It has been confirmed by club sources that there will be a reserve and academy overhaul in the summer with investment planned to replace those who leave with a higher standard of talented youngsters from both home and abroad.
Whilst most will have their eyes firmly fixed on the latest big names linked over the summer, the news of investment at development level came as music to my ears and something I will be keeping a close eye on as I see it as pivotal in Newcastle’s, or any clubs progression.
Being a club with aspirations to be consistently among the top teams in the Premier League, to play in Europe and possibly win a domestic cup over the next few years, squad depth, and quality in that depth is absolutely vital in being able to push on in cup competitions without league form suffering.
During the 90’s, Manchester Utd and Arsenal were built on the philosophy of a strong three tier system, containing players who can make the step up when called upon over the course of a season and more so do a good job instead of filling in through necessity.
Newcastle have shown they have a number of talented youngsters at reserve and academy level, some of which have gone on loan this season and by all accounts are performing admirably for their respective loan clubs, but who can make the step up?
We have a few first team back-up players out of contract and heading for pastures new come the summer, and as I said in my previous article, signing proven quality as back-up can prove to be extremely difficult. With that in mind, would we be better served putting trust in some of our promising youth as back-up?
It may be something that is in fact in the works, with a lot of the more stand-out youngsters being sent on loan to gain first team experience until the end of the season, and all goes well they will be all but ready to take the next step in their career and become reliable back-up for the first team.
If some can, it would be a massive plus in terms of Newcastle being able to offer proven names better wages, both those already at the club and potential signings, rather than having to offer someone who’s back-up at best better money just because they’ve played Championship football.
It’s obviously a risk, but a calculated one. The coaching staff at first team and development level know these lads through and through, and will know who has the potential to make the step up, and personally I would rather see them be given the opportunity than signing someone in their mid-twenties who may be no better than the back-up player they replace.
Obviously some experienced signings need to be made for the club to progress to the next level and consistently push for Europe and domestic cups as well as continue to fly high in the league, but if we are to invest time, effort and money in the reserves and academy, is it not a waste to constantly be bringing in players to jump ahead of them in the line?
Of the youngsters at the club currently I believe there are definitely some who could do a good job as back-up, and sending them on loan to Championship and League One is great for gaining some experience, but at the end of the day, the only way we will ever know if they are capable of playing Premier League football is by giving them the opportunity to prove their worth at that level.
As I said, it would be a risk for the first season, but a calculated one, and personally I would much rather see us bring the likes of Remie Streete through and buy someone of Jan Vertonghens quality, than stunting Streete’s development by signing say someone like Adrian Mariappa, and then because of his higher wage demands maybe not having the budget to sign a Vertonghen but instead having to sign someone of slightly lower quality.
It’s all about personal preference and level of faith in our current youth I supppose. Some would choose experience over youth. Personally, I think there are more than a handful who deserve the chance to prove themselves and would rather see them get the opportunity and replaced at development level with quality youth prospects.
This, in my opinion, will give us the foundations of a three tier system which can rival the best clubs in the country in the future. One full to the brim with talented young players rather than having a number of players as first team back-up who are in their mid-twenties and realistically will never be top six standard players. The one thing you get with youth above experience is the potential of improvement year on year.
Obviously experience can be invaluable depending on the quality of player and is not to be underestimated or dismissed, but as I said, my personal preference would be geared toward giving the youth a chance and clearing out some deadwood, in-turn freeing up wages and having a higher budget for proven quality first team signings.
Very Interested in what others think.. Should we put our faith in our youth and clear out some of our current back-up? Or is experience despite limited talent a safer bet as back-up for our first team? Finally, who out of our younger players do you think could make the step up to first team level? Albeit as back-up.
All comments and insight appreciated as always.