Back in Summer 2016 we saw a relentless pursuit of Grant Hanley by Rafa Benitez.

The Newcastle boss had said he wanted to bring in players who specifically would be ideal to get the club out of the Championship, ideally with experience of the second tier.

The likes of Ritchie and Gayle fitted the bill and were brought in.

Then Rafa turned his attention to the back and Grant Hanley.

Still only 24, the centre-back was a regular for Scotland and had played in the Premier League with Blackburn before four years in the Championship with them, as Captain as well, he looked to have the necessary ability and leadership qualities that were ideal for the Newcastle boss.

Back in Summer 2016, Benitez pursued the player over the course of weeks, putting in offer after offer until Blackburn accepted a sizeable £6m and both Rafa and Grant Hanley got his way.

Then Blackburn Manager, Owen Coyle, said that he was desperate not to lose Hanley but that ‘Newcastle were very persistent and kept coming back with offer after offer.’

Then Blackburn Manager Owen Coyle back in July 2016:

“It’s like anything else, we all know that Grant Hanley is a very good player and I said that we certainly didn’t want to lose any of those players.

“Newcastle were very persistent and kept coming back with offer after offer, and Grant Hanley told us that he wanted to go, that he wanted that move to Newcastle.

“As a manager, you want players who want to be at your club.

“So that’s the point it got to. It came to the offer they made and it was accepted by the owners and that’s where we are.”

Rafa Benitez already had Lascelles and Mbemba who had finished the season well in the Premier League and then it got even more bizarre when the Newcastle boss also brought in Ciaran Clark a few days before the season started.

A bit like the arrival of Matz Sels there was some bemusement as to why Rafa was bringing in players for areas where the team/squad looked ok.

With Clark just arrived and Mbemba not fully fit, Hanley and Lascelles kicked off the Championship season, Newcastle losing 1-0 at Fulham.

Then only a matter of a couple weeks after getting Grant Hanley after a long pursuit, Rafa immediately dropped Hanley and didn’t give him another start for six months, even that was due to injuries.

In total, Grant Hanley started five Championship games for Newcastle but exactly why Rafa Benitez made such a snap judgement of not rating him after only a couple of weeks is a strange one.

Norwich fans have been raving about Hanley’s form this season and now he is back in the Scotland squad.

The defender claiming he has no Newcastle ‘regrets’.

Grant Hanley talking to the Scotsman:

“I have no regrets about joining Newcastle when I look back on it now.

“You make your decisions and you live by them.

“It never worked out for me and I didn’t play as much as I would have liked to.

“These things happen in football and it’s just important that you learn from those kind of experiences.

“Then you move on and make yourself better for it.

“Personally, I feel good at the moment because I’m back playing regularly again at club level.

“If you are playing for your club, you are obviously going to have a better chance of playing at international level.

“I was left out of the last [Scotland] squad, which I was gutted about.

“But I could totally understand why. Now I’m just glad to be back and it’s up to me to train well and show the manager what I can do.

“There are a lot of new faces. The squad is different with a new manager. It’s the start of the build-up to a new campaign and we have to take it that way.

“The boys are just excited to get started now.

“It’s another chance for us, it’s a new campaign.”

  • NUFCDan

    I got the impression at the time that Clarke was bought to be backup left back and fourth choice centre back, but he did so well when given a run that Hanley never got a look in again really. Fair play to Clarke as he was the signing I was most underwhelmed about at the time.

  • Anita kick up the Hoop

    An awful footballer .. I was amazed at the fact that Rafa made a bid for him in the first place .. then increased it .. and then increased it again … at a time where money was supposedly tight it made no sense … and is even more baffling after the fact.

    • Ram Kishore

      Anyone could have suggested him to be a really good player. Could be his contacts, could be Carr and his scouting set up. Scouts saw a good player in him and other players like Clarke and Lascelles got themselves the winning pair between them.
      Winning the matches were a priority last season and we also had a streak of consecutive wins remember?.
      So the manager simply didn’t want to change the backline

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        I think Carr was sidelined as soon as Rafa agreed to stay on. It was a classic acquisition for Rafa to get an experienced championship defender with potential. We can’t blame Carr for this one.

        • Dillon Tovak

          Who needs to blame anyone for anything? He was rarely used cover, we won the league and he moves on to regular football. All worked out in my opinion.

