Rob Elliot has given some enlightening comments about the past and present at Newcastle United.
The currently injured keeper says that the club is more positive and team spirit higher than when United were finishing fifth in 2012.
This says a lot about both Rafa Benitez and just how rotten the club was under the last few managers.
Finishing fifth was a relative achievement but many fans did feel that it was a season when so many things went in the team’s favour, so many games decided by the odd goal and most times it being a brilliant strike from Ba, Cabaye, Cisse or Ben Arfa, who all played out of their skins that season.
The real rotten state of the club was then exposed with Pardew a puppet who had no say, no investment in the squad to build on that breakthrough season, then a relegation struggle every season (with the exception of 2013/14) until eventual relegation was achieved in May.
Rob Elliot says ‘you have to give a lot of credit to the owner and the managing director’ for persuading Rafa Benitez to stay…but if that’s the case, then you would also have to blame Mike Ashley and/or Lee Charnley for the shocking decisions to get rid of Keegan/Hughton and employ Pardew, Kinnear, Carver and McClaren.
Whilst we can all feel upbeat after Newcastle at last employed a decent manager again, maybe a case of keeping feet on the ground at the minute, which is certainly Rafa’s message.
Newcastle are doing ok but Huddersfield and Norwich are still ahead of us and the Rotherham & Norwich matches could both have gone either way before the break.
After the £50m+ investment on players in the summer on top of those that were already here, you have to hope/expect that as the season goes on, Newcastle United start to exert their superiority over the other promotion contenders.
Rob Elliot says that ‘The structure of a football club never changes but a manager can go about things differently’, well I would say many would argue that Rafa Benitez has changed the ‘structure’ of Newcastle United. The new boss having insisted on a move away from the ridiculous policy of the manager having no say on transfers, and only looking to buy young foreign players who will hopefully increase in value.
Rob Elliot speaking to The Chronicle:
“The team spirit is the highest it has been since I signed for the club.
“The club is in a better shape now and the supporters are right behind the players and the manager. It’s all running smoothly now.
“The club is more positive than when we were fifth and going into the Europa League which is strange. I have never experienced it.
“We all know what is happening now and what the achievement needs to be.
“Hopefully, when we look back, being relegated may be a blessing in disguise, as long as we get promoted and do what needs to be done of course.
“Keeping the manager was massive and you have to give a lot of credit to the owner and the managing director. They managed to persuade a Champions League manager to stay in a lower league.
“The manager showed his desire to stay as well. His quality speaks for itself and it gave us great stability and the hopes for the future look really bright for everybody on every side: fans, players and anybody connected with the club.”
“He is very different to a lot of managers I have worked with before.
“The structure of a football club never changes but a manager can go about things differently, it’s the first time I have worked with a foreign coach for so long.
“He does things differently and the players buy into it. They see it works and he has a proven track record.”