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Opinion

Jamaal Lascelles should have left Newcastle United

1 month ago
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Jamaal Lascelles was only 20 when he signed for Newcastle United.

The young centre-back arriving along with Karl Darlow from Nottingham Forest in summer 2014.

The pair costing around £3.5m each according to widespread reports at the time and then instantly loaned back to Forest for the season.

A year later when the pair became part of the NUFC first team squad for the 2015/16 season, they still proved pretty anonymous to fans.

Under Steve McClaren, Karl Darlow only made one Premier League start, whilst Jamaal Lascelles it was only four.

Rafa Benitez’ fourth game in charge was a 3-1 defeat at Southampton in April 2016, a 21 year old Jamaal Lascelles came off the bench that day but made headlines for what happened afterwards.

The young defender standing up and telling the dressing room what a shambles they had been and things needed to change.

Following that dressing room dressing down, Newcastle United went undefeated in their final six Premier League games, including draws against Liverpool and Man City, as well as a 5-1 over Spurs. Jamaal Lascelles starting four of the six games.

Jamaal Lascelles never really looked back from there under Rafa Benitez, the 21 year old made captain and leading Newcastle back into the Premier League at the first attempt. The former Forest player now in his fifth season as Newcastle captain and set to turn 27 next month (11 November 2020).

Jamaal Lascelles has proved a great signing for Newcastle United but I’m afraid it is now a case of diminishing returns for both player and club.

I think Jamaal Lascelles should have left Newcastle United some time ago. Precisely, July 2019.

It would be harsh to say that Rafa Benitez should take all the credit for Jamaal Lascelles as a player but he certainly took the raw talent (and character) and moulded him into a Premier League centre-back and captain.

In a well drilled defence, back four or back five, Lascelles was the main man, Rafa’s man on the pitch.

Not that Rafa Benitez ever let him rest on his laurels, a couple of times the Spaniard dropped his captain when he felt he was slackening off.

After promotion, Newcastle United had the seventh best defence in both the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons, the seventh lowest number of goals conceded.

In 2019/20, Newcastle United had, despite the heroics of Martin Dubravka, the seventh worst defence in the top tier in terms of goals conceded.

In 43 Premier League games since Rafa Benitez left, Newcastle have conceded three or more goals on 11 occasions, slightly more than once every four matches.

The defence doesn’t look the same and neither does Jamaal Lascelles.

Once upon a time the first name on the team sheet for many fans, I think fair to say that if a new centre-back was signed, an overwhelming majority of supporters would see Fernandez the automatic choice to stay in the team and not Lascelles.

I think Jamaal Lascelles should have left Newcastle United last summer as soon as Rafa was forced out, maybe an ambitious club such as Everton, Wolves or Leicester might have seen him as a good option.

If so, Jamaal Lascelles could have then potentially got better and better under a quality coach such as Nuno, Rodgers and now Ancelotti.

Instead, Jamaal Lascelles seems to be floundering under Steve Bruce. He’s not terrible, just not the player he was.

Ahead of the Wolves match, Lascelles has done his latest club interview.

Sadly, this is what we have been used to seeing, him wheeled out to put out Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce propaganda. Perhaps the captain doing it out of a misplaced sense of duty to the club or what, who knows.

Jamaal Lascelles speaking positively about the performance against Man Utd, how unlucky they had been etc etc, this is the best Newcastle team since he has been at the club and so on.

Increasingly, as well as seeing no attacking plan, Newcastle fans are also seeing little protection for the goalkeeper at the other end, as Bruce’s tactics invite the opposition to dominate and make the NUFC goal look like a shooting gallery.

Karl Darlow passed the baton by an injured Martin Dubravka, expected to perform at his very best in most matches just to give Newcastle a chance.

Maybe a new manager could come in and get these same Newcastle players playing an awful lot better…but we are not going to see that, no way would Mike Ashley be willing to remove his patsy and chief shield and diversion to any criticism, Steve Bruce.

Hopefully Jamaal Lascelles can bounce back and find his best form and inspire those around him once again, but judged on the performances since August 2019 and especially the handful this season, I very much have my doubts.

A case of what might have been for Jamaal Lascelles.

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