Former Newcastle youngster Ivan Toney has spoken out about his timing on Tyneside, revealing how Rafa Benitez never gave him the chance to prove himself at St James’ Park.
The 23-year-old – who is now scoring goals for fun with Peterborough – admits rejection from Rafa was ‘tough to take’, but feels he was treated unfairly by the Spaniard.
18 months on from his £650,000 exit, Toney is now the country’s second top scorer and has been linked with a move back to the top flight as a result, with Raheem Sterling being the only Englishman to better his tally of 17 goals so far this season.
Here’s what he’s had to say during an interview with Sky Sports, discussing his relationship with Rafa Benitez:
“When he came in I was injured at the time and he [Benitez] put the injured lads at the bottom end so it was kind of tough to take,”
“Rafa is a great manager but personally I don’t think I was given that chance [to play].
“That’s my opinion on it, others may feel different.”
“It’s a game of opinions, if one manager doesn’t want you it doesn’t mean another doesn’t.”
It sounds like he was the victim of Benitez’s typically brutal and impersonal approach, however his form over the past few years suggests the Spaniard may have cast the youngster aside too soon.
That said, we didn’t see him in training or know what his attitude and application was like both on and off the pitch – but his rise to form at Peterborough suggests there is a real player in there.
Toney then discussed his drop down to League One and his plans to play at ‘the top’ some day soon:
“It’s a blessing in disguise, I’ve come to Peterborough and found my feet again and doing well for myself.
“You just have to keep playing and have that belief that you can get to the top.
“It’s great having that confidence and the manager believing in you and your team-mates giving you the service you desire.”
Yes he’s scoring goals in League One – a level way below that of the Premier League – but it’s hard to ignore the irony of us letting him leave on the cheap and signing a £40m striker who looks so unlikely to score goals on current form.
It feels like he was sold too soon, yet he rightfully sees his sale as a blessing in disguise after seeing his stock rise significantly across 2019.
Did Rafa Benitez make a big mistake not giving him a chance and sanctioning his sale?