After yet another dismal campaign last season, Peter Beardsley had reason to smile on Monday.
Newcastle’s reserves won only four matches across the entire 2015/16 season but with Rafa Benitez having set in motion plans to strengthen below the first team, the United second string kicked off with a win yesterday.
Travelling to Norwich City, Newcastle won 3-0 and Peter Beardsley said afterwards ‘I will say it again, when you have your best players, you’ll have a good team, no doubt about it.’
This being a reference to regularly last season having to call on younger players to supplement claimed understrength reserve options.
As it happens it was two players who Newcastle are desperate to shift who scored the goals, Haris Vuckic with two and Gael Bigirimana with the other.
For some bizarre reason 12 months ago Newcastle extended Haris Vuckic’ contract by another year, despite the player not having figured in first team plans for a long long time. He turns 24 next week and he looks yet another player who is a victim of Newcastle keeping far too long,
Gael Bigirimana is another, he was given a ridiculously long five year contract back in 2012 and with no signs of movement this summer, could end up seeing out the final year wasting his time in the United second string.
Peter Beardsley speaking to the official club website:
“Almost one to 11 played really well, so it was great. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, when you have your best players, you’ll have a good team, no doubt about it.
“To be fair to the kids – they ran around, they showed a good attitude and the played some good football. The pitch was immaculate and they probably won’t play on a better pitch this season.
“Everything was perfect and the way they reacted and the way they played, having travelled a long way overnight, was really good.
“It was an all-round good game. Norwich tried to play football, which at times thankfully played into our hands, and if you look at the reaction around the dressing room everyone is very happy.
“But it is one game, and the great thing is for them that they’ve got to go and try to win more games, and also play well. Today, we played well and won.”
The reserve set-up has changed this season and is Under 23s instead of Under 21s, with still the option of playing a certain number of older players.
Peter Beardsley was particularly pleased with his youngest player yesterday, 18 year old Sean Longstaff, who earned the penalty that Bigirimana scored from.
“To be fair to Sean, he was outstanding today. He earned the right to be in the team, really, because he’s the youngest of that group, and all the others are senior.
“There was a place for a younger one, and he earned the right to be there.
“He was very much involved in our forward play. He’s a good number ten, he’s got the energy to get around the pitch, and I’m sure he’ll be pleased with his work.”