With the open day yesterday at the Newcastle Youth Academy, we are starting to find out more out about what’s going on inside the Academy.
Mike Ashley – takes big interest in Newcastle youngsters
And if there’s one good thing Mike Ashley’s done since he bought Newcastle United in the summer of 2007, it’s to start a drive to get good youngsters into the club.
But while we have seen some good ones come through like Andy Carroll, Tim Krul, Sammy Ameobi, Haris Vuckic and more recently Mehdi Abeid, we have not really seen enough develop into first team players during Mike’s tenure at the club - not yet anyway.
It all started when then Chairman Chris Mort announced the strategy of building up the Youth Academy, and the club brought in five top youngsters in January of 2008.
Those five were Hungarian Tamas Kadar, Swede Ole Soderburg, Englishman Ben Tozer, Italian Fabio Zamblera and Frenchman Wesley Baheng, and all will have left Newcastle by this summer.
Ben Tozer and Fabio Zamblera have already left Newcastle, so it wasn’t a great start, although we must admit we thought Tamas Kadar would come through big time.
But the lad seems to have lost his way over the last year, with several injuries not helping, and he didn’t even make the American tour last July.
It seems that manager Alan Pardew has persuaded owner Mike Ashley to invest even more money into the Youth Academy, and Alan has pointed out that not enough of the youngsters are coming through and making an impact in the first team squad.
Alan Pardew and Joe Joyce will allow twelve youngsters to leave the club in the summer, and we expect new top youngsters to arrive in the summer, but there’s no doubt the standards will now be raised at the Academy.
Youth Academy manager Joe Joyce talked about the interest Mike Ashley takes in the Newcastle youngsters:
“Mike has been down to see the Academy and speak of his vision for the future.” “It is something he cannot be involved with on a daily basis, but he is constantly given information about who is progressing.”
“And Mike takes an interest in the structure and the running, financing and productivity of the Academy.” “Ultimately, that is what we are here to do – produce players.”
“It is very difficult to produce players for a Premier League club.” “They have to be international players.” “With the opportunity this club is prepared to provide, we have seen Tim Krul this season make a big mark on the big stage.”
“Sammy Ameobi has had first-team football, as has Haris Vuckic.” “There are one or two players in the Academy who can compete at that level.”
“We have to make sure if we do get an Andy Carroll into the team and he moves on, we get the next player into his boots – that is the long-term vision.”
The strategy that Ashley has initiated in addition to the Youth movement is to get good players into the club on free transfers or on very good deals, and there’s no doubt that Newcastle have been successful in doing that over the last two years or so.
It’s a good strategy and Newcastle have invested a lot into the scouting network, and it seems to have already paid off with some stellar bargains in the last couple of years like Cheick Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Mehdi Abeid.
More players like that over the next eighteen months or so and Newcastle will indeed have a top squad.
We are hoping we will see more good acquisitions in the summer, when Newcastle have the chance to increase and improve their squad, so we could even be challenging for a top four spot next season.
That would be a stretch target, with maybe a top six finish being an official target for the season?