The 2012-2013 season certainly wasn’t one to remember for Newcastle United fans. From finishing 5th in the 2011-2012 season, there are clearly things the club needs to work on.
I remember around two years ago, a few friends and I were kicking a ball around at Complete Football in Gosforth, and there was a crowd of people around one of the 5-a-side pens. We went over to see what all the fuss was about, and that’s when I first saw Adam Campbell play. Every time he received the ball, excitement grew among the crowd, as the 5’7” 18 year old stepped past player after player, before neatly slotting the ball into the bottom corner past a helpless, stunned keeper.
Of course, emerging as a stand out player in the company of Geordie youths is nothing to shout about, but you could tell there was something special about him. I recall thinking that there was, dare I say it, a hint of Messi about him.
The young man from North Shields ultimately, and deservingly, made his competitive debut on the 23rd August last year against Atromitos in the Europa League, after shining for the reserve team. The fans instantaneously and collectively loved him. This is not only because he’s a home-grown player, but it was clear he was a hard worker, and had an overwhelming passion for the club.
He finished the campaign having made 5 appearances, but contributed no goals or assists. At first this doesn’t seem a remarkable set of statistics, but I believe its lack of confidence more than lack of ability. Campbell has been suspect to ‘hiding’ from the ball when he has played, but who can blame him? Playing for your home club in front of 52,000 highly demanding fans cannot be easy, especially when you’re playing in such high level competitions such as the Premier League and Europa League. If you make a mistake at St James, the fans make sure you know about it!
How do you raise a player’s confidence then? In my opinion, the only thing you can do is give them more game time. This is certainly what Chelsea did with Torres during his low times. Amongst many of the ambiguous decisions Pardew made last season, the lack of game time given to Campbell was one of the greatest disappointments. It is a guarantee that Campbell will give 100%, and it’s fair to say one or two of the regular players do not give this level of effort at all times.
Having said that, even when you put in everything you’ve got, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be successful. We see this phenomenon occur in sport all the time, for example, Andy Murray’s heart-breaking loss in the Wimbledon final last year (let’s hope he can redeem himself this Sunday!). However, it’s clear for everyone to see that Campbell has what it takes to become a real star.
Who knew that the small redheaded kid acting as a mascot in Newcastle’s 4-0 win over Bolton in 2001, would eventually be gracing the hallowed turf of St James 11 years later. He isn’t just making up the numbers either; lightening pace, startling agility and a forceful shot are attributes that any professional footballer craves for, and Campbell has all of these talents, at the tender age of 18.
Many changes need to take place in our squad next season. Some players need to come in, and some need to go, but I believe Campbell could be instrumental to our desired future success. What’s more, I don’t think Kinnear has said his name wrong yet, which must be a good thing?
Henry George Winter