Newcastle United’s local coach Alan Thompson, who played at Newcastle, Bolton, Aston Villa, Celtic, Leeds and Hartlepool during his excellent playing career, seems to have made the transition to caoch like a duck to water these last 12 months.
Alan Thompson – while at Celtic
Alan joined Newcastle last July, when Kevin Keegan was still at the club, and he seems to have made rapid strides after starting his coaching at the Academy level.
Certainly his first year as a coach at Newcastle could hardly have been more traumatic, with all the nonsense of last year that culminated in Newcastle getting relegated for the first time in 20 years.
He sees a lot of our promising youngsters coming through, and Alan talked to the Evening Chronicle earlier this week about Haris Vuckic:
“We signed him last season from FC Domzale.” “I’d never heard of them!” “But as soon as he came into the club there was something about him.”
“He caught the eye of people like Michael Owen and Mark Viduka last season in training, they were really impressed.” “I remember when he first walked on to the training field, people thought he was a 21-year-old. But he was only 16!”
“He is still one for the future – but a good one.” “He’s a big lad. He’s physically very good and he has great energy about him.”
“He can also run all day for the team. There’s a few of them who are a bit young still and aren’t ready for that step yet.” “But it’s good that they come into the reserves against older teams.”
“That’s a place where they can show they are physically up for it.”
Thompson has worked with Academy Director Richard Money for the last 12 months, as he uses his vast experience to nurture the young talent at St James’ Park.
And the 35 year-old (wonder if he fancies his chances of playing this season in the Championship?) has been delighted recently with Nile Ranger, Ryan Donaldson, Tamas Kadar and Vuckic for all getting their debuts for the first team.
But despite all the doom and gloom with owner Mike Ashley’s antics this summer, Alan believes the emergence of a crop of youngsters beginning to burst onto the scene at Newcastle, makes for a lot positives on Tyneside right now.
And Richard Money and the Academy staff are merely copying Chris and Colin at the first team level, and getting on with the job to be done.
“That’s what we are here for.” “Kenny Wharton has them up until Under-18 and then if they are good enough he will pass them on to me.”
“That’s what we are trying to achieve – get as many through as we can.” “It’s nice when the first team are winning. Hopefully that can rub off on the rest of us.”
“It’s looking good at the moment on a lot of different fronts – long may it continue.”
Thompson played over 180 times for Celtic with around 40 goals, and got his only cap for England in 2004, when he played for England against Sweden, which he admits was the pinnacle of his career – but he only ever played once for the full England side.
Alan is the only player ever to be capped by England, while playing for Celtic.
We’re pleased the local lad, who had such a great playing career, is back at his home town club, sharing his experience to bring along our hugely talented youngsters.