Rob Lee talks Newcastle United ‘expectations’ and possibilities ahead of new season

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Rob Lee has been discussing Newcastle United.

Our former winger / attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder, talking about how ‘we’ might get on.

Rob Lee is one of those players who really got the club, loved playing for Newcastle United and was a real star turn.

Arguably Kevin Keegan’s best pound for pound signing, Rob Lee knows what it is all about at St James’ Park and what makes a good player AND manager.

Rob Lee talking about Newcastle United ahead of the new 2022/23 Premier League season:

Newcastle United expectation this season…

“There was probably more expectation [at Newcastle] when Bobby Robson came in after Ruud Gullit, but yes for me it compares to when Kevin Keegan was there.

“They put season tickets up for sale the other week and there were queues going all the way round St James’ Park trying to get them. I remember when I joined Newcastle, they were locking out 5,000, 10,000 people every week. They just seem to be very optimistic about the way the club is run, the manager they have got in, the players they’re buying, and it seems to be after 14 years of nothingness really that they are moving in the right direction.

Issue 46 – February 1993

“When Kevin was there and Sir John Hall was running the club, they always kept the Newcastle fans informed.

“We had 3,000 people watching our training sessions under Keegan. It wasn’t like it is now where they lock people out. He wanted the fans in. He had no secrets. When he sold Andy Cole he went onto the steps of St James’ and explained his reasons why. All the fans want in Newcastle is to be included and to be told what’s going on. They haven’t had that for a long time and they’re getting that now.”

Time to build…

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“What I like is that we [Newcastle] could have easily gone mad with the amount of money that people say Newcastle have to go in for Neymar or Ronaldo or Mbappe. I think they’ve done it right. They’ve bought some quality players, Premier League players last year to keep them up and now they’re buying even better players.

The Mag Issue 70 October 1994

Issue 70 – October 1994

“I’ve always said the Leicester and the Man City owners have done it the right way. They have included all the community in what they do and what they spend their money on. They have built it gradually and slowly. Who would have said that Leicester City would win trophies? I wouldn’t. And Man City when I used to play against them many years ago, they were a million miles off winning trophies and being the club they are now.

“You do need money, but it also needs time because other teams are spending money and building things – and they have a head-start on you, so it does take time.”

Eddie Howe…

“I knew Eddie Howe was a good manager.

“He did it at Bournemouth. I think people maybe doubted him when he went to Burnley. He struggled a little bit, but then came back to Bournemouth. People maybe saw Burnley as a bit of a failure and that he could only do it at Bournemouth with everything he knows.

“Going to Newcastle which is a huge football club and comes with huge things on and off the pitch that you have to deal with, I think he has surprised a lot of people.

“You have to be able to deal with the fans, you have to be able to deal with the players – and big players. He’s dealt with that fantastically well. You speak to most of the players now and they love him. They love the way he trains, and they seem to be enjoying their football. I was always taught that if you’re enjoying your football, nine times out of ten you will play well.

“I don’t see why he can’t take Newcastle all the way to where they want to be. I think this will be a big season for him and we’ll certainly know more because when he took over I think we were bottom of the league by a million miles and hadn’t won in 14 games, so he did a fantastic job in keeping the club up. Now there are more expectations. I think we finished 11th, but he could have finished fourth from bottom and it would have been success. Now Newcastle fans expect to finish in the top ten at least and they want us to go for Europe, which is a big ask.”

Relying on Callum Wilson?

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“When you’re struggling, first and foremost you have to stop conceding goals, which is what he did. We didn’t score many and we still don’t score as many as we used to – when Callum Wilson’s missing we struggle – but we didn’t let many in. That was a big factor in us staying up.

“We always used to have people who scored goals – Shearer, Beardsley, Andy Cole, Asprilla, Ginola – and were always known as an attacking team, we had the entertainers tag.

The Mag Issue 80 August 1995

Issue 80 – August 1995

“It’s slightly different now because Eddie’s shored us up at the back but now, we need players that can score goals. We can’t rely on Callum Wilson constantly. He missed half the season last year and was still our top scorer.”

Rob Lee was talking to Sky Bet about the Sky Bet Fan Hope Survey, a poll of over 2500 fans on their hopes and expectations ahead of the new season. To read more from Lee, and to take the survey, visit the Sky Bet Start of Season Hub.

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