Not a hopeless case: Club heroes say optimism is high at Newcastle and Aston Villa despite relegation from Premier League
Both clubs are facing uncertainty over their managers, but Gordon Cowans and Peter Beardsley are hopeful for their clubs next season
Aston Villa and Newcastle United have cause for optimism as the season draws to a close, according to two former stars of the relegated teams.
Speaking on the sidelines of the HKFC Soccer Sevens, which wrapped up on Sunday night, Aston Villa assistant manager Gordon Cowans and Newcastle under-21 manager Peter Beardsley said they were confident next season would see improvement in their clubs’ fortunes.
Cowans, who won the European Cup with Villa, said the club’s young players, who won a record sixth Soccer Sevens title on Sunday, were a reason for hope.
“Everybody’s obviously down. We’ve been through a horrible period over the last five years,” he said. “This has been coming on for years and it should have been addressed better, but it hasn’t and that’s the case.
“The good thing is some of these kids might get a chance. Over the last few seasons one or two have been thrown in but we just tended to keep going out and getting other players – mainly foreigners and people who the club means nothing to them. These lads have hunger for the club and a bit of fight and desire to get to where they want to be.”
Cowans believes that relegation to the Championship for managerless Villa next season would see some of the club’s youngsters being given opportunities.
“I think it will give an opportunity for some of the younger players because [the Championship] is a physical place to be playing but if you can get some of them in and get the experience of playing at that level, then they’ll develop quicker. We’ll just have to wait and see who the new manager’s going to be.”
The Birmingham club arein the process of being taken over by Chinese businessman Xia Jiantong.
“It’s something that needed to be happening. We need new owners,” Cowans added. “The club needed selling. I mean, Randy [Lerner] started with the club a long while back, spent an absolute fortune on players and put us in a good position, but over the years things have just deteriorated, so we hope these new owners really do back the club.”
Meanwhile, Beardsley, a Newcastle fan favourite, says optimism is high at St James’ Park following their strong finish to the season.
“People from Newcastle are optimistic,” said the former England captain. “Of course, we’re disappointed – you’d be stupid not to be, but we’re in a position where if we get the right man in it can make a difference, and obviously that’s what we want to try and do.”
Former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez is set to decide if he will extend his stay on Tyneside into a second season.
“The man’s a superstar. He’s ‘got it’ as we say. Obviously, I’m being selfish – he might have other offers. But absolutely I want him to stay,” added Beardsley.