As Newcastle fans we usually have polarising views on players, but none more than local lads who come through the ranks. In Sean and Matty Longstaff, we have two young lads who burst on the scene, and rightly or wrongly, we expected big things. Particularly when it comes to Sean. The young Shields lad was brought in by the great Rafa Benitez due to injuries ravaging his wafer thin squad (what’s changed eh?) and Sean didn’t just do a job, he was fantastic.

Injury cut that initial run short, and whilst he was recovering, the manager who gave him his chance, and coached him from minute 1-90 left this basket case club, and was replaced by Steve Bruce. Despite being a fellow Geordie, Steve hasn’t been able to get the best out of Sean, in fact, like a few others, he’s actually managed to regress him as a player, and the less said about his treatment of younger brother Matty the better. Rumours of Bruce segregating the lads, much to the surprise, and frustration of senior players behind the scenes have been heard by us all. The longer Bruce remains (hopefully not long) the less chance either of the Longstaffs stay in my eyes.

Matty may have been sent out on loan, but Sean looks to have played his way back into the side, and despite our general play being a bit shite of late, Sean has looked like he’s slowly getting back to the kind of form we saw under Rafa. Yesterday saw Sean play one of his best games for the club in some time. Once again lining up alongside the bright and energetic Joe Willock in centre midfield, the 23 year old Geordie scored a belter of a goal, and should’ve really had another one, if not two to his name.

He got on the ball so much, and at the end of the first half had a 100% pass completion rate. When I see performances like this from Sean, it really makes me believe that he’s the man to replace the perennial sloth that is Jonjo Shelvey in our set up, but sadly for Sean, we haven’t seen enough of it over the course of his 60 appearances for the Toon so far. Rafa seemed to be planning that prior to his departure, but since Bruce’s arrival, we’ve sadly seemed to build a side around Jonjo, which for the short, and long term future of the club is not a good plan, but then again, this is classic Steve Bruce.

Most normal clubs would have Sean locked in to a new long term contract by now, but we’re not normal are we? Sean’s situation currently is that he has 6 months left on his contract, and with so much uncertainty at the club, why would he sign an extension? Unless his heart overrules his head, it’s truly a damning example of how disorganized this shambolic club is, that you can’t even tie down homegrown players, and Newcastle fans themselves to commit their long term future to their club.

At the height of Sean’s debut run, strong rumours of a £50m move to Manchester United got louder & louder, but never materialised, and from what I heard, it was indeed Rafa Benitez who stopped it from happening, as he probably knew it was both too soon for the young player, and that he’d not get that money to reinvest from our shithouse owner.

There were some summer rumours that both Southampton, and Everton, who are currently managed by Rafa Benitez, were both interested in bringing Sean in for around £10-£15m. After seeing what he’s capable of yesterday, that’s a snip for a lad who’s still on the right side of his 20’s. There’s no doubt that Sean will be talking to his agent about where he goes from here, and I think the managerial situation at the club will be a huge influence on what that decision is.

Speaking of his current manager, he did his usual swerve & dodge when asked about Sean’s contact situation, following his man of the match performance at Vicarage Road. The Baron of Bacon was quoted as saying;

There’s nothing I can do with anybody that gets linked,” 

“Sean’s playing very well at the moment. I have been very, very pleased with him” 

“So as far as I’m aware, the contract details … that’s for other people to sort out, not me.” 

What a great way to convince the lad he matters to your side Steve, maybe instead of passing the buck to others, why not try and say you want him as part of the squad for years to come? Unless he knows he won’t be here, and that the others he references is Eddie Howe? Wishful thinking I know. It’s great to see Sean putting in performances like this, and coupled with how well he speaks to the media, I could see him as a future Newcastle captain, but as a player, I’m not sure he’ll want to spend the key development years of his career at the current guise of his hometown football club.

His partnership with Willock could really develop into a great pairing, with Hayden holding in behind them, that’s the three most of us would play, but with the looming spectre of Jonjo Shelvey returning, and if this utterly incompetent manager is still making the calls in the St James Park hot-seat, then Sean will probably find himself back on the bench, killing that energetic pairing, and making Sean’s mind up to leave his hometown club. I really hope this isn’t the case, but if Sean keeps putting in these performances, he won’t be short of potential suitors.

Chris Currie – @wig82