Jamaal Lascelles was "angry" last summer.
Newcastle United, his team, was being written off. Repeatedly.
The club, promoted as champions, was tipped to struggle given a lack of investment. They were labelled a "Championship team" by one pundit.
Rafa Benitez's tactics also came under scrutiny during the season, notably after the home game against Manchester City.
Yet Lascelles – who was determined to prove the club's "doubters" wrong – led the team to a 10th-placed finish in the Premier League.
“As captain of this team, it’s not nice to hear ‘this team’s not good enough’ and ‘you need better players’," said Lascelles. "It angers me.
“I know these boys, and I know how good they are. Not only that, I know they’ll give 110 per cent for the badge, and that’s why we’ve not had to worry about relegation.
“With five games to go, we were clear and in mid-table. These boys have so much about them, and I’m so pleased we proved those doubters wrong.”
So what were the comments that angered Lascelles?
Paul Merson was "worried" about Newcastle before a ball was kicked, though he felt the club would just stay up.
“They won’t be happy with this, but they haven’t really recruited yet," said the former Arsenal winger. "I worry for them, and I think the fans will keep them up. This is a Championship team, and they haven’t really added much top-flight quality.
“They get 50,000 every week, they have Rafa Benitez as manager, go out and sign two £30million players! They haven’t done that, and I think they’re cutting corners. I worry about Benitez getting frustrated.”
Merson had more to say midway through the season.
“Rafa gets an easy ride because it’s everybody else’s fault,” said Merson. “Well, I thought he would stop the rot because he’s a good manager.
“But he’s making some strange decisions. Where is Aleksandar Mitrovic? He wasn’t even on the bench against Everton and they need him in the team, in my opinion.
“Dwight Gayle is lively, quick and sharp, and Joselu is the same. But they need someone who’s going to put himself about and do the dirty work. I think he has to play. He gives them something different.
“I don’t know what’s gone on there but Rafa needs to swallow his pride and put him back in the team. Maybe he can’t always be trusted, but it’s time to take a chance.”
Benitez didn't hide his disappointment at the club's transfer market failings last summer.
That, felt Jamie Carragher, was a mistake.
Speaking last August, Carragher said: “His negativity, I think, is rubbing off on the whole club.
“What he’s basically saying is the players he’s got aren’t good enough. But 80-90 per cent of that squad, those are who you are going to need to keep you up.
“You need to somehow lift them as well. It’s far too negative and it has to change.”
Carragher – who played for Benitez at Liverpool – was also dismissive of January signing Kenedy.
Kenedy, however, would prove a pivotal figure in the second half of the campaign as the team steadily improved and climbed the table.
“Newcastle are getting a squad player from Chelsea, not even a squad player, really," said Carragher. "He’s surplus to requirements at Chelsea.”
Only eight Premier League teams had a better goal difference than Newcastle last season. And that was down to Benitez's tactics.
That statistic could have been very different had Benitez set up his team differently in the fixtures against Manchester City.
Gary Neville was particularly critical of United's tactics in the home game against Pep Guardiola's side, which they lost 1-0.
“He makes this Newcastle tactic look embarrassing," said Neville. "It has to change. There’s defending, and there’s showing absolutely no ambition whatsoever.
“If it were a boxing match, the referee would have stopped it. Hopefully, it will spark them into life, to give them something to watch.”
Benitez said himself that Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield, promoted with Newcastle, were under less pressure.
“Of the three, though, people thought we were the more dangerous because we are Newcastle, a massive club in a big city, with experience in the Premier League, people expected us to maybe be higher," said United's manager.
“It has been much harder for us than them."
Former Liverpool midfielder Murphy felt, because of this, that Brighton could finish higher in the table.
“The expectancy level at Newcastle and Brighton is very different, and that does come on top of the players at some time,” said Murphy last summer.
“I’m not saying that will definitely happen but there is a chance – because these young lads, sprinkled with a few additions, which I am sure they will (buy). They are going to have that intense pressure, which you don’t normally get when you come out of the Championship.
“Burnley didn’t have it, Bournemouth didn’t have it, Hull didn’t have it – Newcastle have got it.
“So, we will see how they cope, I’m not so sure Newcastle are going to do as well as everybody thinks.”
United, however, went on to do better than most people thought.
"Like" our NUFC Facebook page here