Mike Ashley has brought to an end his 2018/19 bonuses dispute with the Newcastle players.
Last summer it took until mid-September for agreement to be reached for last season’s bonuses, with the NUFC owner refusing to agree to the going rate paid by equivalent clubs.
Twelve months later it was same again, Mike Ashley not wanting to pay the NUFC squad appropriate bonuses and winding them up to the extent, that they refused to speak to the media, including the club’s own, after each of the last two pre-season friendlies.
This was then topped on Monday, when the players agreed between themselves not to do ‘walk-up’ shots for Sky Sports and BT Sport.
Monday’s actions appear to have struck a nerve with Mike Ashley, as it has now been confirmed by Jamaal Lascelles that the bonuses issue has been sorted with the season set to kick-off in three days time.
Needless to say, the last thing the NUFC owner wants to do is upset the TV chiefs, with the worldwide broadcast coverage being Ashley’s prime motivation for owning the club to promote his retail empire.
As for Jamaal Lascelles, he has been doing his captain’s bit as well, talking positive ahead of what looks a very difficult start to the season.
Lascelles talks about ‘gelling together’ and with so few minutes for new signings in the five pre-season matches, Newcastle really need the likes of Muto and Rondon to get up to speed as quickly as possible in their new surroundings.
The owner has yet again put as many obstacles as possible in the way of Rafa and his season preparations, now the manager will need all the benefit of his experience to get his team/squad ready.
Jamaal Lascelles speaking to the official club site:
“It would have been nice to get a couple of good results out of the games but what’s important is we’ve got all the fitness we need for the first game of the season, and I think gradually we’ve improved.
“I think the last game (against Augsburg), we can definitely take a lot of positives from that – okay, we didn’t win but we got everything we need out of the game.
“The majority of the team got through (pre-season) injury free and everyone is really fit. Especially for me, last pre-season I didn’t really get to play much because I was injured but I’ll be looking to play this game and hopefully I’ll be flying.
“And that goes for the rest of the team. Everybody looks sharp, we’re training hard and we’ve all got our heads in the right place.
“We’ve managed to sort the off-field stuff (2018/19 bonuses with Mike Ashley); now that’s out of the way, we don’t have any reason why we can’t go out and put on a good performance.
“We know where we stand. No-one’s moaning, no-one’s upset and now it’s just about gelling together even more, working hard, getting a good energy around the club and the training ground – and doing what we do best which is working hard and playing as team.”
“We finished tenth (last season) with the team that we’ve got now, and we’ve now got the likes of Martin and Kenedy for the full season rather than just half a season.
“And adding to that, Rondón’s a very good signing – a very powerful player, fast, strong.
“I didn’t play against West Brom away but when we played them at home, in terms of physicality, he’s probably one of the toughest strikers I’ve played against.
“He’s strong, he can run in behind, he can win headers and he works hard for the team. He’s experienced in the Premier League so I think that’s going to give us a massive boost and since he’s been training with us he’s looked really good.
“Mutō looks very energetic and works hard, and we’ve all played against Ki and technically he’s excellent on the ball, a very tidy player, and I think he’ll work really well in that midfield.
“So we’ve made some good signings and I think it won’t take long for us to really gel together and carry on with the same team chemistry that we had last year.”