One of the frustrations of recent years has been the lack of youth development at NUFC.
Sunday morning felt that nothing had changed, as our ‘preferred media partner’ reported that the club had been trying to ship off one of our young stars at cut price in the Aarons/Austin story.
Having read the fallout of this story, not only does it seem to be agent talk, it also isn’t representative of what is going on under Steve McClaren at the moment.
It frustrates me that we will continue to see the likes of Obertan and Gouffran on the bench this season rather than youngsters, but it is starting to make sense that the slow transition will help stabilise the club.
As Adam Armstrong picks up a Player of the Month award, he also joins up with the England U19’s alongside Freddie Woodman. Both players getting a good mix of first team football and international age group action. Players getting some quality football is key.
Ideally the likes of Callum Roberts will also join them on the road this season and I would imagine after Christmas Ivan Toney may also get a few months (maybe back at Northampton).
So what is my point? My point is that we have always seemed to ship players off on loan at random. There was no strategy in the clubs chosen and it was usually just because we had decided they weren’t good enough.
The difference this time is that these two already seem to be genuinely benefiting from the experience and it is actually exciting to see them getting first team football. Apart from Remi Streete’s spell with Port Vale, the last youngster we shipped out for a truly successful loan was Steven Taylor under Tony Adams at Wycombe all of those years ago.
Since Chris Hughton left, it has felt that the club was only a first team. Players rotted in the reserves. They went on loan to non league clubs. They were not being coached to break through (and if they did get into the first team they would then float around primarily as bench warmers). Now there seems a direction.
It also then gives a role for the likes of Williamson, Obertan and Gouffran – they are allowing us to develop the youngsters to give value to the bench next season.
With the stories over the weekend that Newcastle will look to invest in U21 talent in January, we must hope that Aarons, Perez, Lascelles and Darlow are going to be coached through this season, supported by their less talented but more experienced team mates.
If this is the strategy, then we can hope that as they step up, the Armstrong, Toney, Roberts and Woodman group are then in place to do so next year.
It may be blind faith, but I do now at least have hope that we have a strategy to develop young talent through our squad.
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