Rafa Benitez gets the chance to take in his first Newcastle match as manager, when Peter Beardsley sends the reserves out to play West Ham on Friday night.
It gives the younger players a chance to play at St James Park, plus it remains to be seen whether Rafa Benitez asks for one or two senior players to be included so he can have a look at them.
If you think things are bad with the first team’s record of only six wins in 28 Premier League matches this season, you should have a look at the stats for the reserves under Peter Beardsley.
The reserves (Under 21s), who play in the second division of the second string set-up, have only won six games from 1 January 2015 onwards, giving them a record of P34 W6 D9 L19.
This season so far the record is P19 W4 D5 L10, with the final part of last season (from 1 January 2o15) reading P15 W2 D4 L9.
Peter Beardsley says that whatever happens in training, all players are judged on what they do in competitive matches.
Let’s hope we very soon see positive signs of this throughout the whole club, from the first team down to the Academy – because the record of all teams at Newcastle has been appalling in recent times.
Whilst Rafa Benitez has arrived with his own backroom staff to replace all but Simon Smith (Goalkeeping Coach) and Ian Cathro at senior level, the likes of Peter Beardsley and Dave Watson must surely have their own positions looked at as soon as possible when you look at the records of both the reserves and academy teams they look after.
Peter Beardsley speaking to the official club website:
“It’s brilliant experience for them (playing at St James Park). Some of them will be on the bench for us and will then go and play (for the under-18s) at Stoke at 11 o’clock the next morning, but that’s the reality. If I’m a kid and I’m on the bench at St. James’ on Friday night, I’d want to go and play at Stoke, because that’s what football’s about.
“You’re judged on what you do on an 11-a-side pitch. You’re not judged on what you do in training every day, it’s what you do on the pitch, and ultimately people notice that.
“They want to play football, and I think it’ll be a good game. The 2-2 down there was very good. Ivan (Toney) scored a great goal and was outstanding for us that night.
“It was great for us to play at Upton Park in their last season there, and it’s great for them to come and play at St. James’. It’s always exciting for the kids to play at St. James’. It doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or 35, it’s a brilliant venue and at this stage of the season, the pitch is always immaculate.
“It’s a brilliant occasion for them. Even me now, standing there as a coach, it’s really exciting and I love it. It’s special for them, and the more they play there, the more special it becomes for me.
“Playing on a Friday night, hopefully there’ll be a few fans come out and there’ll be a decent crowd.”
Entrance is free for members/season ticket holders to the Under 21s match tonight at St James Park, £3 for adults and £1 concessions if you aren’t.
Kick-off is 7pm and it is the East Stand which is open to fans.