With reports last week suggesting Newcastle are looking to offload 5 players,( Mike Williamson, and Yoan Gouffran being the most high profile names) It is disappointing to see Gael Bigirimana, Mehdi Abeid and Haris Vuckic on that list. Disappointing because I’m sure we all had high hopes for those particular 3 to hopefully develope into players capable of turning out on a regular basis for our first team.
Quite why our academy and young prospects don’t make the grade is open to question. Is it the fault of our local scouts? or the level of coaching? Maybe the players themselves just never reach the potential fit for Premier League football, perhaps it’s a combination of all the above. What ever the reason there does genuinely seem to be a lot of work going into these young lads start in football.
In April this year the Chronicle was given access to the Academy and the academy manager Joe Joyce and also head of academy education Darren Derwent, and It produced an interesting article as a result and well worth a read if you are interested in what goes on there. Click here if interested.
I guess we all have to be realistic about how many young players will make the grade. We think of past talents to of come out of Newcastle, but you don’t get too many superstars popping up all the time, it’s more likely one every decade or so. We were fortunate to see the likes of Shearer and Gazza playing in the same era but it’s rare to see that. Yes, you’ll see lots of talented local lads play all across the Premier League but how many are real ‘super stars’ like Shearer or Gazza for instance?
In the case of Gael Bigirimana, we took this lad from Coventry City where he had won Championship apprentice of the year and on first viewing looked a real prospect. Yet after a total of just 25 senior appearances for Newcastle anda loan to Rangers whilst injured, he is now seemingly deemed surplus to requirement.
Then there is Haris Vuckic, another hot prospect when he signed at just 17 years of age. This lad was seen as one of the top youngsters in Europe, reports saying he had been eyed up by Real Madrid before we signed him. Fast Forward from 2009 to the present day and he has been Loaned to Cardiff City, Rotherham and was part of the 5 we loaned to Rangers last season. He did pretty well at Rangers and scored 10 goals for them before returning to Newcastle. To be fair the lad has been beset by injuries which has resulted in a stop start career for him. He has had plenty of stand out performances for Newcastle during his time with us most notably the memorable 4.3 win against Chelsea in the 3rd round of the league cup and again in the 4th round 4.0 loss to Arsenal where he got MOTM despite Newcastle losing the match. He won an additional five and a half year contract after impressing but it seems to of all come to nothing in the end in so far as his career with Newcastle is concerned.
Next on the list is Mehdi Abeid. Signed up to a 5 year contract in 2011 aged 18, he has been loaned to St Johnson where he made 12 appearances and in july 2013 went to Panathinaikos, where he made 28 appearances and scored 7 goals. He won pludits for his play there and helped them win the Greek cup. He made his premier league debut some 3 years after joining Newcastle having only featured in the cup competitions previously. Last season he made 13 Premier League appearances and looked pretty good in a some to be fair, he seemed stronger and in my personal opinion i think he could do well for us given half a chance. All the same if reports are true, he’s on the list to go.
So where does that leave us in terms of bringing youngsters through, the above three , so full of promise at first now deemed not up to scratch. Yet as outlined two of those players have done well at other clubs, so is it the physicality and pace of the Premier League that scuppers them or are they just not all that, as they say?
And what of the new prospects coming through. We have seen young Perez go straight into the first team even though he was bought in to develope and he’s done very well. Top marks to Carr and co there, but what of Adam Armstrong,now on loan at Coventry City, will he come back Premier League ready? We released Adam Campbell, now at Notts county so his early promise also came to nothing. Then there is Satka and Mbabu two defenders we could do with really progressing and talking of defenders will Curtis Good EVER be fit again?
There is also the strange case of Olivier Kemen, the combatative midfielder is now apparently wanted by the likes of Liverpool ,Spurs and AC Milan yet Newcastle are said to have reservations about his first team potential. To be fair that was the view of Carver and Stone and Steve McClaren has yet to run the rule over him having not seen much of him in pre-season. Lets hope we don’t lose a possible gem there.
There are of course positives in the respect that we have some very promising young players like Rolando Aarons looking like he can be very special if he can stay injury free albeit we nicked him off Bristol. And Paul Dummett could improve under Steve McClaren and the coaches. Freddie Woodman is catching the eye as a promising young keeper and lets hope he does well while on loan at Crawley Town. We’ve Also just added young Ivan Toney from Northampton Town, he looks a promising young forward who scored 13 times for Northampton, but there are no guarantees he’ll progress to Premier League level.
On the horizon we have Alex Gilliead, Tom Heardman, Liam Smith,Kyle Cameron, Dan Barlaser, Adam Laidler,Callum Roberts,Jamie Cobain,Callum Williams,Brendan Pearson, Liam Gibson,Macaulay Gillesphey and Jamie Sterry.
We can only hope someone is looking after the kids and that there is a budding new Geordie hero in amongst that bunch. What are your views on the Newcastle youth prospects, do any of you attend u21 and u18 games? and if you do ,who do you consider a future star?
Talking of the future, I cannot seem to find out if work has actually started on the new Academy building, which was due to commence in may this year. Does anyone know what’s happening there?