Matty Longstaff has received a lot of column inches in the last two weeks, which has seen pundit Pat Nevin sing his, and his brother’s, praises on Chelsea’s official club website, ahead of Newcastle’s Stamford Bridge trip this weekend.
But Newcastle’s elder statesman, goalkeeper Rob Elliot, is more cautious over the overtures being thrown his way, and told the Chronicle he hopes Matty can be protected from the pressure being placed on him to succeed.
Speaking about the Longstaffs, Chelsea legend Nevin said: “The young Longstaff brothers in midfield last week were the epitome of the pride in their play and in their shirts that the home fans wanted to see.
“Every football fan knows it when he or she sees it. All players try during games, but there is something over and above the norm that we as fans are looking for.”
Elliot acknowledged the impact Matty’s positive debut has had on the team, but urged patience with the 19-year-old, as not all days will follow the same pattern.
“I would just say, don’t expect him to do that every week. He’s a young kid and we still have to look after him,” Elliot warned.
“It’s not to say he’s going to play every game until the end of the season, obviously I’m not involved in that process but we just need to make sure that we understand he’s still a young lad at 19.
“He might be playing, not playing, playing different roles and he’s going to have up and down days – the same with Sean, so we just have to be patient.”
Elliot is right, and as is often the case, comparisons and over-hype can often have a negative effect on a young player, particularly someone who is seen as a real top prospect.
Nurturing Matty Longstaff’s talent slowly will pay off
Matty will get another chance to showcase his talent at Chelsea on Saturday, that is almost certain given his previous heroics and Isaac Hayden still suspended.
But it is likely not to be as easy for him at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, and if he does not reach the levels he did against Manchester United, he must not be overly criticised.
Good performances and bad ones are all part of his learning curve, and you can be sure that Steve Bruce will learn more about him from how he bounces back after a poor performance than after a great one.
It will be a balancing act for him over the coming weeks, which is why I would still restore Hayden to the starting lineup when his suspension expires.
Having a weapon like an enthusiastic Matty Longstaff on the bench, will be a wonderful luxury for Bruce to have, and call upon when necessary.
Managing expectations of fans and Matty himself will be a test of the man-management skills Bruce is supposed to excel at.
If he is looked after properly, Matty could well be the long-term midfield partner to his brother for years to come.