What’s all this ‘development team’ spiel?

Past potential?
Past potential?
After our humiliating FA Cup defeat to Brighton, Alan Pardew said he was forced to put out youngsters that should really be in the ‘development team’. I don’t follow though…

Now Pardew has actually mentioned these players belonging to the ‘development squad’ a few times this season. One of the main pledges made by Derek Llambias and Mike Ashley since they joined the club was to build a youth set up that will carry the club moving forward – however I’m not seeing it.

Our line up on Saturday looked like this; Rob Elliot, Davide Santon, Mike Williamson, James Perch, James Tavernier, Vurnon Anita, Gael Bigirimana, Gabriel Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Mehdi Abeid and Shola Ameobi. Subs used were; Sylvain Marveaux, Paul Dummett and Nile Ranger.

Santon, Williamson, Perch, Anita, Obertan, Marveaux and Shola – even Elliot – are all part of our first team squad. That leaves Sammy, Ranger, Dummett, Abeid, Bigi and Tavernier.

Sammy Ameobi is supposed to be one of our brightest young talents. He’s 21 in May. He has played 14 times for the senior side this term, averaging 45 minutes per game. He’s only played twice for the U-21’S. Compare that to our 1st team squad player Gabriel Obertan, who has played 18 times averaging 54 minutes per game. Not a lot of difference really. So is Sammy in fact a First Team squad player?

I know what you may be thinking – ‘You’re missing the point Shamrock. Pardew said these players should be in the development squad. Meaning his hands are tied. Fine, but Sammy is no spring chicken anymore! He should be making inroads into our first team squad by now. Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann are 22 and 21 respectively for example. They are well on their way. Davide Santon – our 1st choice left back has only just turned 22. Should he be in the ‘development squad?’

Look harder at these ‘youngsters’. Nile Ranger, Bradden Inman, James Tavernier, Shane Ferguson, Paul Dummett – all 22 this year. Dan Gosling is 23 this year. Romain Amalfitano is 24 this year! Is he a ‘development player?’ If that’s the case, lets throw Vernon Anita and Gabriel Obertan in there too. They are still 23.

Why oh why did we sign Amalfitano?! A complete waste of a place in our squad. If he’s not good enough for us at 23 years old, he never will be. Mehdi Abeid was awful the other day. No fight, no passion, no effort. Did nothing of note. He’s 20 years old. If he is not hungry for a cup match and chance to impress at this stage of his career, when will he ever be? I thought our scouts were meticulous when shopping abroad? What happened here then?!

The youngest of all of these is Gael Bigirimana, who is 19. He has 10 Premier League appearances to his name already this season, averaging about 36 minutes per game. He has 10 other appearances in our cup competitions, averaging 75 minutes per game. He has played for the U-21’S just once this season. Bearing all this mind, you would have to say he is actually part of the first team set up. In fact, take away Adam Campbell (18), Curtis Good (20 in March) and Remi Streete (18) and he is amongst the youngest genuine ‘talents’ on our books.

Look around the Premiership and you will find young examples of according to Pardew at least, development age players making huge strides all over the shop:

Age 22; Benteke, Ramsay, Gueye, Allen, Henderson, Ramirez, Rose, Kyle Walker, McCarthy, Miyaichi, Hazard, Moses, De Gea, Rafael, Welbeck, Balotelli.

Age 21; Wilshere, Weimann, Clyne, Caulker, Romeu, Oscar, Macheda.

20 or under; Oxlade-Chamberlaine, Barkley, Shelvey, Sterling, Lukaku, Phil Jones, Powell, Nastasic.

By the time you get to Dan Gosling’s age you should be a nailed on first time regular. The likes of Gibbs, Walcott, Bannan, Sturridge, Gunter, Rodriguez, McClean, Colback, Meyler, Neil Taylor, Sandro, Bale, Sigurdsson and Tomkins have pretty much all been around their respective first teams for a long time. Gosling was supposed to be a huge talent, but he has stagnated with us. I know he’s been unlucky with injuries – but he just does not look like he is capable of bringing an ‘A’ game to a match anymore.

I know the above list is not exactly massive, but almost every club in the league has better genuine squad depth than us – so they can afford to bring on the odd youth and it actually benefits them because they are good enough. We are playing a bunch of youngish pro’s that would likely struggle in League 1 because we have not invested in our squad – using catchphrases like ‘development squad’ and ‘youth strategy’ as a distraction technique.

Clearly if you are good enough, you play. Santon and Bigi demonstrate this, as do countless other players strutting their stuff in this league. The time for developing is in their teens. If they get to 21, 22 and 23 and have not made a serious impression, they are not good enough!

