Newcastle United have just had promising young winger James Milner signed up for the next four years when they gave him a new and improved contract last week.
We expect the same thing to be happening to Steven Taylor within the next couple of weeks – as we mentioned yesterday â€“ as reward for his excellent play. Taylor and Milner were probably Newcastle’s best two performers last season even though both are only 21 years-old and born in January, 1986.
Let’s take a look today at James Milner.
James, the Yorkshire-born midfielder, who is a regular starter along with Taylor for the England under-21s, already had a contract through 2009 but Newcastle were keen to get him signed on an extended deal. James’ two-year extension is just reward for the 21-year-old, who was one of the club’s most consistent performers last season. Milner was signed for around 3.8M from Leeds United in the summer of 2004 while still only 18 years old – but even then he had made over 50 appearances for the then Premier league side.
He played 53 times in the 2006/07, scoring four excellent rocket-like goals, and tying Shay Given for the most number of appearances in a season by any Newcastle player. Combining the many England Under-21 internationals he played last season – he actually played over 60 first class games.
Yet in the previous season â€“ played largely under Graeme Souness â€“ he was loaned out to Aston Villa and made 33 appearances for the Midlands club. It seemed that James was never popular with Souness who once made the famous quote â€œwe’ll never win anything with a team full of James Milners.â€ The Liverpool mantra of the Shankly and Paisley years â€“ often expressed by their players today â€“ is you need older more experienced players to win anything.
After almost being sold to Aston Villa last August 31st in embarrassing circumstances for the youngster â€“ he was recalled at the last minute by Glenn Roeder after seemingly being surplus to requirements. The deal broke down when Viduka failed to sign at the last moment from Middlesbrough. Milner however handled the situation in his stride – and it speaks mountains for his maturity that all he did when he got back to Newcastle was to get his head down – and concentrate on being successful. Just shows you what can happen when you work very hard and have a great attitude to boot (excuse the pun).
After James signed his contract he told the official Newcastle World TV on Friday:
“I’m delighted to have signed a new contract,”
“Newcastle United is a great football club and hopefully I can be here for a few more years yet and help the team be a success.
“It’s certainly exciting times at the club and I am very happy to be a part of it.”
Milner will be looking forward to his first season under new manager Sam Allardyce, who has already called both Taylor and Milner the backbone of his team. James Milner has already played for Newcastle 104 times scoring 8 goals. He played for Aston Villa 33 times scoring 3 goals and while at Leeds played 54 times scoring 5 goals. In the 2003-2004 season he was loaned out to Swindin Town and played 6 games for them scoring 2 goals. Since he is still only 21 – James has been a very productive player so far in his career appearing a total of almost 200 times in first class games.
Finally, we think Sam could be surprised at just how good some of our youngsters are â€“ given the performances of the likes of Huntington, Edgar, Krul and Carroll last season. It remains to be seen how Sam will develop these players – and whether some will be allowed to go out on loan for the full season. Certainly they need games to develop – just look what happened to James Milner last season when he got a string of games.