During the last year of Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle contract, we constantly heard the Spaniard saying how important it was for the club to upgrade the facilities, and the academy in particular.
He was always stressing the importance of having facilities in place to attract and nurture upcoming talent.
Newcastle, for one reason or another, were reluctant to do so, and despite overhauling the behind the scenes set-up, they did not make the infrastructure changes that may have convinced Benitez to stay on Tyneside.
Lee Charnley spoke of the club’s preference to sign players than upgrade facilities, but it could prove to be a shortsighted approach.
Former midfielder Mikel Merino has also spoken in less than glowing terms during a question and answer session with Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo.
Merino’s comments suggests Newcastle Academy set-up falling behind
Speaking about the quality and readiness of academy graduates at Real Sociedad, Merino said: “I was impressed by how prepared the kids in the quarry [Real Sociedad Youth Academy] are.
“Neither in Dortmund nor in Newcastle did I have the feeling that the home players were so prepared. Here they come and they already measure up.”
It reinforces Benitez’s opinion of the current set-up, and why – even with the Spaniard having departed – his warning regarding the Newcastle academy should be heeded.
Investing in the whole set-up and infrastructure from top to bottom now, could end up saving the club a fortune in the long-term – and we all know how much Mike Ashley likes to save money!