Isaac Hayden: Players respected Rafa Benitez but club has to move on under Steve Bruce now

Isaac Hayden has gone from zero to hero in the last 12 months with Newcastle United.

A red card away to Cardiff City on the first away game of the season resulted in Hayden, who had handed in a transfer request with the Magpies for personal reasons, enduring some harsh social media abuse.

The 0-0 draw, which also saw Kenedy missing a last-gasp penalty, proved to be a difficult day for Newcastle and had something of a knock-on effect too, with Rafa Benitez’s side taking until November to win their first game at the 11th attempt.

Fast forward to the first road trip game of the season for Newcastle fans and Hayden is still here and looks set to stay and sign a new contract.

He had a terrific season last time around, despite his well documented difficulties off the field.

Hayden’s career at United has turned around since that day in Cardiff with supporters now even chanting his name.

That was the case against Arsenal at the weekend, and Hayden reflected: “Yeah, but like I’ve said, it’s one of those things in football.

“I just try to do my best. If the fans appreciate that, even better.

“I think I’ve shown over the past six months the kind of character that I have and the character I am and the intensity and workrate that I put in. If that’s appreciated, then fantastic.”

Isaac Hayden of Newcastle United reacts after being shown a red card
Isaac Hayden of Newcastle United reacts after being shown a red card

Hayden’s mind seemed to be swayed about staying at Newcastle over the summer – not least after an emotional ovation from fans at Fulham during the 4-0 hammering on the banks of the Thames in May.

He said: “It’s been nice. You know, it’s one of those things.

“Like I said in a previous interview I did with the football club, when you get an opportunity like this … it’s (up to) 52,000 fans at home.

“You don’t get this passion for football at many other football clubs.

“There are not many football clubs in England which have got this fanbase and this passion.

“To play in front of it week-in, week-out should be a privilege for anyone, really.”

Newcastle lost narrowly to Hayden’s former club on Sunday but the Magpies were not too far away from grabbing a positive result.

Hayden said: “Our goalkeeper didn’t really have too many saves to make.

“That is credit to our defence and the way we defended.”

Hayden also admitted he was enjoying the style of play under Steve Bruce – a manager he’s worked before with at Hull City.

He said: “Under previous managers we have been a lot more defensive and solid but still ended up losing games.

“We lost tight games when being defensive.

“But against Arsenal we took the game to them and took a few more gambles.

“It paid off to an extent.

“If it wasn’t for good saves from their keeper and our final balls it could have been different.”

Bruce is approaching one month in charge at United and has already had some big hurdles to overcome from an external point of view.

But speaking about the man he sees on a day to day basis behind the scenes, Hayden said: “When a new manager comes in it is always difficult for himself and the players.

“But I think the players have taken to him really well.

“They have understood the direction he wants to go in.

“Obviously it will take time. Nobody is under any illusions.”

Rafa Benitez passes on advice to Isaac Hayden in the FA Cup win over Luton
Rafa Benitez passes on advice to Isaac Hayden in the FA Cup win over Luton

Former boss Rafa Benitez spoke out about his time in charge at United this week following managing director Lee Charnley’s programme notes last week.

When asked the dressing room view on things and whether the page has been turned or not on Benitez, Hayden said: “I think it’s already turned.

“A lot of the players respected Rafa – myself included.

“He was the one who brought me to the club.

“Everyone has respect for him but at the end of the day he chose to move on.

“We now have a new manager.

“As individuals we have to focus on the new era.

“We have exciting new players and it’s a fresh start for everyone.”

 

Author: Hot reporter