Would Matty Longstaff and Sean Longstaff have ever got a chance without injuries?
Matty Longstaff is the toast of Tyneside.
His brother Sean not far behind.
They were the star acts along with Fabian Schar, as Newcastle United banked an essential three points against our friends from Manchester.
However, would either of them have ever got a chance if injury/suspension hadn’t forced the issue?
Before anybody shouts out, this isn’t a Steve Bruce thing.
There are a lot of things I would blame him for but not on this occasion, at least not specifically.
The fact remains though, if it hadn’t been for suspension and injuries, would Matty Longstaff have ever got on a Premier League pitch this season?
This season, Matty Longstaff had only previously been on the bench once for a league game, with injuries leading him to be an unused sub in the 3-1 defeat at Anfield in September. However, before Sunday, he hadn’t even been included in the matchday squad again.
His only first team football was when Steve Bruce played almost an entire second team in the League Cup defeat to Leicester, Matty getting the full 90 minutes in place of first team players.
On Sunday, Isaac Hayden was suspended, Ki was out injured and Jonjo Shelvey on the bench after injury, according to reports still not fully fit.
So, if it hadn’t been for these circumstances ruling every other midfield option out, would Matty Longstaff have ever got a first team chance in the Premier League.
Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the restriction on how many senior players you can name in your official PL squad, I assume Jack Colback would have also played ahead of the younger Longstaff against Man Utd.
As I said above, this isn’t a Steve Bruce specific, more of a club thing.
The case of Sean Longstaff very much mirrors that of his brother’s.
Sean was given his first team debut by Rafa Benitez in the League Cup defeat to Forest in August 2018.
However, he didn’t get a Premier League chance until 26 December 2018. Rafa bringing him off the bench at Liverpool with the game already lost.
Even then it took further injuries before Rafa gave him a proper chance, starting in the 2-1 defeat at Chelsea only because there were literally no other midfield options, no midfielder named amongst the subs.
Sean Longstaff had actually been named six times on a PL bench before he got on the pitch at Anfield due to injuries to others but Rafa Benitez had never given him a chance.
Of course once he got that chance to start against Chelsea in January alongside Isaac Hayden, Sean Longstaff never looked back. Only injury bringing an end to an impressive run of form.
The thing is that it appears to be very much a Newcastle United thing, I don’t recall the likes of Alan Pardew and Steve McClaren giving young players a chance unless forced.
Who knows which young players might have made it if given a proper chance?
At other clubs such as Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool and others, they seem far more ready to give their young players a chance.
Is it simply because their young players are better than Newcastle’s or is it more a different culture at those clubs, seeing the benefits of taking more ‘risks’ in seeing if players coming through the ranks can make the step up.
One thing that doesn’t help of course is the feeble cup record under Mike Ashley. If it was the norm to have cup runs then that gives young players more opportunities and in more high pressure situations to prove themselves, the further you progress. Meaning they would have more opportunity to show they could be worth a go in the Premier League.
At the end of the day, when you have so many average players in your first team squad, for a club such as Newcastle United surely it makes sense to give youth more of a chance.
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