Grant Hanley reflects on the ‘difficult’ adjustment he had to make at Newcastle

Newcastle United's Grant Hanley.
Newcastle United's Grant Hanley.
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Grant Hanley is used to playing. Week after week.

Yet at Newcastle United, Hanley has been on the bench. Week after week.

Obviously, I’ve come from playing most weeks to being on the bench most weeks. You learn in football that you need to adapt quickly and you need to do whatever it takes.

Grant Hanley

The defender had been captain at Blackburn Rovers.

United manager Rafa Benitez recruited powerfully-built Hanley last summer for his Championship experience and aerial ability.

However, the 25-year-old has had to make a “difficult” adjustment at St James’s Park.

Sitting on the bench doesn’t come easily to Hanley, who is likely to be among the substitutes for tomorrow evening’s televised game against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.

“It is difficult,” said Hanley, who started last weekend’s 1-0 win over Derby County.

“Obviously, I’ve come from playing most weeks to being on the bench most weeks.

“You learn in football that you need to adapt quickly and you need to do whatever it takes.

“It’s not a situation that’s not familiar to me. I had it for a couple of years at Blackburn as a young lad trying to break into the team. It’s similar.

“The thing is, you just need to keep your head down and keep working hard.

“Football can change, for better or worse, at the drop of a hat.

“You just need to make sure you’re ready at all times.”

Blackburn manager Owen Coyle didn’t want to lose Hanley, but Newcastle’s persistance eventually paid off.

Hanley signed a five-year deal with United after the two clubs eventually agreed a £5million fee.

On Newcastle’s move for him, Hanley said: “When a club like Newcastle wants you, it’s massive.”

Hanley – who replaced captain Jamaal Lascelles in Benitez’s starting XI against Derby – put in a powerful performance alongside Ciaran Clark as the club returned to the top of the Championship.

And he’s hoping to make many more appearances at St James’s Park, a stadium Hanley feels should be a “fortress” for Newcastle.

“It’s second-to-none when you’re out there and the fans are behind you,” said the Dumfries-born player.

“Sometimes it’s like having an extra man.

“I’ve played against teams where their fans are like an extra man for them. It’s important for us, especially at home.

“Hopefully, we can build a bit of a fortress and teams won’t enjoy coming here.”

Hanley’s used to pressure.

Blackburn were often struggling at the wrong end of the table during Hanley’s career at the club.

And he was a regular the season the club was relegated from the Premier League.

A different kind of pressure comes with being at the other end of the table.

“If you’re going into every game and it’s the game of the season for them (the opposition),” said Hanley, who made more than 200 appearances for Blackburn.

“Everybody wants to beat Newcastle.

“It’s certainly is a different kind of pressure – probably a better kind of pressure than fighting for your life every week.”

Hanley was linked with a reunion with former Blackburn manager Paul Lambert at Wolves in last month’s transfer window.

Benitez, however, made it clear that Hanley – who scored his first Newcastle goal in September’s 6-0 win over Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road – would not be allowed to leave St James’s Park.