ROB Elliot plans to step up from uncomplaining reserve and provide genuine competition for Tim Krul this season.
The goalkeeper admits his self-perception has changed nearly a year after joining from League One Charlton Athletic, and his long-term aim is to oust the Dutchman.
Elliot alternated with Steve Harper on the bench last term as Krul enjoyed a hugely impressive first full season of senior football on Tyneside. In a little over a year Krul established himself as a full international with the Netherlands, and one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.
Twenty-six-year-old Elliot (right) only played once for the Magpies, conceding three at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. But now the quiet understudy has set himself loftier goals.
“When I first came I was a squad keeper, now I’m hopefully the No.2 pushing Tim,” he commented.
“The more games you play, the more competitions you’re in, hopefully the more opportunities you get to play.
“The plan is still to eventually become No.1 and play every week but you have to just take every chance you get to play well and show the manager you can do it.
“Obviously if he ever does need a keeper, he knows he can come to me and rely on me.”
Elliot saw enough of manager Alan Pardew’s selection policy last season to believe his ambition is not a pipe dream.
“I think what you find at our club is if you perform well, you stay in the team,” he said.
“That’s how it works. With the squad we’ve got, we’ve got competition in every single place and that really, really keeps everyone on their toes. No one is stuck in a rut with
our squad. It is a good mentality to have – if you don’t have that you end up with poor performances.
“It is a fantastic mentality to have and we all know that whoever has those shirts on the first day of the season deserves them and has done everything they can to get them.
“If you know you’re playing to stay in the team, performances are raised.”
Elliot’s appetite for self-improvement mirrors that of the squad as a whole, he says.
“We have to keep going forward,” he added. “With this squad, and the age of it, it’s only going to get better and better year on year.
“If we can match last year, get a top-half finish and do well in the one of the cups, that would be an excellent season.
“It’s difficult to put a target on it because we did so well last season, but finishing below fifth wouldn’t be a nightmare. We’ve got an extra competition and for some of us, we’ve never played European football before.”
Krul’s former club Den Haag confirmed yesterday they are to host United in a pre-season friendly, though confirmation by Newcastle remains frustrating by its absence.
Den Haag have said they will play Newcastle at 5pm local time on August 4. Details of United’s pre-season programme remain annoyingly sketchy for fans, with only two Algarve games and a trip to Cardiff City inked into their fixture list.
Even that has been rewritten, with Braga apparently replacing Porto as Newcastle’s July 28 opponents in the “Trofeu do Guadiana”. Their other match is still against Olympiakos.
Friendlies against German side Chemnitzer, Monaco and Fenerbahçe have been widely mooted, but not rubber-stamped. This is despite the fact satellite broadcaster ESPN have announced they will be screening the latter two games.
Krul began his career with local club Den Haag before moving to Tyneside in 2005.
l FORMER striker Peter Løvenkrands has joined Birmingham City. The 32-year-old former Denmark international, a popular figure at St James’ Park, will be working with former Newcastle and Sunderland midfielder Lee Clark, who replaced Chris Hughton as the Midlanders’ manager.
And on his first signing for the Blues, Clark said: “He did very well for Newcastle, has scored goals at this level and he played a huge part in getting them promoted from this division, winning the league.
“When I spoke to him about the move he made a decision very quickly. Once we got an agreement, he’s bringing his family down, moving to the area, doing that very, very quickly as well so it shows you he’s very committed to the job.
“He ticked all the boxes for me in terms of not just being a good player, but a good character.”