according to Wikipedia Simmo cost the toon 750K from Man U. The rest of the deals until then had been loans. I suppose 750K return to Fergie isn’t too bad, considering he was probably on relatively low wages at Man U whilst under contract… meaning perhaps Man Utd made money on him even though he had been at the club since god knows, joined the Man Ut reserve team in 2005, and the toon full time in 2010..

    Man Utd probably have a few of that type of player, who are on low wages and then sold for maybe a million quid. Canny investment by the sound of things. We need to get our players to EPL clubs, as mentioned earlier, the majority of our bairns who don’t make it seem to disappear from footy altogether…


  2. Big D…from my recollection they came through the ranks…. with Gazza, Kenny Warton and Waddler….

    If you’re good enough you’re old enough. I think Robbie Elliot can be thrown in there too….


  3. MM yeah Elliot was another one but the thing I was thinking about was some fans said because he done away with the younguns we lost that but there is 4 prem players right there that came through πŸ˜•


  4. Dave, I would say by current prices there are 2 20 million players and a couple of 5 million worths… πŸ˜‰ in there…

    Howey, Watson, Gazza and Waddler all played for England…


  5. Big Dave;

    Watson and Clark came from Wallsend Boys Club.

    So did Anthony Lormor .

    I watched him from when he was 9 years old scoring goals for fun .

    made his Toon debut aged 17 coming on as a sub for Mirandinho against Spurs. Think he made 2 starts and 6 sub appearances scoring 3 goals and we sent him out on loan and never saw him again.


  6. FSOTC at message 56,

    Well, it was Lennon of Celtic who said it, it isn’t some paper transfer rumour, he said in a press conference that both teams agreed terms but it was Leon Best himself who refused to move. James Perch also confirmed the same in an interview today.

    I guess we weren’t closed to first team players leaving at all. Wonder why no one is picking up on that one.


  7. Talking if youth, anyone know what the fck Vuckic has fine wrong? He played a couple of good games, started against Liverpool and he’s not even made the bench since.

    I’d play him in midfield Sunday with Guthrie.


  8. Sidekick, don’t you find it strange that so many players when they don’t make it at the toon, just disappear completely ? Maybe they aren’t good enough, just get disillusioned with football, and give up….or end up playing somewhere just for fun…


  9. think a kid came through with gazza,called bogie,they said he would take gazzas place that (they said) why they cou ld afford to let him go,afraid he never made it,manager of the heed now


  10. FJ @ 82 people did pick up on it but it seems if you mention our players being sold your being a negative fuker, cause it makes jabba look as if he is prepared to make money and weaken the team πŸ˜‰ instead of building the team πŸ˜€


  11. Ice, you’re right about Bogie. Though he did kick around the leagues a bit at BOLTON OR pRESTON i BELIEVE::::He didn’t disappear completely like some of them…


  12. For the haters: MA’s new policy shows he is here for the longer term and will stop at nothing to show you all to be a wee bit moronic. Once more a brilliant strategy from NUFC. We are head and shoulders above most clubs in how we are being ran!


  13. It just seems such a random move. Is it because we signed Cisse, we can now let a striker leave? I thought that was the logic behind letting Lovenkrands go in the summer?

    I don’t get it, we never seem to build a squad, we only replace. It’s annoying.


  14. MM;

    Lormor was one hell of a prospect.

    3 goals in 8 appearances in the old first division aged 17.

    he was still 17 when we loaned him out. If we had kept him and played him he could have been a Toon legend.

    Funky J;

    Celtic asked for Best in a loan deal .

    Best turned it down stating that he was not going to play in a tin pot league with only two teams in it.


  15. Funky, I suppose it’s the players own perogative if he feels he doesn’t wanna move. Best obviously didn’t want to move, although maybe the club wanted him to move…

    You only need to look at Alan Smith to see how things are…


  16. FJ, I think the story’s not getting much attention because Best is underrated by many of our fans. I think he’s a good player, but he gets a hell of a lot of flak that seems undeserved.

    To the larger point about allowing players to leave, it’s somewhat troubling, given the question marks over Ba’s long term knee condition. Obviously he’s been absolutely wondrous for us, but is it worth gambling that he won’t have a problem at some point? Selling off Best, who’s got to be our 3rd choice striker, once Cisse gets settled, would leave us reliant upon Shola & Loverman, who I also rate higher than many.


  17. I don’t want Best to go, I was spouting off “The Legend of Best” before he started getting the goals. If Pardew has this hard on for long ball punt football, Best is the…… well, best we have for it. He wins in the air, he has skill and movement.

    I don’t get why we wanted him out when Lovenkrands is on his way in the summer, who I imagine is on a higher wage than Best, so it isn’t even a case of saving wage money in the long term.

    I guess for all the talk from the club in positive terms about Best, he is still viewed with that “waste of money Hughton signing” stigma some moron fans persist with because of his sticky start.


  18. Oh well. Sorry lads, would loved to have answered your questions. But it.was Friday night and all…
    Both articles seemed to.have created a good mix of debate…

    Just out of interest, just I voted for Benny to come good with our main strikers, and I do think that given time, our youngster their.worth πŸ˜€


  19. We should be seeing the pick of the south american youngsters coming through soon, the ones MA told the courts we were getting the pick of a few years back


  20. This investment by Ashley shows a few things, just like lots of his other inniatives he for one takes, a) UEFA seriously and the Fair play rules and b) perhaps he wants to turn us into a success of some sort, c) the Barca of the north, like Sir John wanted.

    I think how it goes depends on UEFA the rules about young uns be homegrown etc and Fair Play
    have various gaps ie they don’t have to be born and bred, just bred. The stadiums rights as much as I hate is a way of manipulating figures, it’s just he’s not going to do it quite as blatantly as Citeh!

    Personally I’m starting to come around I would sooner the business model being shown now than, the QPR model.

    We can succeed, albeit perhaps not at the Citeh, Man Ure, Chelsea level but to be a proper top 4 top 6 team without the negative outlay that Liverpool are currently showing would be fookin unreal! And a real Geordie thing we to I was brought up to demand value for money and the principle of graft


  21. Much of this clearout is the Dennis Wise and Jeff Vetere generation. Too bad we couldn’t let Xisco go with them.


  22. As for Wise and Vetere…

    ‘Wise’s image thereafter has been damaged, and himself admitted “It has all had a damaging effect on my career”.

    ‘Jeff Vetere had a brief spell at crystal palace as head scout.Before Vetere was appointed as Chief Scout of Aston Villa F.C. in November’

    I hope we beat Vetere 6-0 again on Sunday, you useless c###.


  23. Watson Elliot etc came through when ardiellies was manager not keegan. People are knocking our current youth set up but we have had Krul and Carroll come through recently getting 35 mill and Krul must be worth around15+. On top of that you have lads like sameobi vuckic and ferguson threatening the first team. I’d say we are better than most sides and wanting to improve that can only be a good thing. I didn’t count abroad as he never really played at youth level.


  24. angel of death that statement was also on some blog site, pardew doesnt wan james tavernier going anywhere yet i recon thats why he is being thrown into any rightback space that comes up on loan i recon big plans for him…either that or they wana sell him…


  25. I think giving players the right amount of time to develop before releasing them is also crucial. I remember players like Beardsley and Carrick being released in the past. Crazy really.


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