Rafa Benitez makes personal plea to Newcastle fans
Rafa Benitez has made a personal plea to Newcastle United fans in the wake of the Jamaal Lascelles furore.
Lascelles provoked a backlash on social media when he described owner Mike Ashley as a "nice guy" after signing a new six-year deal.
The 24-year-old's comments amid protests from supporters against Ashley over under-investment in the club, which is winless and second-bottom of the Premier League ahead of this afternoon's home game against Watford.
Lascelles, Newcastle's captain, also pleaded for "unity" when he faced the media, but that message was almost lost in the furore over his remarks about Ashley.
And United manager Benitez had a message for fans unhappy with Lascelles over his comments when he sat down with journalists ahead of the Watford game.
Asked what he would say those supporters, Benitez said: ‘It’s common sense. What do we have? Eleven players on the pitch and a squad on the bench.
"A manager can make a mistake with a substitution or selection. But we have what we have. Because of that, you have to support your family, this is our family.
"We have to support everyone, from the first minute to the last. After, you can say 'I don’t agree, I’m not happy with that'.
"But we need players performing on the pitch. Jamaal's giving everything on the pitch. He has signed an extension because he cares. We have to support him as much as we can.
"Then, we can agree or not with his opinions. You can have the worst opinionated player in the world, but, if he’s scoring a goal every game, the fans will love him.
"In this case, we're talking about the captain of the team, someone who cares. We cannot change our support to this player because he said this or said that. Then we have to be sure that, next time, he chooses the words to understand the feelings of everyone."