I was interested to read what Jamaal Lascelles had been saying.
The Newcastle Captain was talking yesterday about the importance of players bonding as a team both on and off the pitch.
Lascelles saying that Matt Ritchie had told him that this was the secret of Bournemouth’s success, they might not have had the best individuals but as a collective unit they walked the Championship and then comfortably handled Premier League survival last season.
Jamaal Lascelles thinks that fans don’t understand just how important it is that players interact well both on and off the pitch and that outside of football they ‘get to know the real side’ of their team-mates.
To help this process along, Newcastle’s 22 year old Captain says that he recently arranged a night out for all the squad, Lascelles saying ‘I organised a team meal and I made everyone come’.
An interesting choice of words, ‘I made everyone come’.
What can you take from that? Well, I would say that certainly we can assume that some of the Newcastle squad would rather have not done it and were ‘encouraged’ to do so.
Without knowing all the ins and outs of every dressing room, it is difficult to know whether Newcastle are typical, or whether they are/have been one of the worst examples of a divided dressing room.
When Coloccini hosted a dinner party for all the players a few years ago it received a lot of coverage, something which you think that this was very much a one-off.
Other than that we became used to sightings/reports of little cliques of players socialising away from the rest, such as the Argentine trio of Coloccini, Gutierrez and Ferreyra.
This is all a world away from the days of the Keegan Entertainers team that almost won the title in 1995/96, it seems surreal now to remember the days when you’d be celebrating in Newcastle after the match and you would regularly see a dozen or more of the first team squad out on the town as well. Usually into the early hours at Julie’s nightclub, mingling with supporters.
This was repeated in the Sir Bobby days to a large extent, though then there was a more understandable split down the middle. Younger players led by Bellamy and Dyer doing their thing, whilst the older group of Shearer, Lee, Given, Speed etc would be the other close-knit group.
What is common sense is that the higher the league and the bigger the pay and egos of the players these days, maybe the harder it becomes to have a real unity amongst the whole team/squad.
Newcastle are maybe currently in that middle ground and find themselves up against Championship rivals who will have generally come from more humble beginnings and maybe find it easier to develop a tighter dressing room.
A feature of the last promotion team saw the development of a great team spirit that then also carried through to the next season (6-0 v Villa, 5-1 v Sunderland, 1-0 win at Arsenal) until Chris Hughton was stabbed in the back.
Good luck to Jamaal Lascelles in taking on this off/on the pitch job, hopefully he will find it easier than what the team experienced down at Craven Cottage.
Jamaal Lascelles talking to the Chronicle:
“There is a buzz around the training ground, a buzz that we didn’t really have last season.
“OK, a few boys have left, they were excellent lads and great players, but the people that have come in are really positive characters.
“Stuff off the field is just as important and I was speaking to Matt Ritchie about his old AFC Bournemouth team. He said he wouldn’t swap these (Newcastle) players for Bournemouth’s but what they did and why they stayed up and have done so well was because they all knew their jobs and they have a really tight changing room.
“People who aren’t footballers won’t realise how important that is, it is massive.
“The other night I organised a team meal and I made everyone come.
“It’s just little things like that, it is nice to see each other out of football and get to know the real side of people.”