Newcastle Should Have Made More Effort To Retain O’Brien

One of the aspects of the game that Newcastle have never been good at is giving priority to the youngsters who have come through the Academy. We saw during last season that these lads play with heart and courage for the first team – but yet again we are losing a promising player in Alan O’Brien – because he will not be given enough games at the club.

Only last year the same thing happened to Michael Chopra who went on to score 22 goals for Cardiff in the Championship league last season and we sold him for a paltry £500K.


Alan O’Brien

Alan O’Brien reached a difficult decision to leave Newcastle for Hibernian – even after Sam Allardcye had offered the player improved terms to stay at the club. This is what Alan had to say yesterday.

“I’ve enjoyed my time at Newcastle United immensely, but I believe that with Hibernian I can progress at club and international level,” “Everyone in the game is aware of what has been happening at Hibernian over the last few years – the quality of young players coming through the ranks into first-team football is exceptional.”

Alan O’Brien joined Newcastle six years ago as a 16-year-old and started just two Premiership games for the club – despite his skill and lightning speed. Roeder even refused to let O’Brien leave for Wolves on a season long loan last year because he thought so much of him – and then never played O’Brien even when both Duff and N’Zogbia were out injured.

The writing was on the wall for Alan when we bought Damien Duff from Chelsea a year ago. It looked an odd deal at the time and it certainly upset the apple cart for both N’Zogbia and O’Brien – who had both performed well the previous season. In retrospect the Duff signing has not been good for Newcastle – we think it would have been far better to have given N’Zogbia and O’Brien a run of games on the left wing last season.

Look what happened when we did that to James Milner on the right wing – he was arguably Newcastle’s best player last year and played 60 games for us. Yet before the season started he was not held in high esteem at the club – almost being sold to Aston Villa on the last day of the transfer window.
Alan went on:

“Any player who has worked under Tommy will tell you their football education has benefited greatly from his influence and guidance,”
“I’m looking forward to working with him again. There’s also the opportunity to work with John Collins.

As a player, he has pretty much seen and done it all. As a manager he has already made a great impact.”

The Tommy he is referring to is Tommy Craig who was the Newcastle reserve team coach for quite a while. It is now being revealed that Roeder sacked Craig when he mysteriously left the club last season.

John Collins, the Hibs manager has promised O’Brien regular action at Easter Road. He said:

“Alan has chosen Hibernian to progress his career, knowing that this club continues to provide the best possible platform for a young player to learn and enjoy the game. Other clubs were drawn to him as his contract at Newcastle was coming to an end and we’re delighted to have signed him. Alan’s a young player who has had the best possible grounding at Newcastle and, while his first-team experience has been limited, his quality is without question.”

Giving our youngsters a decent chance is something we must try to correct as the boys start to come through the ranks. It certainly doesn’t send a good message to the likes of Paul Huntington, David Edgar and Matty Pattison – who are probably the next batch from the Academy to battle for first team positions.

Conments always welcome.

14 comments so far

  • Ian

    Jun 26, 2007 at 9:15 AM

    Comment #1

    I saw O’Brien a couple of times and possibly he should have been given a few more opportunities last season, so that he could really have been judged properly. Having said that, while he has bags of pace his crossing was very poor and Nzogbi is a much better prospect. This is probably a good opportunity for him to further his career.

  • Jeff

    Jun 26, 2007 at 9:21 AM

    Comment #2

    The thing is maybe those in the know might think he doesnt have enough to make the grade at newcastle….and in any case we have Duff and nzogbia for the left…Yes duff has to up his game and nzogbia has to get out his huff but they are two players ahead of obrien and he must feel he needs to move…….They reckon sam offered an extention to his contract but he has decided he would be better off moving…..Obrien is 22 and not a first team player and to be honest probably would struggle to get many starts this season..So I think he had to move on…………As for Chopra,he is playing at a standard that suits him…….He wasnt strong enough for the prem….and dont give me all this he never had enough chances……..He had more than enough and didnt prove himself…………He had more chances than Luque ever has and everyone apart from a hand full of people they want luque out the club….Why,the previous manage made a scape goat of luque…….Roeder tried to make Luque an example of the previous managers big money flops……….I hope Sam sticks to his word and gives Luque a fair go..

  • Craig

    Jun 26, 2007 at 9:31 AM

    Comment #3

    To be honest, I’m not at all fussed that O’Brien has left. I don’t think he was cut out for the Premiership, even at his young age and the fact that I only seen him on a couple of occasions – when I did see him he looked lost, a winger with pace, but with no final ball. The fact that he has moved to Hibs confirms the his standard. Matty Pattison should follow.

