Only minutes before kick-off against Chelsea, Newcastle first team coach Paul Simpson was asked about the team selected and especially the Premier League debut for Kevin Mbabu against the reigning Champions.
At the time, I must admit that I thought Simpson’s words had the ring of somebody who was hoping for the best and trying to show blind faith in a player who would be up against real class players such as Hazard and Pedro.
However, after the match….
This is what Paul Simpson had to say after the teams were announced late Saturday afternoon:
“It is a great day for Kevin Mbabu, he deserves his opportunity. I thought he showed great energy on Wednesday night (League Cup defeat by Sheff Wed when he came on as a sub) and looked unfazed.
“We wanted to have a bit of continuity, we felt it was important to try and keep as much of the goalkeeper and back four together as we possibly could.”
Rather than play Mbemba out of position:
“Rather than play Chancel Mbemba out of position again, we just thought Kevin Mbabu deserved his opportunity.
“I’m sure Kevin will enjoy it; he’s enthusiastic, he’s energetic and that is all we want isn’t it? A team that is going to work their socks off.”
Isn’t it great when a plan comes together!
Kevin Mbabu had a great match and if anything, was guilty of being too confident on the odd occasion, getting caught too far forward – though to his credit he showed that great energy that Paul Simpson talks about in order to get back and help defend.
It is great to see a young player getting his chance and responding so well.
I also think that it was 100% the right move to limit changes as much as possible, as Simpson stated.
Far too often in recent years, particularly under Alan Pardew, you would sometimes have two or three positional changes in the team because one player was missing.
Surely if certain players such as Kevin Mbabu are in you rsquad then you have to trust them sometime, rather than unsettle the whole team.
(To read our instant fan/writer reaction to the Chelsea performance go HERE)