In exactly one week's time, the Premier League campaign kicks off for yet another season, one which holds a lot of expectation for Newcastle United. We spoke to Peter Beardsley, who is no stranger to the taste of success in a Newcastle shirt, about what we can expect to see this season from the Toon Army.
Towards the back-end of last season, a three-pronged attack of Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba stunned fans and opponents with several scintillating performances and frightening attacking displays that saw opponents such as Liverpool and Chelsea brushed aside and made to look like mediocre opponents.
Beardsley highlighted just how much of an impact they can have next season by comparing them to the three-pronged attack of Keegan, Waddle and himself that led the club to promotion to the First Division in 1984.
“KK was class and Waddle was class, but, when you look at Cisse, the way he came in and scored all those goals and, when I look at Ben Arfa, he’s just, technically, in a different class. They’ve got so much ability and, with Demba Ba in the first part of the season, I think the three of them could be much better. I really think they’re top class”
Whilst last season was a major shock to the majority of Newcastle fans, Beardsley told us that, inside the club, it wasn’t as much of a surprise and put a lot of that down to Alan Pardew:
“When I look at how professional the manager has been and how organised he’s been and how disciplined, everything he’s done has just been top class and you could understand why we finished 5th because the atmosphere around the place has been really positive, never negative, and I think the manager has certainly got to take most of the credit, but, obviously, he’s got some good players here that he’s made the best of”
Whilst he admitted the team may have over-achieved last term, he said:
“You never accept, having finished 5th, that you might not do as well” before adding “You go out with the same attitude, the same drive and ambition to finish 5th again, or even better, but, if they had a good run in one of the cups and finish 5th/6th/7th, I don’t think it would be the end of the world.”
This season sees Newcastle’s return to European football, and Beardsley showed just how special it was for him, personally, and the club as a whole
“Personally, I just think it’s exciting. I just think it’s brilliant. I can never understand when clubs that have got into the Europa league in the last 3 or 4 years and, really, don’t appear to be taking it seriously.
They’re quite happy to be out of it and I wonder why you strive all season to get 5th, 6th, 7th, whatever and then, when it comes to next season, think ‘forget it’. I know, in some ways, – the likes of Tottenham last year – they let a few younger players play and hopefully that develops them, but I’m sure the manager will be having a good run at it” before adding “It goes back to what the manager’s thinking, If he’s thinking ‘let’s go for it’, then he might try and play the first 11 until Christmas, but he might also think ‘we’ll give the young lads a chance’ with the likes of Mehdi Abeid, Haris Vuckic, Bigirimana, Tavernier, Sammy Ameobi.
I can’t tell you what he (Pardew) is thinking but, once the first game comes round, then you start to get into it and, once you get into it, you want to win every game”
One of the prospects hoping to break into the first-team next season will be Haris Vuckic. The 19-year-old has been tipped for stardom since arriving in January 2009. However, first-team chances have been limited and Beardsley, who coached Vuckic in the reserves from the ages of about 16-18, admits that, whilst he will probably play a bigger role at the club this season, he may not break into the first-team just yet.
“It’s awkward when I look at how many good players the manager has to call on. I think he will, probably, be more involved, but it depends, I honestly can’t tell you how the manager is going to rotate, as in Europe and the Carling Cup, whether he is going to play the young ones, but it depends.
If he (Pardew) goes flat-out, as he did last season, he might not break through, but I don’t see that as a problem. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was sent out on loan and developed more that way.
When I look at it, with Bigirimana coming in, who is, obviously, a top player, we’ve got a lot of depth there in the squad now and most times, I would think Cabaye and Tiote would be the main two, barring injuries.
I think the great thing is, now, he trains with the first team every day and he’s obviously developing in that way. The manager is very positive towards him and he’s done a good job”
We’d like to thank Peter Beardsley for giving us the opportunity to interview him ahead of the new season. There appears to be a lot of optimism throughout the camp at the moment and this can only be a good sign.
Howay the lads