Ian Holloway was asked to pick three personal highlights of the Championship so far.
The trio of stories he picked out were Huddersfield ending up top of the table, Chelsea loan player Tammy Abraham doing great things at Bristol City and…Rafa Benitez for putting ‘the united back in Newcastle United’.
Ian Holloway admits he was awe of Rafa when meeting him earlier this year, saying ‘I was very, very impressed…he’s so humble and has taken on the (Newcastle) job because of the supporters not for the money’.
However, the Sky Sports pundit says that it is too easy to blame all of Newcastle’s problems on Steve McClaren, instead he say the blame for relegation lies ‘solely with the players’.
Ian Holloway’s Championship success stories so far this season:
1) Huddersfield and David Wagner are a special combination
2) Tammy Abraham has the world at his feet
3) Rafa has put the united back in Newcastle United
Ian Holloway speaking to Sky Sports:
“Newcastle and Rafa Benitez have achieved a very difficult thing this season: removing the disappointment and losing mentality from the club.
“What a man Rafa Benitez is. I was very, very impressed with him when I met him.
“Despite his background at some of the world’s biggest clubs, he’s so humble and has taken on the job because of the supporters not for the money. How refreshing is that.
“That philosophy is definitely coming through on his players. They look like a team that are enjoying the challenge the Championship brings.
“The rest of the division needs to watch out as this team could go on a huge winning run at any stage of the season.
“If Benitez didn’t decide to stay then a blame culture would have started to develop within the fan base, but all the blame from them is seemingly pointed at Steve McClaren rather than Benitez, which is helping the atmosphere.
“That is an easy cop out though, to blame the previous manager.
“In my opinion the blame lies solely with the players that took the club down – some of them failed to show up last season.
“The bad habits of last season are behind them now. A swift return to the Premier League looks on the cards.”