This week former Newcastle youngster Callum Roberts signed a contract until the end of this season with Blyth Spartans who are coached by former Newcastle midfielder Lee Clark.
It was a big coup for Clark and Blyth as Callum had scored 9 goals in 9 games for the club. He had joined them on August 30th on a non-contract.
The Chronicle have done an extensive interview with the 22-year-old after he signed his new contract. In the interview, one of the areas that were touched upon was what exactly went wrong at Newcastle.
It seems that Callum had expected to get a new contract with the club he had been at since 2005. However, he was informed late last season that he would be released this summer.
Callum only had two first-team appearances for Newcastle. He was given his debut in the FA Cup in 2015 by then-interim manager John Carver. His second appearance was earlier this year, again in the FA Cup, against Blackburn in which he scored his only goal for Newcastle.
Roberts seems to think that it was the upheaval in the managerial ranks that ultimately led to him not getting a full crack at Newcastle. This is what Callum had to say:
“I think I was unfortunate with the manager changes, because I think if Alan Pardew or JC had stayed I think I would have got more of a chance. But the change of managers leads to a change of plans.
“Pardew was really good with young players, and me in particular. He would speak to us all the time in training, he’d tell me what I can do better, tell me what I was doing well at.
“Then Carver took over with Peter [Beardsley], and I think that was a big help in my debut because I had a really good relationship with Peter. We got on really well together, obviously he was a player who played in my position so he helped me a lot.
“When Steve McClaren was there, I got the impression he really didn’t fancy us. He would put others ahead of me who had never been ahead of me before.
“It’s just whatever the manager fancies at the end of the day.
“The only thing you can control is your performances, and if he thinks your performances aren’t good enough he’s never going to pick you.”
Callum seemed to have a bright future back when Alan Pardew was the coach. We remember some promising reports of a pacy local lad rising through the ranks.
However, Alan decided to move on to Crystal Palace in late 2014, and in came John Carver. While Callum may have enjoyed having Carver as the manager, we certainly don’t have fond memories of his tenure.
The following summer Carver was not retained and Steve McClaren was appointed. The rest is history as Steve McClaren proved a hapless choice and Rafa Benitez was ultimately brought in to try and salvage Newcastle’s place in the Premier League. It proved to be too big of a task.
However, it was a brief respite for Newcastle fans as we finally had a world-class manager in charge. While Callum would have to wait a few years for another chance in the Newcastle first team, it was Rafa who would hand it to him.
Last January, Rafa gave Callum his shock start in the FA Cup against Blackburn. His goal in that game will certainly be a moment that Callum will always remember.
That was also the game that Sean Longstaff scored his first goal for Newcastle in.
This is how Callum described the day leading up to that FA Cup match:
“Benitez would always set his team up the day before in training to work on the shape and set pieces to get you prepared.
“At the start of every session he’d read the team out and say to these lads put the bibs on, you’re starting tomorrow.
“I wasn’t expecting it all, so when he read my name out I was shocked. I thought I was going to be on the bench just to make the numbers up.
“I didn’t know what to do with myself.”
Newcastle would win the match with two extra-time goals for a 2-4 victory at Ewood Park. It was just the beginning for Sean Longstaff but the bitter end for Callum Roberts.
Roberts has since been on trial with Burnley, Middlesbrough and Southend United before landing at Blyth Spartans. There was even some talk of him joining former Newcastle defender Nikos Dabizas at Panathinaikos in Greece, where Dabizas is the director.
However, Callum will see out the rest of this year at Blyth. He is likely too good for this level of football and will hope to attract some attention from other clubs. We wish him all the best as he continues on his footballing path.