Ryan Taylor: 'The sky is the limit for United under Rafa'
Written by Dan King
Two years after winning the Championship title in 2009/10, Newcastle United finished fifth in the Premier League - and a key member of that squad believes the Magpies have the potential to achieve something similar under Rafa Benítez.
Ryan Taylor was part of that promotion-winning side which enjoyed a season of consolidation in their first year back in the top flight before qualifying for Europe in the next campaign.
And the former fans' favourite - who remains the last man to score a winning goal for Newcastle against local rivals Sunderland - is backing the current team to cement their place in the Premier League this term following last year's title win, before pushing on under Benítez.
Taylor was back on Tyneside for the 125 Plate at Newcastle Racecourse on Friday night, as part of the club's 125th anniversary celebrations.
And he told NUFC TV: "When you look at the club as a whole, they've got everything. They just need to believe in themselves a little bit more.
"Okay, it wasn't a great transfer window but the squad is good enough to compete in the Premier League, as we've already seen. And if they can stay in the top half this season, and keep Rafa, I'm sure they can only push on from there.
"Hopefully they get a few more signings next season and push the club on even further. As a Newcastle fan and ex-player, that's what you want to see.
"I know we did manage fifth (in 2011/12) but the club as a whole has got the potential to reach the same again, if not better."
Taylor added: "If Rafa's happy and he stays, there's only one way the club's going. I've heard some great things about him on the training pitch, how hard he works, behind the scenes. You keep Rafa and you're only going in one direction."
The likeable Liverpudlian, now 33, caught up with the likes of Terry McDermott and John Carver at Friday night's event, which was also attended by Nikos Dabizas, Malcolm Macdonald, Bob Moncur and many more former players.
And Taylor - who spent six years with the Magpies and made more than 100 appearances, still receives a warm welcome whenever he returns to Newcastle.
"I think they appreciate not just the goal against Sunderland; I think they just appreciated the fact I tried my best every time I played for the club, and that’s what they want from you," he said.
"I went to the golf (the British Masters at Close House) and there was a group teeing off in the tournament, and lads are singing the song! I'm like 'lads, time and place!'
"But it's great - and it always makes you feel really loved when you come back to Newcastle."
"We did manage fifth but the club as a whole has got the potential to reach the same again, if not better."