By Amir Mir
Former Middlesbrough striker Noel Whelan has questioned the attitude of relegated Newcastle United as they prepare for life in the second-tier.
In his column for the Yorkshire Evening Post, the former striker believes the mindset of the players has to change ahead of a tough Championship campaign.
Newcastle were relegated from the Premier League in the 2015-16 season, but former Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez has signed an updated contract to guide their season.
Whelan has questioned whether Newcastle’s players possess the same qualities that enabled Burnley to return to the Premier League at the first attempt in the recently completed domestic season.
“Newcastle are hot favourites to win the Championship and Burnley were well fancied last time,” wrote Whelan in his YEP column. “With Burnley we knew they were going to be thereabouts but I think they had a little bit more character in their dressing room then Newcastle.
“A lot of players there have come in to Newcastle believing they were going to be in the Premier league.
“We will see if they have got the right attitude and appetite to play in the Championship because it’s a completely different kettle of fish.
“We will soon see if they are trying to get out of the club and get another somewhere in the top flight or if they want to dig in and earn their money and get the club back to where it was.”
Whelan, who co-commentates on Leeds United games for BBC Yorkshire, believes the parachute payments received by the North-East club is an “advantage” in keeping their squad strong.
“You have got to look at the teams that have come down as favourites because they have still got the parachute payment so they can keep the players that they bought for the Premier League,” said Whelan in his column.
“It gives them an advantage but, saying that, there’s no given right to getting promotion because you have come down. There will be a lot of teams with good squads who just didn’t quite make it last season going for it again.”
Whelan, who began his career at Leeds, has backed his former club to get off to a good start when their season kicks off on 7 August against Queens Park Rangers. He also feels the club should cherish the ties against Aston Villa and Newcastle in the new season.
“We’ve also got Villa away on New Year’s Eve – what a great game to have.
“The fans can enjoy it and it’s one of those delicious games that you look forward to, along with those against another of the relegated clubs, Newcastle United.” said Whelan.
In other Newcastle news, a £12million player has contacted his former manager to secure a summer transfer.