Newcastle didn’t always have a good Youth Academy, or even a Reserve side for that matter.
Michael Carrick – one that got away
When Kevin Keegan was at the club, he did away with the Reserve side, and we never could understand that, but it cost Newcastle a few top youngsters at the time, because where were they going to get a game as they progressed through the club, from the U18s?
John Carver was involved when Newcastle could have had Michael Carrick at Newcastle, when he was playing for Wallsend Boys Club at the time (1996), but instead he went to West Ham United, simply because he could see himself progressing and getting games down south.
It didn’t help that Michael made his debut for West Ham in July of 1999, when he was only 17, and in his early days, when he played for the England Boy’s team, he was a center forward, and it was only while he was at the Hammers that he was transformed into a central midfield player.
This is what John Carver had to say about Michael today, because John was involved with the youngsters at Newcastle at the time.
“I think the reason why we’ve had a problem since then is because we’ve had so many people in charge of the Academy,” “It’s never been that we’re not bothered with it, we just haven’t had the continuity. We haven’t had people to see a certain development program through.”
“When Kevin Keegan was the manager we did away with the reserve team. I was with the center of excellence at the time and that period was difficult for this football club, because we had no reserve team.”
“We lost Michael Carrick because of it. His parents asked ‘Where’s he going to play John’.” “I said the first team and they told me to come off it. We had the Entertainers so he was never going to get in there. So they took him to West Ham.”
“Now the kids are seeing the young Ameobi coming through, Haris Vuckic, who’s been in the system a long time. Shane Ferguson is the same.”
“I think the encouraging thing for the football club is that the young players are coming through. And there’s a pathway for them now, which there maybe wasn’t when the club was spending a lot of money on new players.
“The culture is changing. The manager has said he will play them if they’re good enough – look at Fergie with Stoke. The size of Fergie against Stoke of all teams – yet he still had the confidence in him to do the job.”
Carrick was part of the West Ham United squad that won the FA Youth Cup in the 1998–99 season, and the 6’2″ midfielder scored twice in the two-legged 9–0 final victory over Coventry City.
Players in that side also included Joe Cole, and Chris Kirkland was the Coventry City goalkeeper.
Not to rub it in, but Michael played for all the England Youth sides, and has so far played 22 times for the full England side, and joined Manchester United in the summer of 2006 for £14M.
Never again should we lose local players of the caliber of a Michael Carrick or Alan Shearer for that matter.
Newcastle had to pay out £15M, then a world record fee, to get Alan to Newcastle in 1996 from Blackburn Rovers, after he had joined Southampton when he was just 15.
So it’s worth the money put into the Academy, because there are cases like, that where the club can save big money.
And while it was unfortunate Andy Carroll was sold last January, the club still made £35M from Liverpool, who came through the Academy.
And in today’s world at Newcastle we could buy 25 players with that kind of money.
Newcastle seem to be on the right track with a lot of things this season, and one of them is definitely continuing to invest in the Newcastle Youth Academy.
As we have seen it can pay massive dividends in the future of the Newcastle club.