Steve Bruce should repeat his genius Matty Longstaff move of throwing a Newcastle United product in at the deep end with Elliot Anderson against Manchester United on Sunday.
The Toon boss gifted Longstaff his Premier League debut at home to the Red Devils last season and saw the decision come good with the 20-year-old scoring the winning goal.
Longstaff stayed in the side for a trip to Chelsea and clash with Wolves before returning to the periphery, only to bounce back at Old Trafford two months later by netting his side’s sole effort in a 4-1 defeat.
It was a brave decision by Bruce to hand a then 19-year-old Longstaff his top-flight debut after a run of one win in seven, but a move that would see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side left stunned when the Rotherham-born midfield let rip from 25-yards out.
After the game, Bruce could only salute his efforts after seeing Longstaff add a refreshing twist to his tactics after going back to basics on the back of a 5-0 drubbing at Leicester City.
“He trains every day with a big, beaming smile on his face, he’s refreshing, wants to play, he’s a great kid and I’m delighted,” the Magpies boss said, via quotes by BT. “Typical of him, the first thing he said to me coming off was ‘Thank you’. It’s ridiculous after what he’s just done.”
Now, it is time for Bruce to place the same trust in Anderson that he placed in Longstaff, with the 18-year-old seemingly chomping at the bit for his big break at Newcastle.
The Toon boss handed Anderson his senior debut as a late substitute in January’s FA Cup defeat to Arsenal before the tie headed for extra-time and was not let down by the youngster who emerged as United’s only true positive at the Emirates Stadium.
He appeared again for a brief three-minute run out in north London nine days later when Newcastle returned to Arsenal for a league game but has since seemed to fall out of favour after being left out of Bruce’s matchday squad for Monday’s 2-0 loss to Chelsea.
Anderson had taken a seat on the bench in United’s previous seven Premier League games before the Magpies’ trip to Stamford Bridge and has scored six goals in eight matches with the Under 23s this season.
The teenager reacted to his omission from the squad to face Chelsea by posting an Instagram story sharing a quote from Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, suggesting age should never be what prevents a player’s involvement.
“I never liked talking about age. If you’re good you play, if you’re not good you don’t play. If you’re good, you take the responsibility. If you’re not good, you shut up and watch the others. Don’t talk to me about age, talk to me about levels,” the post read, as noted by Chronicle Live (16/2, 16:06).
Whilst the young midfielder has received plenty of glowing endorsements, his former youth coach John Forrest told The Athletic: “He knew how to dominate a game, which is a natural skill that’s hard to coach. He really was an outstanding footballer. He stood out, even then.”
In the very same article, several of Anderson’s former Newcastle academy team-mates have told The Athletic that, not only was he the “most talented player” in their side, he was also “supremely driven” and will not lose focus.
Bruce should now repeat his move of dropping Longstaff in unexpectedly with Anderson, and see if the youngster can repeat the levels of his performance against Arsenal after seemingly hitting out at his lack of game time, as he could be Newcastle’s new secret weapon.