    As for Tommy Craig, not sure why Roeder let him go. He was highly respected at the club and regarded as a very good manager. Prefer him in there instead of Clarkie. That Geordie passion bullshit Shepherd used to go on about will never work. Tragic, really.

  • Guy Maxwell

    Jun 26, 2007 at 9:35 AM

    Comment #4

    Alan O’Brien is yet another one of the “promising” players who will make a decent living out of the game, but will make no major impact whatsoever.

    His biggest, possibly only, asset is his pace but that apart I can’t say that I ever saw anything in him that would suggest that he is able to cut the mustard at the highest level. His crossing is worse than N’Zogbia’s and I can’t say that I can think that I have seen any real skill in the player.

    Nice lad, tried hard, but frankly if we see our future in the likes of O’Brien then we are setting our sights far too low. In my opinion O’Brien is no better than the likes of Kerr, Offiong, Coppinger, Robinsion etc, all of who left for pastures new because they were never good enough for us.

  • Jeff

    Jun 26, 2007 at 9:39 AM

    Comment #5

    I agree with the geordie tag doesnt work……………Also get rid of Mcdermott what does he actually do????

  • Cicero

    Jun 26, 2007 at 9:39 AM

    Comment #6

    Does anyone know why Roeder sacked Tommy Craig? Strange that when Roeder had his fantastic run as caretaker manager Tommy was his assistant – maybe it was him who should have got the job and Roeder sent back to the academy.
    Does anyone know why Roeder sacked Tommy Craig? Strange that when Roeder had his fantastic run as caretaker manager Tommy was his assistant – maybe it was him who should have got the job and Roeder sent back to the academy.

    As far as O’Brien is concerned at 22 he should have been pushing for the first team 2 or 3 years ago.

  • Aaron D

    Jun 26, 2007 at 10:04 AM

    Comment #7

    Why should more effort been made, he was never going to break into the first team. He had an average season in the reserves, may have pace but thats all he’s got. With Duff as No.1 and N’Zogbia behind him. Even when they were injuryed Milner was played down the left. At 22 he’s played about 6 times as a sub, most players that are any good would have played far more by that age. Players in current squad that are younger and played far more games Martins 130ish games, Milner 150ish games, Talyor 90ish games and even Huntington, Edgar, Ramage, Pattison have player more games. He would of only been a reserve player at best.

  • joe

    Jun 26, 2007 at 10:16 AM

    Comment #8

    O’Brien was begining to lose his place in the reserve to one or two academy players. That shows the standard he was at. Cavener and Godsmark were played regularly with Pattison and one other as the experienced players along side. O’Brien clearly wasn’t good enough.

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 26, 2007 at 10:18 AM

    Comment #9

    Cicero – we can only think that Craig was sacked to make way for Lee Clark as reserve team coach – but as you may remember the whole thing was shrouded in mystery and the club hardly even made an announcmeent about it.

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 26, 2007 at 10:20 AM

    Comment #10

    We think the youngsters deserve say a 5-6 run game as starters – it’s hard -especially for youngsters – to make an impact when they are brought on for 15 minutes at the end of the game – although admittedly some do!

  • Darren

    Jun 26, 2007 at 11:25 AM

    Comment #11

    The trouble is you cannot afford to give youngsters 5 or 6 games nowadays.

    With each place in the premiership worth roughly 600k, you can’t even afford to play them at the back end of a season when there is little to play for.

    If they are good enough they will come through and push for a place, however most premiership managers would be happy with one a season, and if a player is 22+ then seriously, he isn’t going to cut it at this level.

    This past season has seen Huntingdon & Edgar look really promising so that is good to see.

    Ramage? I think the premiership is one level too high for him.

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 26, 2007 at 1:25 PM

    Comment #12

    Darren – a good point – however unfortunate.

  • joe

    Jun 26, 2007 at 4:55 PM

    Comment #13

    Ed – if a player cannot cut it at reserve level then why should he be given 6 games as a first team starter?

  • Craig

    Jun 26, 2007 at 10:39 PM

    Comment #14

    I have to agree with the majority of peoples thoughts on here. Like I said earlier; O’Brien was never good enough.

    Does anybody think Ramage and Pattison also fit that bill? Pastures New for them perhaps? I’d have to say ‘yes’.


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