First of all we will define what we mean by youth for last season. We mean anyone who was 21 or under at the start of last season.This eliminates Peter Ramage – too old at 23!.
The best young players for us last season were James Milner and Steven Taylor â€“ both of them turned 21 last January, both are members of the England under-21 team and between them they played 97 times for Newcastle last season and each scored 4 goals.
Weâ€™ll go through each young playerâ€™s achievements for last season and then talk some about our very successful Youth Academy.
- James Milner
A story book season for James. Nearly sold to Aston Villa last August after playing 33 times for them the season before James went on to tie Shay Givenâ€™s mark of 53 appearances in a season. What was different about Milnerâ€™s performances is that he gained a certain level of consistency for one so young and displayed an excellent attitude throughout the season. We think James has got to continue to be given his head next season â€“ and he will only get better. His four goals were all great goals and went in like rockets. James has made 104 appearances for Newcastle. Well done James and best luck for another tremendous season under Big Sam.
- Steven Taylor
Steven had a fairly poor start to the season. He was well thought at the beginning of the season but had missed about five months of the previous season with a shoulder injury. He had made 17 appearance in the previous season and 22 in the season before that.But like the good professional he is Steven came back strongly and made great strides in the last three months of the season to record 44 appearances for the team and four valuable goals. Steven is a big star in the making and epitomizes the drive and spirit we want at Newcastle. We expect Steven to do great things for Newcastle and England in the future and itâ€™s scary as to how good he can become – with his attitude of constant improvement. We also think getting Sol Campbell in would help him big time – and he would learn very quickly from Sol. Steven has made 94 appearances for Newcastle and we expect him to be a future captain of the club.
- Charles N’Zogbia
Charles had a difficult season and didn’t play the number of games he would have liked to. With Duff being brought in he was often second choice but still managed to make 35 appearances for the club last season. He is a good player and has had a little trouble towards the end of the season with his discipline. We think Sam Allardyce will be able to help Charles a lot and he will become a better player because of it. He is ambitious – but we still think he can carry out his ambitions at Newcastle. We predict a good season for Charles next season – and expect him to remain at the club. He will turn 21 on May 28th.
- Paul Huntington
Drafted into the side at 19, earlier than anticipated, because of our injury problems Paul never let the side down and gained valuable experience last season appearing 16 times for the club â€“ and scored one cracking goal. While his natural position is center back he was played at full back a number of times – and like Peter Ramage â€“ full back is probably not his best position. At 6â€™ 3â€ he is good in the air and an excellent prospect. If we get a couple of strong center backs in during the summer we would expect Paul to be shipped out on loan to a Championship side to get much needed playing experience. Probably a future England under 21 international.
- David Edgar
Very much like Paulâ€™s case David was drafted into the side â€“ initially at left back and as far as we are concerned seemed to be the most natural full-back of the youngsters â€“ even though his natural position is center back. He made 4 appearances for Newcastle with 3 starts and scored a famous goal against Manchester United when he hit the equalizer at St. Jamesâ€™ Park from all of 30 yards. David was born in Canada of English parents and currently represents the Canada under 21 side.Like Huntington we expect David to be sent out on loan next season to a Championship side â€“ and we have great hopes for David for the future. His spirit and temperament are first class and he has everything it takes to be successful at Newcastle. (David scored for Canada under 21 earlier this month)
- Matty Pattison
20 year old South African Matty had appeared three times in the season before and much was expected of him as he was identified as the best player in the academy in the summer of 2005. Matty had a difficult year and made 12 aappearances for the club. He was often played out wide while his natural position is central mid-field. We may see Matty go out on loan depending on the strength of our mid-field in August. Selected for the full South African squad earlier in the year he had to withdraw through injury. Matty will be hoping to make the squad for the next world cup â€“ to be held in South Africa.
A good player who needs games
- Tim Krul
Tim is an outstanding young Dutch goalkeeper who starred for the Youth Side when they reached the semi=final of the youth the season before last. Only turned 19 in April and very highly thought of by the club. At 6â€™ 2â€ he resembles Edwin Van Der Saar and may be the goalkeeper to eventually take over from Edwin whenever he retires. Tim made a sensational debut in Parma when Newcastle won 1-0 in the UEFA Cup – and Tim made some crucial saves throughout the second half. He has the talent, temperament and determination to be a top goalkeeper in the future.
- Alan O’Brien
A good pacy left winger Alan had made 4 appearances towards the end of the previous season so much was expected of Alan. However, once Duff was signed this put Alan at least third in line behind Duff and N’Zogbia and consequently Alan appeared only 5 times last season. Wolves wanted to take him on loan early in the season but Roeder rejected the advances – but then O’Brien was never played (?). Alan may be sent out on loan – but not until Sam has taken a look at him.
The Youth Academy is now under the leadership of Joe Joyce and they had another outstanding year – reaching the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup falling to eventual winners Liverpool. Outstanding players this year were 18 year old Andrew Carroll a 6′ 3″ striker and 16 year old Kazenga Lua Lua, cousin of former player Lomana Tresor Lua Lua.
Both were featured on the bench for Newcastle and Carroll made 7 appearances for Newcastle and looked very good. Lua Lua has yet to make his first team debut for the club – but is very highly thought of.
Academy Manager Joe Joyce
We think Carroll may get a few games partnering Owen or Martins next season and he has recently been selected for the England under 19 squad.
Top clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool have their former youth team players as the foundation of their clubs.
With players like Scholes, Giggs, Neville, Oâ€™Shea, Carragher, Gerrard and Fowler – they give 100% effort and their commitment to the club is never a problem – and fans can relate easily to these players.
Home-grown talent is what we should have been producing for years – but now Newcastle have the structure in place – and we need to continue to make the investments to keep this going – it will save the club millions and millions in the future.
The Academy is doing its job and it shows clearly when the club reaches the semis of the Youth Cup two years running.
Keep it up!
That’s part 1 of our review – the youngsters were outstanding for us last season and we seem well positioned to continue to produce talented youngsters at the club.
Tomorrow we will feature part 2 of our season review: Old Guard.
As usual please give us your feedback and comments on this.