          • Damon Horner

            too much emphasis on blame really, odd disproportionate when warranted too. I’m with you, he was another number and carried experience and ability but the defenders in the team did a great job.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            True and i agree, there does not need to be a blame culture. I thought Ram was implying Carr may have chosen Hanley rather than Rafa. I think in this case, that is unlikely.

        • Ram Kishore

          Yeah we can’t blame him.. it’s just something that didn’t work for player

    • Wor Monga

      …at a time when money was supposedly tight…£6m…when we’d just sold Sissoko £30m, Gini £20+m, Janmaat £12m and Townsend £13m…for probably something over £70m and taken over £6m from the wage bill…WTF are you Ashley’s financial consultant?!!!

      • Kneebotherm8


  • Danimal

    Competition for places. Still a radical idea at this club. Overall that was a successful transfer window. Not often we can say that.

    • molend

      I might want to take issue on ‘successful’. Let me give you an example. When I was a bairn there was a sign in the Gents at the Central Station that said: ‘Before leaving the convenience, gentlemen please adjust your dress’. We all knew what it meant back then, but in these post-modern times? By the same token, success used to mean the opposite of failure. But I think you need to take a more nuanced approach. In the last window, did we sign any plonkers? Did we spend any money? Is our glorious leader still at the helm, despite the pressures of his other business interests? Viewed correectly, these are positives. Think of all the money we’ll have for the next transfer window. Well, mebbe not the next one…

      • Dillon Tovak

        We made signings and won the league, I think that makes it successful.
        Things may have transpired where we needed to play Hanley or Lazaar more, but they didn’t, we’re back in the prem so jobs’a’goodun.

        • molend

          I had hoped it would be obvious that I was being sarcastic about the last window

          • Dillon Tovak

            Sorry, to be honest I read the first line and started spouting off 😂

          • molend

            Nee bother, kidder.

          • Danimal

            Thanks for the toilet anecdote, wasn’t expecting that! Pleased to hear you were being sarcastic about the last window. Cheers.

  • Wor Monga

    Nothing baffling about the Hanley deal…

    …indeed whatever happened in that transfer window was done with the single aim of getting the club promoted over a very lengthy and hard season that mostly consisted of having to play 2 games in a week…obviously some players had to be brought in very quickly after Rafa was compelled to sell Sissoko, Janmaat , Wijnaldum and Townsend, and Grant Hanley was one player who was used to standing up against the Championship route 1 method of pumping high balls into the box for big target men to get on the end of (whereas Mbemba certainly was not)…

    …All the players who came into the squad at that time played a part just by making themselves available to play if needed…the cost was totally negligible because not only were we promoted straight back up as champions (a fact that some of the muppets on here tend to forget), but by doing so the club immediately gained over £100m…

    …without Rafa doing everything that was necessary, at that time we could have easily gone the way the mackems are going now!!!

    • Kneebotherm8

      Exactly right

    • TheNutJob

      correction, Fatty gained a £100m

      • Wor Monga

        Maybe you’d rather they’d just stayed down then?!!!

  • Damon Horner

    Four Centre Backs, One could play RB and another could play LB. Strength in depth at Championship level was the aim. Hanley’s just unlucky that Clark and Lascelles both had a very good season (despite criticism of Lascelles) both individually and with the defence as a unit as well as maintaining a good level of availability.

  • ghostrider

    Grant Hanley done ok for us when he was played.
    Some players have to be unlucky and he was one.
    Good enough for top end of the championship but would struggle in the premier league, I think.
    Nothing against the lad though. Like he said: it simply didn’t work out.

    • TheNutJob

      10 games in all, £5m fee plus wages of £1.5m, sold for £3m.
      350 grand a game, what a bargain,
      sergio ramos would have played for that

      • ghostrider

        That’s not Hanley’s fault. Like I said, he done ok for us “when he was played”…he just wasn’t played enough due to Lascelles and clark doing very well.
        He certainly wasn’t a bargain but the reality is, he wasn’t a flop because he didn’t play enough games to be considered a flop, when the games he actually played in he done ok in.

      • Wor Monga

        Sergio Ramos wouldn’t have joined a club that had been relegated into the second level of English football though, would he?…and he wouldn’t be alone there seeing as neither would any other decent PL central defender!!!

  • TheNutJob

    waste of money, in fact the Toon must have wasted close on £80m on duff players over the years, add their salary and £100m gone, just like that