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The Disgraceful Reality Of Newcastle United Youth Development Under Mike Ashley and Alan Pardew

8 years ago

The Newcastle United youth development…you might very well say ‘what youth development’?

While Alan Pardew is keen to talk about having the best set-up at the club, especially with regard to young players, since he came – what is the reality?

The Newcastle manager has made grand claims that anything up to half a dozen of the 16/17 year olds coming through  might make it, but it is easy to try and cover up the true situation with waffle, that can then be further waffled away at a later date.

This is the list of players who started Premier League matches for Newcastle United this season, going from Krul with 36 at the top, down to Marveaux and Elliot with 2 line-ups each. The current age of each player is in brackets.

36 Krul (26)

35 Sissoko (24)

32 Williamson (30)

31 Gouffran (27)

31 Tiote (27)

28 Anita (25)

28 Debuchy (28)

27 Coloccini (32)

26 Santon (23)

24 Remy (27)

17 Cabaye (28)

17 Mapou (24)

15 Cisse (28)

14 Shola (32)

13 Ben Arfa (27)

11 Dummett (22)

  9 Steven Taylor (28)

  8 De Jong (23)

  4 Gosling (24)

  4 Sammy Ameobi (22)

  3 Haidara (21)

  2 Elliot (28)

  2 Marveaux (28)

Newcastle United have not had one player under the age of 21 start a Premier League match this season, Haidara having already turned 21 before he made his paltry 3 starts.

It gets worse, only three players who are now under 23 began a Premier League match for Newcastle this season.

A grand total of 18 matches, with Dummett (11), Sammy (4) and Haidara (3). If Davide Santon hadn’t picked up injuries then the total would likely have not been much more than half a dozen.

When criticised, Alan Pardew has been keen to compare Newcastle to Southampton, spinning a line that they’re getting praise yet Newcastle have nearly done as well as them…

The big difference Alan is that the Saints are a club on the up, a club with young players coming through (not to mention having (plus they have Lallana, Lambert and Shaw all going to Brazil – it could have been four Southampton players if Rodriguez hadn’t been injured) who can be the backbone for years to come, or valuable assets who may be picked off and enable Southampton to reinvest in the team/squad.

These are the Southampton players now aged 22 and under who have started Premier League matches this past season for the Saints, number of games started before each name and their age in brackets;

35 Shaw (18)

34 Ward-Prowse (19)

23 Wanyama (22)

22 Chambers (19)

18 Gallagher (18)

  8 Gazzaniga (22)

  4 Reed (19)

So five Southampton players who are still under the age of 20 have played this season, with all but one of them playing at least half a season of matches and 22 year old Wanyama playing 22 games and Gazzaniga who’s the same age, playing 8 as well.

While there is talk of Shaw going to Manchester United for around £30m, does anybody doubt that each and every one of those seven players is going to be better next season on the back of the experience gained? You are talking about half of the team having been first team regulars that are 22 and under, with Gallagher a first team regular since December.

Personally I don’t think Paul Dummett has what it takes for the Premier League, which then leaves Sammy and Haidara with a handful of starts between them this past season.

Mike Ashley has been here seven years and Alan Pardew three and a half, they have brought Newcastle United to this point of absolutely no medium or long-term strategy (or short-term for that matter).

No plan as to how young players will filter through gradually into the first team, with sadly Paul Dummett being used by the club as a token young homegrown player when there are better bought in alternatives such as Haidara.

A few years ago we had grand claims that Mike Ashley was putting £10m into the Academy, while the Wonga deal was attempted to be sugared by claims that part of their money is directly going into the Academy, as though a sponsor’s money is really ring-fenced in such a way. If you believe that…

The club had the embarrassment of failing to win Category One status in 2012, while the likes of Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Wolves and Blackburn sailed through. Then in recent weeks the club claim it as some kind of triumph when two years later they eventually are passed fit for that top level.

The people who don’t know Newcastle United and/or live outside the region and wonder why we were worried/moaning/protesting when we were ninth in the table, make that tenth in the end…

This is why, Newcastle United have no foundations under Mike Ashley, the club is built on quicksand and playing wise is solely what you see in the first team, which once Cabaye and Remy have been stripped away, looks a pretty ugly proposition as well.

Not much pressure on Adam Armstrong…

Yes we all really hope Adam Armstrong and others come through but for any who do (and they are real longshots at such an age), it will be despite what is happening inside St.James’ Park, not because of it.

Our club is massively on the slide and if Ashley & Pardew succeed in getting Newcastle relegated next season, or at best a season of dour relegation threatened football, what would we be left with if the handful of decent senior players that we still have left then bailed out?

There is no structure, either on or off the pitch, that can bring sensible sustained progress to Newcastle United. The club is just a shell and the blame lies right at Mike Ashley’s door.


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