Rob Elliot says Newcastle United are ready to move their season forward after clear-the-air talks – but insists there were no fall-outs or heated arguments.
The Magpies put a tough couple of weeks behind them with a surprise 2-0 win over Liverpool last weekend,
Newcastle had lost their previous two games against Leicester and Crystal Palace, putting in terrible performances in both games, which resulted in reports of strong discussions between the coaching staff and players on the training ground.
Goalkeeper Elliot admits boss Steve McClaren told them a few ‘home truths’ and now hopes the relegation-threatened Tynesiders can kick-start their season.
“It was obviously almost the only and perfect response to the last couple of games where we got away from who we are,” he said.
“I think they’re the sort of performances (like against Liverpool) that we put in the previous games before that.
“But against Leicester and Palace it was unacceptable, but a bit of a mystery to us as well.
“To be fair to the manager as well, he’s said a few things and given us a few home truths and wants us to put it right. He wanted us to get our shape and everything right and when we work together as a team, when we stay compact – especially on the break – we look good.”
As for the reports of training ground bust-ups, Elliot says it was never the case. Instead, he says the frank discussions were because the players care about the state of the football club.
“Contrary to some of the reports, we are a good squad and we do all get on – I can honestly say that,” he added.
“The so-called arguments have not really been arguments, they’ve just been people being more honest and open because they care.
“It’s people talking about things because everyone has different ideas about how they want to play football, but we just need to make sure we’re doing everything together and I think maybe that’s cleared the air in the last week and we’re better for it.
“I think we showed against Liverpool that the personnel – obviously Siem (de Jong) and Papiss (Cisse) haven’t played a lot recently – but they came in and did brilliantly for us, as did the lads off the bench, then Gini (Wijnaldum) just finished off the chances.”
Having conceded five goals against Crystal Palace, and having watched Liverpool smash six past Southampton, Elliot admits he was nervous heading into the game against Jurgen Klopp’s men – especially as he was between the sticks when Liverpool fired six past Newcastle at St James’s two seasons ago.
He said: “You do get the demons in the back of your head but I think when you see that you realise ‘Actually, we need to turn up, because if we don’t give 100 per cent against a team like these, they will hurt you.’
“I think we did that and showed what we can do.
“On the contrary, though, I don’t want us to get too excited about us turning the corner or anything because we’ve done this previously and we haven’t fulfilled it, so I think we need to take positives – like the three points – but we need to keep reminding ourselves of how we got the three points and why we got such a good reception from the crowd and why it was such a good day after the work we put in.
“The last time I played against Liverpool I conceded six and that was at St James’s Park. So it was great to have the stark contrast of a clean sheet, but it’s about mentality; it’s not just about talent, we’ve got enough of it, it’s about the willingness to work as a team.
“That’s what we need to keep going with, push forward and remember the little things that have led us to this success.”