ALAN Smith has revealed he may return to Newcastle United next season – as an Academy coach.
Smith is currently on loan at Milton Keynes but is facing a “big decision” on his future in the summer, having come to the end of a long-term deal at St James’ Park.
A career in coaching is a consideration and he had been offered a role in United’s Academy before departing for the League One club.
It is something he may yet take up, utilising his good relationship with Alan Pardew – a manager he still speaks very highly of – to take a first step towards management.
“Before I went to MK I spoke to the manager about staying and working at the Academy,” Smith told The Journal in a wide-ranging interview.
“I’d love to keep playing, but it’s whether your body can keep doing it and for how long your body can keep doing it.
“I’ve not spoken to him (the manager) about that since, I just want to concentrate on my football, but we spoke about working with the Academy with Willie Donachie. I did some work while I was still there, doing talks at the Academy and telling the lads what it takes – how to keep your focus and not get carried away, that sort of thing. If I had stayed (rather than going out on loan), that was a route I’d have gone down.
“I want to concentrate on playing for the minute but, yeah, I’d love to come back and coach. I’d never rule out anything, it’s a great football club and a great place to be.
“You know that the people in the North East have got football at heart, that’s somewhere you want to be.” Smith was allowed to leave on loan to MK Dons in a move that he has enjoyed.
Attracted to the project of bringing success to a town where football is relatively new, he admits it has given him a fresh “perspective” on the game and made him appreciate how lucky he has been to play for three of the biggest clubs in the country.
But he remains close to events at St James’ Park and is absolutely delighted that the “excellent” coaching team at Newcastle have inspired such a brilliant season.
“I’d like to thank the manager and the club itself for letting me go and play football, which is what I wanted to do,” he
said. “I’d given it six months – I didn’t just want to walk away. I wanted to give myself a chance.
“I never fell out with anyone at Newcastle. I’d spoken to the manager and I still do have a good relationship with him. I still speak to him quite often.
“What they have done is outstanding, to be honest.
“They’ve surprised everyone, not just with their league position, but their performances.
“They have played the best football in the Premier League over the last few weeks, in my opinion. You want them to do well. Most people who are associated with the club will tell you, it’s such a good club and a big club but in some ways it’s got that feel of a small club.
“There’s so many good people involved in that club who have been there their whole life – staff, kitchen staff, people who work at the ground. Although players come and go, they’re always there.
“They’re the ones you want to do well for, they’re the ones you want to have a successful team for.
“Then there’s the fans. They stuck with us in the Championship, they stuck with us after relegation and they’re getting their rewards for it now. From an outside perspective, I hope they get into the Champions League. They deserve it.”
Smith, who is heading to the play-offs with MK Dons, is out of contract at Newcastle in the summer and admits all options are open to him.
“Now I’ve got a big summer to decide what I want to do and where I see my future lying,” he said.
“We’ve got the play-offs to come, it’d be nice to finish at Wembley and get MK Dons promoted.
“And I’d love to see Newcastle in the Champions League.
“I’ve spoken about doing my coaching badges – who knows what is next?”