Managing director Lee Charnley has today opened up about what he believes is Newcastle United’s vision – vowing to give us the ‘best academy in the region’.
In a rare interview with The Athletic, Charnley spoke about how the club is trying to fill the club’s academy with lads from the local area – and points at the Longstaff brothers as an inspiration for others to follow.
Here is what Charnley had to say:
“You hear people talking about footballers being mercenaries. These are two boys who desperately want to play for their hometown club,”
“To see Sean do it last year and Matty get his opportunity — and he looked like it was his 25th or 50th game, not his first — was so pleasing for everyone. I think it was fantastic and we’ve seen the public reaction, not just the Newcastle public. I saw what Gary Neville tweeted after the game.
“We want to be the best academy in the region. Our vision is we want local boys to look at it and think it’s not going to be full of boys from London, Manchester or abroad. Between nine and 16, it will be an academy with boys predominantly from the local area. There will be exceptions but generally, it will be local.”
The club’s academy has endured criticism over the last decade – and rightly so at times – but the emergence of the Longstaff brothers has been a huge positive. Paul Dummett and Andy Carroll have been the only players of note to come through our youth system since Steven Taylor burst onto the scene in 2003. That needed to change and it has, but it can’t stop with the Longstaff’s.
Charnley also states that the club are trying to promote players from the local area above players from elsewhere, which seems bizarre. Yes, it is good to have a local lad to root for in the team, but if you’re good enough to play for Newcastle, surely it shouldn’t matter where you are from?
Nonetheless, Charnley says:
“People say it might be because of this reason or that but it’s not. It’s a conscious decision to get local boys because we want local boys to see what’s happened with Paul, Sean and Matty, and say that’s who they want to be.”
These comments in particular have drawn criticism from several sections of the Newcastle fanbase, with some labelling this decision as a further attempt to save costs from the club.
Charnley then said the following about Longstaff junior, saying his debut against Man Utd was the ‘stuff of dreams’:
“Local boy, hometown club, debut, winning goal, Man United, Gallowgate End — as he said himself, it is the stuff of dreams. The ultimate aim is that one player every year comes through our system and ends up in our first-team squad. That is what we want to achieve”
The Athletic go on to state that Charnley refused to comment when pressed on other issues revolving the club, we can only guess what issues they may have been.
Whichever way you take Charnley’s comments, it is nice to actually hear from a senior club official for a change. Leaving fans in the dark often with zero explanation for decisions has been a heavy criticism of the Ashley era.
Let’s hope we hear from our Managing Director more often.