Lascelles Should Be Newcastle’s Figurehead
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on May 12, 2016
Newcastle United were confined to relegation in the worst possible way on Wednesday night as arch-rivals Sunderland won to stay in the Premier League at the expense of them, but the Magpies do have a shining light in Jamaal Lascelles.
If you got a straw poll from Newcastle fans as to why they got relegated the main consensus would probably be that the club situated on Tyneside were devoid of squad members who would sacrifice blood, sweat and tears for them.
The Geordie nation has always been a fan base that warms to players who wear their heart on their sleeve and fight for every point on offer. It is a myth that the supporters have unrealistic expectations of their club – Newcastle have not played in the Champions League since 2003 and have not won any major silverware since 1969, but they certainly should never find themselves anywhere the second tier, never mind in it.
There are a few players that show the drive and passion that the terraces crave, Aleksandar Mitrovic is one, Steven Taylor is another but the former could attract suitors in the summer while the latter is simply not the player he once was. Jonas Gutierrez could also be considered on this list, but he was released at the end of last season despite scoring the goal that kept them in the Premier League for what proved to be just one more year.
Georginio Wijnaldum, Moussa Sissoko and Vurnon Anita are perhaps the epitome of figures who undoubtedly have the talent required for England’s top flight but more often than not are found coasting in matches, which is unforgivable in the North East.
Jamaal Lascelles though could be the catalyst for the revival at St.James’ Park.
Lascelles rarely featured under Steve McClaren, who endured a miserable tenure whilst Head Coach of the Toon Army, but the 22-year-old defender became a mainstay when Rafa Benitez was appointed manager and had somewhat of an effect, none more so than in the 3-0 win over Swansea where Newcastle kept their first clean sheet in over two months.
He also opened the scoring which gave the club a much-needed confidence boost. He was instrumental again as Crystal Palace were shut out in a 1-0 win for United.
Those two wins were not enough to keep Newcastle up, but going forward Lascelles could be the leader the club desperately crave. Being ex-Nottingham Forest the England Under-21 international has Championship know-how but off-the-pitch has not been reserved in making his feelings known to his under-performing team mates.
Back in March he issued a rallying cry to the club’s dressing room as he demonstrated authority well beyond his years.
He told The Chronicle: “Technically we’ve got great talent but we’ve not had the heart and fight.
“We have to show we’re giving 100 per cent and we should have been doing it all season, that’s the most frustrating thing.
“I just try and do my best for the team, I keep trying my hardest and that’s all I can do. I like to communicate to others and boss people about, because I think that’s what we’ve lacked and that’s what we’ve needed.
“I’m there to boss people about, to make sure everyone’s doing their jobs and keep on everybody. Having that fight and passion counts for a lot.”
That fight and passion may be the best hope Newcastle have of returning to the promised land of the Premier League at the first attempt. Without it, they may find themselves spending longer in the Championship than they might intend.
Follow Ben on Twitter: @BenWills