When football players stray from talking about…football, it often doesn’t end well.
Thursday saw Jamaal Lascelles calling for a united front in the battle against relegation but in the process talked about ‘Nice Guy’ Mike Ashley. The captain calling for fans not to protest/boycott and instead just turn up and support the team.
Unfortunately, those fan tactics haven’t worked too well so far this season.
It was a very badly orchestrated Mike Ashley PR stunt overall with Jamaal Lascelles the pawn in the middle of it.
To a great fanfare the club announced that the NUFC captain had agreed a morale boosting new six year contract – all very lame as Lascelles still had five years remaining of the six year deal he’d signed only last October (2017).
The idea of Mike Ashley being part of any united front is laughable for fans, his divide and rule tactics have continually split the club.
One example of just how long this Ashley reign has lasted, is the fact that Jamaal Lascelles was only 13 years old when the owner took over NUFC in 2007.
He (Lascelles) was only 14 when Mike Ashley appointed Dennis Wise to undermine and force out Kevin Keegan, he would have been more concerned about acne and girls than the situation at Newcastle a decade ago, never mind form an opinion.
However, in more recent years, as an adult and a Newcastle United player, Lascelles should have come to understand what Mike Ashley is all about.
Ironically, whilst the captain is saying Newcastle fans shouldn’t protest/boycott, only this summer Jamaal Lascelles led the players in a battle with the owner because he (Mike Ashley) was refusing (once again) to agree a bonus structure in line with rival Premier League clubs. Indeed, Jamaal and the rest of the players going to the lengths of actually boycotting media duties (including Sky Sports and even the club’s own media!) until the NUFC owner agreed to the players’ demands.
This summer also saw Mike Ashley going through another classic routine with the fans.
Firstly, putting season ticket prices up in every section of St James Park.
Secondly, insisting on a £20m+ profit on transfer deals in and out.
Thirdly, taking £10m out of the club after the transfer deadline had passed.
The net result is a squad lacking investment in the relegation zone with no wins in 10 games and a very unhappy fanbase.
How then, Mike Ashley would fulfil any role in a United front is a mystery to most of us.
The connection between manager, players and fans is what will get Newcastle out of trouble this season, if indeed they do.
Seeing Mike Ashley turn up again at matches and take Rafa & the players out for a pizza, has at best been a sideshow and at worst a distraction.
The best club owners are those who simply get on with backing their managers and you rarely hear of them or see them.
Newcastle fans look forward to the day that this happens and we have a true united front.