Leeds fan and former striker, Noel Whelan has questioned the character of the Newcastle United squad.
Going on to play for Coventry and Middlesbrough, Whelan is now a player turned pundit and covers Leeds United on both radio and in print.
Whilst he says that all Leeds fans will look forward to playing Newcastle, he doesn’t think that they have the kind of character that this past season’s champions Burnley had.
Retaining most of the team/squad and manager that they had when relegated in 2014/15, Burnley went up as Champions at the first attempt.
Newcastle fans don’t need anybody else to remind them of these doubts, with Moussa Sissoko and Fabricio Coloccini already stating that they want to leave, whilst in numerous interviews Gini Wijnaldum has consistently refused to answer whether he is willing to stay in the Championship.
The last favourites to win the Championship were Manchester City under Kevin Keegan all the way back in 2001/02, so Newcastle’s position as hot favourites (2/1 to win the Championship and odds on to be promoted) only counts for something if the players back it up.
Noel Whelan says that we will soon find out just who is trying to get out of St James Park but with Rafa Benitez stating he doesn’t need to sell anybody and is determined to only let players go if it works out best for Newcastle, supporters are left facing an ‘interesting’ time in the coming weeks.
Noel Whelan speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post:
‘We’ve got Villa away on New Year’s Eve – what a great game to have.
The fans can enjoy it and it’s one of those delicious games that you look forward to, along with those against another of the relegated clubs, Newcastle United.
These are the games that you have got to go out there and get something out of it.
With Burnley we knew they were going to be thereabouts but I think they had a little bit more character in their dressing room then Newcastle.
A lot of players there have come in to Newcastle believing they were going to be in the Premier league.
We will see if they have got the right attitude and appetite to play in the Championship because it’s a completely different kettle of fish.
We will soon see if they are trying to get out of the club and get another somewhere in the top flight or if they want to dig in and earn their money and get the club back to where it was.
You have got to look at the teams that have come down as favourites because they have still got the parachute payment so they can keep the players that they bought for the Premier League.
It gives them an advantage but, saying that, there’s no given right to getting promotion because you have come down. There will be a lot of teams with good squads who just didn’t quite make it last season going for it again.’