When Rafa Benitez went about his business last summer to build a side that could get promoted first time from the Championship last season he looked for character in the players he brought in and he was very successful in that.
Rafa not only brought in players who had a lot of Championship experience like Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle, Isaac Hayden, Daryl Murphy and Grant Hanley they also had strong characters and a good worth ethic in training and during games.
That paid huge dividends for Newcastle who finished up with the best away record in the Championship with 46 points from our 23 away games – and Newcastle broke a club record with 14 away wins in one season.
Jack Colback in action for Newcastle against Preston
Rafa also equalled a club record when we won 9 games in a row in all competitions last year.
Jack Colback had one or two injuries during last season, but he still managed a good 34 appearances with 28 starts for the team.
Newcastle United’s dressing room now has the character and fight that has been missing far too long over the past few years.
This is what Jack has said in the Chronicle today about the new character in the dressing room that was of course completely missing last season under former manager Steve McClaren:
“That’s a lot to do with the character of the team. I think that was lacking when I first came.”
“We were lacking that fight, that drive at times when the going gets tough.”
“The expectations have been bigger this year. We’ve been expected to win the league, and rightly so, really, because we’re a big club.”
“But we’ve had to cope with that. We’ve always reacted. We started off slow. That was maybe a wake-up call for us. We’ve been consistent throughout.”
“We’ve lost probably more games than we’d hoped, but we’ve finished top of the league so no-one can say anything about that.”
“Obviously, we can’t downplay the achievement.”
“If you compare Villa and Norwich, who have got very strong squads. They haven’t even got in play-offs.”
“It shows the strength of the league. It’s a tough league. Even against the lower teams, it’s always a battle.”
“I think, especially for us, we’re a big scalp. Teams lift their game against us, and we’ve had to match that.”
“Over the course of the season I think we’ve been very consistent. We’ve had the odd setback, but we’ve always reacted, and I think that’s been the key.”
“It was the best way it could’ve went. We heard the cheers in the first half against Barnsley, and thought it was 1-0 to Villa.”
“We found out at half time that it was disallowed.” “We just had to do our job. We did that. It was always going to be a case of it being a bonus if we won the league.”
“For it to end like that in the last minute was fantastic.”
Some good points made there by the local lad who still seems to have a future at his home town club?
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