By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
There's a new face at Newcastle United's Little Benton Academy: former England international Dave Watson, who has been appointed the club's new Under-18s Coach.
Academy Manager Joe Joyce has led the team to the top of their league table, but has been looking for a man to replace Frankie Bunn since he took up the post of assistant manager at Rochdale in the summer.
And Watson - who was previously Youth Team Coach at Wigan - has an impressive CV. As a player, he won the league cup with Norwich before enjoying a long and distinguished career with Everton, and won 12 caps for his country.
The Liverpool-born 49-year-old, who captained the Toffees for many years, had a spell as caretaker manager at Goodison Park in 1997 before taking over as manager of Tranmere Rovers in 2001.
Steve Bruce brought him to Wigan in April 2008 where he worked with their Academy side as well as assisting Reserve team manager Graham Barrow. And, just before taking training for the first time in his new role, Watson spoke exclusively to nufc.co.uk.
Dave, you've joined the club from Wigan Athletic after more than three years there. What persuaded you to make the move to Newcastle?
Obviously it's a fantastic football club and I wanted to be associated with that.
I had a great time at Wigan but I just felt the time was right to move onto the opportunity that opened up at Newcastle.
Newcastle's under-18s are currently top of the Premier Academy League Group D, so you would appear to be taking over a good crop of players...
Yeah, it seems that way. They've done absolutely fantastic up until now and let's just hope we can maintain that and progress one or two players to get through to the Reserves and then eventually into the first-team squad.
I've seen the team a couple of times in action and I've been very impressed with them. They've got a good group of players and it's just about getting those individuals to come through and kick on into the Reserves - and then to play in the first-team.
And that's when the job we're trying to do has become successful.
You bring with you plenty of experience as a player and, perhaps most importantly, as a manager and coach. How do you hope that will benefit the young players in the Academy here?
I've done quite a bit - I've had experience in the coaching and the management, as you say, but also of working with the kids which is the big thing that I've came here for.
After being at Everton for 14 years, I was a temporary manager there - Joe Royle had just been sacked as manager and I took over for seven weeks. After I left, Everton, I went to Tranmere and managed them for about 14 months and from there I was doing scouting work for Steve Bruce at Birmingham and then eventually at Wigan.
So that's my little route that I've taken since I came out of playing football and I want to pass on that to the players. That's what you always want to do.
I think I've probably came across every situation you could possibly have in football, through the playing experience and also in coaching, so hopefully that can help the kids here.
And you already know a fair few of the coaches at the club, particularly at development level, don't you?
I was at Everton with Peter (Beardsley, Football Development Manager) and Willie (Donachie, Reserve Team Manager), and with Kevin Richardson (Under-16s Coach).
And I've came across Joe Joyce before as well, so there's a lot of staff that I know up here and that'll help me to settle in that little bit quicker.
Your role is Under-18s Coach, working alongside Joe Joyce, so will it be a case of you 'getting your hands dirty' on the training ground and on a matchday?
Yeah, that's the main thing. I'm here to pass my experiences and advice onto the players and hopefully progress them to the next level.
My first game is Derby at home on Saturday and it's going to be great - I'm really looking forward to it.
And as I say, the kids have been going well so far - so let's hope they can carry on going that way.