Newcastle defender Steven Taylor has said he believes relegation was the best thing that could have happened to the club.
Taylor, 26, pledged his future to the Magpies despite an exodus of big-name players including Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins and Mark Viduka after they went down in 2009. "The best thing for Newcastle was getting relegated," he told The Times. "For me, that knocked everyone down to size - club, players, fans, even the media in a way because the expectations seeped away."
Speaking prior to Newcastle's Europa League qualifier against Atromitos of Greece, Taylor said now was an exciting time to be at the club, which had a much better atmosphere than in previous seasons.
"When I think about five years ago, the club felt like Big Brother. There was always something happening, always drama," he explained. "We've got players who actually want to be here and do well for the club. It's not about the pay packet. Sometimes in the past, the dressing room looked like a group of islands - the foreigners stuck together, the young lads, the old heads.
"People would finish training and go straight home. I wouldn't see them until the next day and you wouldn't get much conversation out of them. That can't happen now. We're such a small squad that everybody has got to mix."
Taylor said Alan Pardew's team had "raised the bar by finishing fifth last season" and added: "We want to improve - that's the pressure we've got. But after everything this club has been through, it feels like we can deal with anything. We want to make the most of it."