Former Peterborough boss Steve Evans believes Newcastle sold Ivan Toney ‘too soon’ – and is backing the in-form striker to land a Premier League move.
This comes from The Athletic’s in-depth piece on the 23-year-old striker – who’s currently the joint top scorer in England on 11 goals – which features a few lines from ex-boss Evans; the man who brought him to Peterborough for £650,000 last summer.
As he explains below, Evans feels Rafa Benitez was wrong not to give Toney a chance, believing he would’ve been ‘loved’ by NUFC fans before long:
“I make a clear comparison to Chris Wood, who I managed at Leeds United, and I think Ivan has all his attributes, but could be even better,”
“I had watched Ivan and thought, ‘This kid is top Championship, or even Premier League, all day.’
“The Newcastle move may have come a little bit too soon.
“I reckon he probably deserved a little crack under Rafa, and that isn’t knocking Rafa, but I think the Geordies would have loved Ivan had they seem him playing in the Premier League.
“I still think he might face them there one day.”
As for Toney himself, he too had a lot to say about his failure to break through at St James’ Park.
Here’s what he told The Athletic, believing he was never given a proper chance to prove himself on Tyneside:
“Going up to Newcastle, it was an exciting time. I moved away from home for the first time, as a young lad, which was always going to be difficult. But I feel I coped with it well and I just got on with things. I started scoring goals for the under-23s and I felt ready for that chance.”
“I can’t tell you how crazy it is as a young lad, getting thrown on in the Premier League,”
“The atmosphere was something else. I thought I did pretty well and I thought I took it all in my stride, but the managers up there didn’t seem to agree.”
“I didn’t feel like I was given a proper chance. I still don’t. I’m not sure the manager gave me a proper opportunity. That’s his choice — he brought in players he wanted to work with, rather than giving youth a chance.
“If you’re not valued somewhere, which I didn’t feel I was, then go somewhere you do feel valued. That’s what I did.”
It’s easy to say in hindsight, but I was a little surprised we cashed in so soon – especially when he was getting better and better during his spells out on loan.
He never showed the sort of form to suggest he should’ve been banging down the manager’s door and demanding a spot in the first-team, however the fact he was given just 41 minutes of senior football at Newcastle doesn’t sit well.
He has a long way to go, with League One being a million miles away from top flight football, but his mixture of size, athleticism and ability in front of goal puts him in good stead to make a Premier League player out of himself.
He’ll almost certainly be playing Championship football before long, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares and where he ends up.