Grant Hanley has had a tough time of it since he signed on for us from Blackburn Rovers last summer, but we still think lad can have a bright future at Newcastle under the expert coaching of Rafa Benitez.
What has impressed us with Grant is his maturity, leadership and professional attitude when he hasn’t played as much football this term as he would have liked at Newcastle.
But he started the game yesterday in place of captain Jamaal Lascelles and put in an assured display alongside Ciaran Clark.
Grant Hanley in action yesterday
And after we played really well in those first 70 minutes, Newcastle came under pressure in the late stages, much like we did against QPR on Wednesday night.
But we held on well this time for the win, but we should have put the game to bed with the chances we had – especially in the first half.
But a win is a win and we needed it yesterday after dropping those 2 points on Wednesday night.
And Newcastle are top of the Championship so we are not complaining – in fact we are simply delighted the lads got back to our winning ways and with a good performance too.
Hanley has spoken on the Newcastle web-site after the game:
“Results like that always feel a bit better when you’ve had to grind it out,”
“We knew it was going to be a tough game – they are a top side, and they have been a top side in the Championship as long as I can remember.”
“They were piling the pressure on at the end, playing it a bit longer – which is perhaps not their style of play.”
“The manager brought big Jamaal Lascelles on, so we had three big centre-halves on who love to head it.”
“We had to show a bit of spirit and character.” “The atmosphere was not great after the result the other night, so it’s great to bounce back like that.”
“The fans here are brilliant – they turn up in their numbers every week – so after a game like Wednesday’s it is important to put it right.”
“It’s nice to get the win and be back on the track we want to be on.”
“Perhaps on the back of Wednesday night, the manager wanted us to make sure we were fully concentrated and organised, so we maybe had a wee edge to make sure we were right on it,”
“In the first half, we were picking up all of the second balls and we were really on top of the game.”
“For me, it’s nice to get some game-time. Playing alongside Ciaran, he is experienced, intelligent and always looking to organise, which is very important as a centre-back.”
“There are some really top players at this club, so whoever you’re playing with you know you’re playing with a really good player, so it’s really enjoyable.”
Good words there from Hanley and that was the first time he has started a Championship game since the first game of the season at Fulham.
We think Grant now has a good chance of starting the game next Saturday at Wolves in the late kick-off game.
We need another win then and we will have Christian Atsu back from the African Cup of Nations and maybe even Dwight Gayle. although Rafa will not take any chances with our top striker as he recovers from a long-standing hamstring problem.
Hopefully Jack Colback will also be fit, especially since Isaac Hayden went off injured at the start of the second half yesterday.
An excellent result and good performance yesterday from the lads – they did very well indeed.