In an honest interview for the club’s official programme, Sean Longstaff has admitted he’s found the criticism he’s received this season ‘a bit surprising’.
The young midfielder broke onto the scene in 2019 and was one of our top performers under Rafa Benitez this time last year, however he’s struggled to put in the sort of classy displays that saw him linked with a big money move to Man Utd so far this season.
That said, it’s easy to see why he’s had a difficult time, with him suffering a serious knee injury and having to cope with the extra pressure and expectation placed on his head following last year’s big breakthrough.
Speaking in the last matchday programme released by the club before all play was suspended, here’s what he said when asked, ‘How does he feel about the criticism?’:
“At times, it’s probably been a bit surprising,”
“You come back [from injury] and people are expecting, setting expectations that are probably unrealistic, that’s just the way I feel, to be honest.
“I feel like coming back, people expected me to be able to do everything, and I’m not the complete player yet – I’m still young and learning, and playing in the best league in the world is going to be tough at times.”
“It’s something you have to take in your stride and enjoy.
“I hold myself to those high standards, so I’ve got no problem with everyone else doing that as well.
“I’ve still got people around me helping me, trying to get me to where I want to be.
“I’m still enjoying it, and it’s just about staying at an even keel and I know that, ultimately, I’ll get to where I want to be.”
A very fair and mature assessment from the 22-year-old, who then went on to discuss the Michael Carrick comparisons that emerged last year.
Here’s what he had to say, insisting ‘there’s a long way to go’, but that he’s excited to see how he develops – insisting he’ll only get better:
“I won’t lie, I got in last year and when I had played before I got injured I’d done pretty well, and then everyone was ranting and raving about me.
“Then obviously everyone expects you to come back and hit the ground running, and sort of pick up from where you left off.
“That probably wasn’t the case straight away.
“But I place that expectation on myself to be able to go out and play and perform at my best every week.
“I’m still 22, there’s still going to be ups and downs and I’m still striving for that consistency.
“The Sean Longstaff you’re looking at now isn’t the finished article.
“I’m still miles away from that.
“That’s probably what excites me the most, to know that there’s still a long way to go and hopefully I’m going to get better.”
A wise head on young shoulders. Let’s stick behind him.