My perception of what a ‘development team’ should be is a bunch of under 20’s. Players like Streete and Campbell, who we should send off for a couple of years on loan at GOOD clubs before being eased into the first team – or shipped out. We’ll let Good off, who has only just joined from the other side of the world. Don’t waste them on loans to League 1 and 2, or pack them off to poor Scottish sides. If these are supposed to be future Premier League stars then put them in the Championship for a year, somewhere they get relevant experience playing alongside hungry, talented pro’s chomping at the bit to make the next step up and hit the big time. So Curtis Good aside, what excuse does anybody else from this group have? Where does Pardew get off calling them ‘development squad’ players?!

This club’s bigwigs have been working on our fantastic youth set up for five years now. Pardew has had two years overseeing it. What are the results? A bunch of ‘kids’ you can’t really call kids, who will never make it in the Premiership with the exception of Bigirimana and maybe Ferguson and Vuckic.

Whatever our club have been doing with our ‘youths’, it’s not working. They need to change their ways before they ruin the careers of of our actual development players such as Adam Campbell and Remi Streete. Stop pretending these are ‘development players’ and just admit they are squad players that are not good enough. Our youth strategy is still as poor as it ever was. What is the reason? Are they all lazy? I doubt it. Were they never good enough? A few of them, probably yes… Is it bad coaching? That might explain the general lethargy, lack of organisation and work ethic displayed by our entire squad this season. If our coaches are not getting the basics right in training with our senior pro’s, then how can the understudies possibly be learning anything?

Unfortunately these players are taking up spaces in our squad that should be given to players with real ability. They have had whatever raw talent they ever possessed ripped out of them and wasted by a board unwilling to invest properly in the squad and a manager that does not seem to know what player development actually means. Keeping them at the club playing in pointless reserve games well into their 20’s and dragging them out in high pressure top of the range games for the odd 30 minutes every few weeks is not how you nurture a young pro. They should be wheeled out a couple at a time on a regular basis if not on loan – playing alongside a near full strength side so that they actually learn something. They need continuity via regular competitive match practice at a high level.

The board and Pardew took a gamble on this lot to see us through this term instead of making signings and it backfired. In the meantime they have pretty much destroyed the careers of your Sammy Ameobi’s and James Taverniers. Pardew said at the beginning of the season he was happy with his squad and would be pushing for the top four. Was he lying? Did he actually believe the words coming out of his mouth? Now he is bleating on about how they are not ready and how we ‘undercooked’ it in the summer. Either he was happy with his squad in August or he wasn’t. If he was, like he said he was – then I worry for us. If he wasn’t, then he has willingly destroyed the careers of these young pro’s just to toe the line with the Board. Spineless if that’s the case.

Lets stop making excuses now Pardew and start producing results. Have a nice big clear out in the summer of all these players who have not ‘made it’ and give us a proper squad – then take more care developing the next batch of youngsters. Fair enough, you had no other options – but don’t dress them up as youngsters. Say it how it is – our squad is woefully short of genuine competition thanks to the results of a poor and wasted youth strategy combined with a board using it as an excuse to not invest in first team playing staff properly.

About Shamrock

Like everyone here, support Newcastle United. Not the easiest side to feel good about at times, but it's our side!

341 thoughts on “What’s all this ‘development team’ spiel?


    According to the dark side (other blog), Remy is stating that he is waiting til the end of the window to weigh up all his options.

    Big dilemma. Hope they have a plan B.

    Uh oh – I’ve just remembered. Plan B is always the same. Shola 😯 😯 😯


  2. @BD ” I think he has got his head outta the sand and is probably sipping a coffee now thinking ” what a fool the Regime made of me”

    far from it mate, I’ve been drinking green tea for ages now πŸ™‚


  3. So we identified players a good while ago. Interest in Ba started last year. We’ve sold him and stepped up our interest in some of the players we had identified..

