Sean Longstaff exclusive: Newcastle United need to forget about Rafa Benitez
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Last Updated: 25/08/19 3:13pm
Sean Longstaff has urged Newcastle United's supporters to forget about former manager Rafa Benitez and get behind the team.
The Spaniard left St. James' Park this summer, having failed to agree a contract extension while also stating the inability to find a shared vision with the club's hierarchy.
Benitez's departure sparked fan protests over the running of the club by owner Mike Ashley with the side currently winless under new manager Steve Bruce.
And speaking exclusively to Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday, Longstaff admits it has been a 'tough' summer but believes the only way forward is to focus on the future, not the past.
"I was speaking to Rafa (Benitez) throughout the summer, and ultimately I think everyone wanted him to stay," Longstaff said. "But that's football. Things change, and ultimately he didn't want to stay.
"It's in the past now and I think everybody, as harsh as it sounds, has to sort of forget about him, as tough as that can be.
"We've spent a lot of the start of the season talking about Rafa, and he's not here. Ultimately he doesn't have an impact on the team or football club at this time.
"If the team start picking up results, everything will look more positive and people will forget about the previous manager, as long as we're successful on the pitch."
A 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal on the opening day of the season followed by a 3-1 defeat to Premier League new boys Norwich means Newcastle travel to Tottenham on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, already in the bottom three.
It prompted Bruce to call the entire squad into training last Sunday after the Carrow Road defeat, with Longstaff admitting although no one is panicking, the additional session was needed to clear the air.
"We had an honest chat, we've got an honest group, with a lot of leaders and it came from us really," Longstaff said.
"We know as a group we need to be better, and hopefully it's behind us now, and everyone is looking to be as positive as we can.
"We're not panicking and everyone is working as hard as they can to make each other better."
Newcastle support means everything
Longstaff, born and bred in Newcastle, knows more than most what the football club means to supporters and was quick to praise them and stress how important they will be in helping the side overturn their poor start.
"We know it's not been an ideal start, but I think the whole city needs to get behind the team," he said.
"We know how important they are to the club, and especially in home games, they can make a difference. They help us so much.
"They're also the best away fans in the country, hands down. It doesn't matter where we go: Bournemouth, Norwich, everywhere is miles from Newcastle and the away end is always packed.
"Even when we're losing, they're louder than the home fans. It gives us belief as players that they are there.
"It means everything to me. It's the only football club I've known.
"Being from this area, you are in the bubble. The atmosphere, what it can be like, is up there with the best in the world."