Goalkeeper Rob Elliot was a revelation for Newcastle last season, when he came into the first team in October for Tim Krul, after Tim had severely damaged his anterior cruciate ligaments in his knee while playing for the Netherlands.
At the time, head coach Steve McClaren said Tim was worth about 20 points a season to Newcastle, but Rob came in and we hardly missed Tim because of the 29 year-old’s excellent form between the sticks.
Rob Elliot – Newcastle’s Player of the Season
When Steve made that rather bizarre claim, some cynical Newcastle fans worked out we could end up with negative points in the Premier League.
He was our Player of the Season and he wasn’t only good on the field, but he was also a leader in the dressing room and spoke up after some of Newcastle’s disastrous displays under Steve McClaren, when other senior players shied away from giving interviews.
Probably his best display was at Bournemouth, where it was the home side against Rob – and Rob won – when he made five world-class saves in that game that we nicked 1-0 with an opportunistic first half goal by Ayoze Perez.
Unfortunately, Rob himself picked up an ACL playing in a friendly while playing for Ireland in late March and will not return until later this year.
In came Karl Darlow and also impressed in the Newcastle goal and we have another very good goalkeeper in the former Nottingham Forest player.
Rob was impressed with the way Rafa ran the training at Newcastle once he arrived in March:
“You can tell the experience Benitez has got from the top level, and I don’t think I realized just how good he would be until I worked under him,”
“You can see the difference in the team over the final few weeks of the season, even if it didn’t end the way we wanted it to.”
“Everything was done on merit, there were no pre-determined actions and he doesn’t miss a trick.” “As players, you know that nothing is going unnoticed.”
“If you don’t put the work in and you don’t do what you’re asked, then you are going to get pulled up for it, and that can only be a good thing.”
“Hopefully he can help us push on as a club and we can have some really good times here.”
Rafa will have a full six weeks training the squad before we play our first game in the Championship on Saturday August 6th.
We hope to see a very well organized side, with the defense much stronger than it’s been for the last four seasons when we have conceded a massive 255 goals – an average of over 63 goals a season.
That’s because Rafa will use common sense and see it’s a big weakness we have and therefore he will strengthen the defense – something those running the club didn’t do over the last four years.