    We let it be known we like Remy, we visit France and held talks Friday/Sat. now its Thurs… WHERES THE F**KING BID THEN YOU MUPPETS..

    it’ll be another week before a bid goes in @ around 6.5mill

    1/3 of the month gone.. tick tock tick tock


  4. who thinks if Pardew starts Jonas ahead of Marv when he returns from fitness, he should be sacked on the spot? 😯


  5. Ice…Me??? manual labour?? 😯 the packers are grafting away now, I would have got Mark to do it but his rates are shocking! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜†


  6. MARK pardew has already hinted that jonas will play this morning mate,but surely he cannot drop marv,but who knows with pardew, ive lost the plot


  7. RICHIE has anybody told you manual labour is “not”a spanish drink,aye i heard mark was owr the knot with his price he has a few quid but keeps it quiet in case batty short-arms him πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€


  8. @icedog πŸ˜₯

    apparently he’s gonna reward Obertan after his sterling performance v Brighton with a start instead of Cisse πŸ˜†

    get him out I say.. πŸ˜€


  9. @richietoon

    lol you have ppl packing for you. u lazy ****. remember to hide your rampant Rhino you have tucked under your pillow. 😯

    I only charge Β£20 an hour m8. but one of my workers is blind and the other is an amputee. He struggles driving our 3wheeler Reliant never mind getting up the stairs πŸ˜€


  10. Mark πŸ˜† can’t be arsed with all that packing **** like….besides their insurance only covers the stuff if they pack, allegedly πŸ™„

    Ice…. πŸ˜† .is “Juan Sheet” a drink then?


  11. @richietoon lol the removers oldest trick in the book @Β£100 an hour more.. whatever they move is covered m8. I have my Robin warming up if u change your mind πŸ™‚


  12. Didnt gain him owt cos we’d already said we wanted the packing anyway…and we’re not paying by the hour……..****ing hope not anyway cos they aren’t dropping off until tomorrow 😯


  13. To be fair, given the current injury plight & lack of strikers, I can’t see that Pards has much choice other than to start Jonas, Marv AND Obertan.


  14. @richietoon

    lol we only charge average Β£250 for a full house move, all done in one day. you pay more for overnight storage. never mind, hope it goes well m8.


  15. Aye but Spain is more expensive generally, Β£400 with packing included and they’ll put shelves up etc if required and best of all they have 2 robins….though the movers have **** all knowledge of incoming NUFC transfers πŸ‘Ώ πŸ˜†


  16. @richietoon lol

    aye, thats an excellent price for assembly too. They must be skinny as owt removing in the Sun 😎


  17. Matt Spiro ‏@mattspiro

    #NUFC haggling with managerless Nancy over €4m-rated left-back Massadio Haidara (20). Great name, good prospect. Should get him for €3m

    13m Matthew Milne Matthew Milne ‏@21Milner

    @mattspiro Matt just heard that we have bid for the left back Bong? Which story is true? #nufc

    11m Matt Spiro Matt Spiro ‏@mattspiro

    @21Milner heard that as well. wouldn’t be surprised if they were looking at Bong as another option too


  18. French football writer Matt Spiro on Twitter: “Toulouse confirm Moussa Sissoko can leave for €3.5m (contract up in summer). Hasn’t lived up to ‘new Essien’ tag, but that’s a real bargain.”

    From the Beeb. Surely get him in at that price.


  19. NEWKIE i rate the player i know we need a c/h but also think it would could do with someone to protect the back four as we dont seem to have anyone doing that at the moment imo


  20. Is actually good to see english player performing well in foreign league. Sadly, if only barton control his “demon” well enough. I think france really suit him and calm him down.

    He won Player of the month. 😯


  21. Reports in Italy are again claiming AC Milan are refusing to give up on their pursuit of Newcastle defender Davide Santon. It has been suggested Santon’s agent will travel to England to hold talks with Newcastle to discuss the full-back’s future. It is claimed that Milan want Santon to replace Ignazio Abate, who is being strongly linked with a move to Zenit.
    by skysportspeteo edited

    πŸ™„ πŸ™„


  22. This window could put us in great stead for next season if it forces the board into action.
    Surely they will buy another striker and centre back.
    I know we thought the same re a centre back in the summer, but most of us thought we’d be comfortably top 10 with our squad regardless, the threat of relegation just has to force them into action. If only they thought logically πŸ™„

    Good vs Routledge in the final..


  23. The more I look back on last season the more I begin to doubt Pardew’s abilities. I still think he’s the right man as I don’t believe anyone of note would work with Pardew.
    We had a superb defensive record clean sheets wise last year, but we effectively played 7 defensive outfield players in most games. So is it that impressive? The number of goals we got through luck or individual magic was very high.
    This season we haven’t had as many moments of magic, meaning we’ve had to play our midfielders more attacking, and we’ve conceded more as a result.
    Worse teams than us perform much better on the pitch regularly, and that is the main concern for me.


  24. @icedog

    I only go as far as Durham lol

    nah man, I only do the UK. Tell him to try Anyvan or Shiply. @Anyvan he’ll get a bargain..


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