International defender candidly admits he 'went through the motions' at Newcastle United

Rafa Benitez signed Grant Hanley for his Championship experience five years ago.

Yet the defender only played a handful of games for Newcastle United in English football’s second tier.

And Hanley, in Scotland’s Euro 2020 squad, left the club after just 13 months to restart his career with Norwich City where he’s now club captain.

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The 29-year-old, signed from Blackburn Rovers in the summer of 2016 for a reported £5.5million fee, has reflected on what he has described as a “tough” year on Tyneside after helping Norwich win the Championship for the second time in three seasons.

Grant Hanley playing for Newcastle United.

"Looking back a few years down the line, and being able to reflect on it, it was tough for me," Hanley told The High Performance Podcast.

"It was the first time I had a bit of rejection. I got there, and started the first game, and then I wasn't even in the squad the next week.

"For me, that was mind-boggling, and I couldn't believe what was going on. My coping mechanism with that was I was training well, I was helping as much as possible with the lads, and I was trying to help everybody.

"I think that was my coping mechanism (was) to say ‘it's not my fault the manager isn't picking me, what else can I do?’. But I think, from pretty early on in my time at Newcastle, I was going through the motions. I never really believed I was going to get into the team at any point.

Grant Hanley prepares to lead Norwich City out at St James's Pask last year.

"Whenever I played, it was because of injuries. I never really earned my place in the team."

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Hanley had had high hopes for his move after signing a five-year deal at St James’s Park.

However, Hanley never had a run in the team, and the Dumfries-born player has candidly admitted that he “didn’t do enough” in training to get more of an opportunity on Tyneside.

"I thought I’d cracked it," said Hanley. "I thought ‘I’m going to sign for Newcastle, play every week in the Championship and get promoted, and my career was only going to go upwards’.

Rafa Benitez speaks to Grant Hanley during a cup game.
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"That obviously wasn't to be – and it was tough to take. The type of person I am, I never like to look for excuses, so the manager was never someone I was going to look to fall out with or have an argument with.

"My coping mechanism was to say ‘it’s not my fault’, but looking back, if I was the manager, I probably wouldn't have played me either.

"I never had that belief or that drive to think ‘I can do this’, and get in this team.

"It is sad for me, and it was tough for me to say that for a long time, but that is the way it was. I still think if I got in the team, and got a few games, that would have changed, but probably, deep down, I know I didn't do enough to earn that."

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Hanley made five league starts, and scored one goal, during his year at Newcastle.

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