Rob Elliot admits he did not realise how good a manager Rafael Benitez was until he came to Newcastle

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez

The Newcastle United goalkeeper was aware of Benitez's managerial talent but was unaware of just how good a coach he is.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez

Newcastle United goalkeeper Rob Elliot has told the club's official website that he did not realise just how good a manager Rafael Benitez is until he began to work under the Spaniard.

Benitez took charge of a Magpies side in March which looked doomed to being relegated without a fight and led them agonisingly close to pulling off a great escape.

The Tyneside club went unbeaten in their final six games of the season but were ultimately sunk by their failure to beat already-relegated Aston Villa at Villa Park in the penultimate game of the campaign.

Newcastle United's Rob Elliot

Benitez's tactical nous and managerial methods clearly worked wonders at St. James' Park once they had time to take effect, and numerous players have spoken of their admiration and faith in the former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss.

Elliot, who had a 22-game spell as the club's first-choice goalkeeper after Tim Krul's injury before his own season was ended prematurely, admitted that he did not fully appreciate just how good a manager Benitez was until he began to work with him.

The Republic of Ireland international told the Magpies website: "Rafa wants to change the club in the way that he sees is right. He's done that at many different places and has experience of managing in England, too. It is a win-win for everyone and hopefully we can look forward to a lot of success.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez

"You can tell the experience he's got from the top level, and I don't think I realised just how good he would be until I worked under him.  You can see the difference in team over the final few weeks of the season, even if it didn't end the way we wanted it to.

"Everything was done on merit, there were no predetermined actions and he doesn't miss a trick. Hopefully he can help us push on as a club and we can have some really good times here."

Benitez's decision this week to sign a new three-year deal at Newcastle despite their relegation is a huge coup despite the Spaniard never having managed in the Championship, and has bred plenty of optimism amongst players and supporters that things can only get better.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez applauds fans after the game

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