Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles has spoken out in defence of controversial club owner Mike Ashley, describing the Sports Direct billionaire as a “nice guy”. Lascelles committed his long-term future to the club earlier this week, signing a new six-year contract that will see him remain at St James’ Park until the 2024/25 season.
Since taking over as Newcastle owner back in 2007, Mike Ashley has become one of the most polarising figures in world football. Under Ashley, Newcastle United have experienced a number of ups and downs, including two relegations to the Championship, and ahead of this weekend’s match against Watford, the Magpies once again find themselves on the brink of disaster.
Newcastle currently sit 19th on the Premier League table, having failed to win any of their opening 10 league fixtures. The club’s recent run of poor results has seen fans turn on Ashley, pointing towards a lack of investment in the team as a key reason behind their current predicament.
Magpies players have often been unwilling to share their thoughts on their controversial owner; however, earlier this week centre-back Jamaal Lascelles opened up about Ashley, suggesting that fans should try to create a more positive atmosphere around St James’ Park.
“Me speaking honestly, and it might not be what everyone wants to hear, but I think as a club it’s important that everyone is together, especially as we’re right down at the bottom of the table,” said Lascelles. “So I do think having the meal was a really positive thing; sitting down, meeting him for the first time, listening to how the owner speaks and what he’s like as a man. The players are all saying the same thing, you know, he’s a nice guy!
“He’s no different, he’s just in a situation where the fingers are pointed at him, but I think it was a positive meeting, and if it could happen more I don’t think it would do any harm.”
“I think that everyone in Newcastle should stop the negativity and form unity instead. As players, you’re on the pitch, and I’m not making excuses but when there are so many problems going around off the pitch, it will affect us.
“Personally, me speaking, I think it would be better if we came together, put all that bad energy into creating a positive, and trying to get us boys to get three points, because that’s what everyone wants.”