Garry Monk once called Jonjo Shelvey “lazy” but has admitted the midfielder could still roll up his sleeves and punish Leeds United on Sunday.
Shelvey thrilled and frustrated Monk in equal measure when they were both at Swansea City, before the player was sold and the manager sacked inside a month, just less than a year ago.
They will be on opposite sides when Championship leaders Newcastle aim to make it nine successive wins at sixth-place Leeds.
Monk – pipped by Rafa Benitez to October’s Championship manager of the month award – says: “Jonjo has had a fantastic season.
“He is a talented player and a very dangerous player. Newcastle have high calibre players, a high calibre manager and the most expensive squad in the league.
“You would expect them to be where they are. But our approach will be no different. We need to play our best football and if we do that, then whoever we play we are able to fight and compete for a result.
“With a capacity crowd behind us, then all of us can move forward together.”
It is six years since Leeds last had to lock their gates after a full house, but Monk has revived belief at Elland Road with eight victories in their last 12 matches.
He has learned from his bruising experience at Swansea and from the words of advice Benitez offered when the Spaniard was in charge of Napoli.
The pair crossed paths in February 2014 during a Europa League tie and Monk – then just weeks into his first manager’s job at the Liberty Stadium – has not forgotten advice that he should be his own man and trust his own judgement.
“We had a really good chat. It wasn’t one where he just shook hands and said he had to get on the bus or catch a flight.
“He sat down and we talked for a long time. He offered advice and recalled his experiences as a young manager.
“I’ve got the highest respect for Rafa. His career’s been second to none so it’s great to come up against him, pit my wits against his tactics and try and win.”
Monk admits that his Leeds side are still some way behind Newcastle, with Benitez having retained much of the core of last season’s Premier League strugglers.
“The best teams you come up against in any league are the ones who have been together for a long time. They have improved tactically and technically.
“We have made steps and continued to go forward by learning and we are slowly getting towards where we want to be. Everyone wants success in the short-term, but it takes time – especially when you have a young team like ours.
“Newcastle are expected to win every game they play in this league because they have the most expensive squad and a highly experienced manager who has been at some of the biggest clubs in Europe.
“But we have been enjoying our football at Elland Road and with all those fans backing our club vocally, then we know we are capable of winning the game.”
Both clubs will join together to pay tribute to their former player Gary Speed, with a minute’s applause in the 11th minute to mark the fifth anniversary of his death.