Rob Elliot has given an insightful perceptive interview in the local papers, which illustrates just why players will run through a brick wall for the Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez.
Not only is Rafa mad keen on everything to do with football, but he is an excellent man-manager who knows how the players think and gives them massive support, especially when they are going through tough times.
Nobody can say Rob Elliot hasn’t had a very tough year, after picking up his serious ACL knee injury playing for the Republic of Ireland a year last March.
31 year-old Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot
Rafa brought back Rob Elliot to the first team line-up for the last three games of last season – a masterstroke and games that we won and gained a massive 8 points on Brighton to dramatically win the Championship.
This is how Rob Elliot has explained Rafa’s interactions with him over the last year or so and why the Newcastle manager is so very good at what he does:
“I spoke to him in the summer and had my operations.” He’s shown faith in me and looked after me by doing that.”
“We sat down and we talked. He said ‘is everything OK with you?’.” “Obviously, my contract was coming up. All I said to him was that my contract probably needed looking at.”
“I was very unsure of my future before that, and before I started playing in the previous season.”
“He was ‘OK, I’ll speak to Lee Charnley.” “A week later he said ‘we’ll have a meeting, and your contract will get sorted’.”
“I ended up signing a new deal in the summer. “I never really had to go and see him.”
“He’d only been my manager for two games when I was fit and gave me a new contract while I was injured, was enough to me.”
“I don’t think I needed to knock on his door and ask what he thought of me or what my position was.”
“You knuckle down and wait for your opportunity and he gave me that in the Preston game.”
“The Preston game was massive,” “I didn’t expect to play. The manager told me on Sunday morning as I went out to training.”
“He casually came up to me – we usually say hello in the morning – and said ‘I’m going to play you tomorrow’.”
“It didn’t really sink in properly.” “While it’s been brilliant watching the club and the lads do so well, it’s been tough personally.”
“You work for six or seven months to get back fit after a horrible injury at the worst possible time, and then Karl was playing brilliantly.”
“You have to sit there and keep plugging away.” “It’s just great when you get your opportunity that you can help in some way. It’s just nice to contribute something.”
“The lads have put the effort in and have gone through the pain barrier. To contribute a little bit makes you part of that group.”
Rafa will also have had a quiet word with Karl Darlow about why he was bringing Rob back.
And we didn’t see Karl go in the huff or anything like that – he was just delighted he played a major role in getting Newcastle promoted last season and back in the big time – the Premier League.