Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez
It was a tough start to life in the Championship for Newcastle after two straight defeats had them languishing in the bottom half of the table.
However, things have turned around since then, with the side gelling at last and performing to a very high standard. Karl Darlow, who lost his place in goal to Matz Sels but has since won it back, told the Chronicle Live about how he was left frustrated at the lack of opportunities at the start of the season.
While many fans may have been nervously chewing their fingernails after two straight loses at the start of the season, the pragmatic Rafael Benitez was as calm as ever, trusting in his managerial ability and his player. This has paid dividends, with the team firing on all cylinders in recent weeks as they have shot up the league table.
Newcastle's Karl Darlow
The likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Dwight Gayle and Vurnon Anita have been superb for Newcastle with their performances in recent weeks helping the team to bolster their promotion bid.
Karl Darlow has also been in good form this term, with the goalkeeper installed as the number one following a poor start to life in the Championship for Matz Sels. Since being brought back into the fold, Darlow has looked far more commanding and assured than Selz, which has only made the Magpies stronger.
However, Darlow was left frustrated at the beginning of the season after he lost his place to Selz for the start of the new campaign. He told the Chronicle Live: "I just had to keep going. I did that. It was tough and frustrating at times, I think you’ll see throughout the season different teams each and every week. We know that we need to stay focused".
Newcastle's Karl Darlow celebrates at the end of the match
"It was tough at the start, but now I’m in, I’m happy that I’m playing and the team is doing well".
It is clear then that Darlow is desperate to be a part of this Newcastle side, and he has done an admirable job so far. He is a far more physically commanding presence than Selz, while his confidence enables the defence to settle in a way they were not able to when Selz was in goal.
However, Darlow does face a tough test when Rob Elliot returns to action, with the injured goalkeeper the number one choice last season.
Newcastle's Rob Elliot celebrates at the end of the match