Smith reveals turning point
Alan Smith has pinpointed a player meeting in pre-season as the moment that helped revive Newcastle.
Last Updated: 02/11/09 10:28am
Alan Smith has pinpointed a player meeting in pre-season as the moment that helped Newcastle turn the corner.
The Magpies were relegated from the Premier League at the end of last term and appeared in turmoil over the summer with the ownership of the club uncertain and no permanent manager in place.
They suffered a humiliating 6-1 defeat to Leyton Orient as they prepared for the new campaign and Smith admits it provided a much-needed wake-up call.
The midfielder has now revealed that the players came together to discuss the situation and made it clear they either had to commit to the club or leave.
Newcastle have gone on to make a good start to the season, with Chris Hughton appointed as full-time boss and Mike Ashley taking the club off the market.
"The hardest thing at the start of the season was knowing which players wanted to stay. We came back in the summer and no-one knew what was going on in terms of could players be sold," Smith told the Daily Mirror.
"Certain players were making it clear they wanted to leave but the club said no-one was going to be sold. That was the most difficult time.
"We went to Leyton Orient and it was a disaster. But everything came to a head. It was clear that five or six of the players wanted to leave, which was fair enough. We had a meeting when we came back from the game - just us players.
"We said whoever wants to leave, they can leave, and we'll help them to go. Whoever wants to stay then commit yourself to stay. That's where we are now. That was a massive turning point.
"In a way getting that bad result was the best thing that could have happened. It was what needed to happen.
"It was one of the strangest things ever. We were managing ourselves. Chris knew that we were having that meeting and he stood back and let us sort things out."
Muck and nettles
Smith insists he did not consider leaving St James' Park as he was always determined to help Newcastle fight their way out of such a competitive division.
"There was never a chance that I would be one of the ones asking to go. I needed to play regular football. That's what I've missed for the last three seasons," he said.
"You just want to play. I was 29 on Wednesday so I can't afford to miss any more games. I never feel any twinge of regret. I wanted to stay.
"The Championship is more muck and nettles. It's Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday.
"You go to grounds where as a kid I used to watch football. The Premier League is this massive worldwide thing, it's unbelievable. But this division has something special as well."