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The Curious Case of Adam Armstrong

Looking back at the promising striker and what went wrong

Newcastle United v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

As you may have heard, Adam Armstrong has been linked with a £1.75M deal with Blackburn Rovers yesterday. There was some that said that isn't enough, some said good deal, and some are mad the he was even sold at all. Let’s take a look at the career Arma had at United and wonder, what happened?

Arma joined the Toon as a promising U18 player and made his 1st appearance in the 2013-14 season in the Premier League 2. It was immediately successful for him. He scored 6 goals in 11 appearances and was called up to the 1st team and made 4 appearances off the bench.

Newcastle United v Swansea City - Premier League Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

It is common for a young player to make their first few appearances and struggle, as the bright lights of the Premier League is an overwhelming experience for a player. It seemed like he was overwhelmed initially, as in each match in the prem, he came on in a losing position, 5 minutes against Fulham, 16 minutes against Stoke City, 9 minutes against Swans and 1 minute against Arsenal. Arsenal was to just get him on the pitch at Emirates as they were down 3-0, but at Fulham, home against Swans and at Stoke were his first REAL chances to take a chance. It was Underwhelming at best.

In those 4 appearances he managed 1 shot on goal, and it was from outside the box. Now I am not harping on him for that. It was only 30 minutes in a season where he was Under 18! It was however, a start of a trend that became more and more prevalent.

Next season, fans would definitely expect better.

Gateshead v Newcastle United - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

2014-15 season, Arma got plenty of opportunities. Arma capped in the Premier League, Premier League 2, EFL Cup, FA Youth Cup and the FA Cup. In all 31 appearances he had 11 goals and 7 assists. Let’s break that down.

Premier League 2 - 14 matches, 11 goals, 4 Assists

Premier League - 11 matches, 0 goals, 1 assist

EFL Cup - 3 matches 0 goals, 2 assists

FA Youth Cup - 2 matches, 0 goals, 0 assists

FA Cup - 1 match, 0 goals, 0 assists

Once again, a great showing on the Youth level, but nothing on the 1st team stage. His minutes increased significantly, going from 30 Premier League minutes last year to 202 this term. However, Once again a very young player looking to break into an experienced squad in the Premier League is quite the challenge. On the contrary, another season without real improvement.

2015-16 was the breakout season he needed. Newcastle tried to integrate him in the 1st team but it didn't work so it was time to go on loan. A HUGELY successful season on loan in League One with Coventry City led to 40 appearances with 20 goals and 5 assists. It was the season Newcastle fans wanted to see. It finally felt that Arma was a force. A goal in every 2 matches and a 20 goal season is exactly what the club and its fans were hoping for. I remember speaking to a friend during this season. I really thought this was the turning point for him. “Loan him to the Championship, he will dominate like he did at Coventry, then the following season he will be our #9”. That was my timeline. I felt the excitement around the player, it seemed real.

This is when there things went downhill. From 2016/17 to the 2017/18 seasons, Arma appeared in 46 matches in the Championship with Barnsley and Bolton. 56 matches, 7 goals, 6 assists. That is almost 2 full Championship seasons with a goal every 438 minutes or every 4.8 games. This is concerning, especially for a smaller #9. Someone who cannot score, partially due to the physicality of a division. The spell at Bolton was the hardest, 20 matches, 1 goal. 6 of his 7 goals were with Barnsley in 2016-17 which is still not the greatest considering he played in 36 matches with only 6 goals. The 7th goal was last season at Bolton. It started to become apparent, that he wont be able to rise to the level of the Prem.

Now granted he was still young, but he was not showing the improvement you want to see year over year. After an unsuccessful Loan spell in the first half of the season with Bolton, he was sent on loan to Blackburn in League One, where he collected 9 goals in 21 apps. A very successful League One spell, but yet again, we knew he was League One quality already.

So far, across all 1st team comps in the Championship and Premier League, Arma averages 1.5 shots/match, 74% passing/match, .4 aerials won/match, and an average match rating of 6.33. Also 7 total goals, all in the Championship combined with 71 total apps in both comps. Not good enough/.

I guess what I am saying, is that he just didn't progress. Yeah he can be effective, yeah he still could progress, and yeah we all wished he would make it. But he hasn't. Simple. So for the fee, I think its a great deal. For a player who has only succeeded in League One and Premier League 2, its good business.

I wish Arma nothing but the best at Blackburn, I’m sure most of us do, but to get up to £3M for a player who has only proven high League One quality is a deal we can afford to take. Rovers fans are happy, and we have extra money. Now to only hope we can reinvest that money into the youth team/facilities and find a quality Premier League striker in the parks of the North East.