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12th Feb 2018

Newcastle defender Jamaal Lascelles’ Manchester United criticism was refreshingly honest

Matthew Gault

He didn’t mince his words.

Footballers are notoriously magnanimous in their post-match comments, particularly when it comes to remarking on the opposition. The tendency is to remain diplomatic and damn them with faint praise but Jamaal Lascelles was in no such mood when discussing Manchester United.

The Newcastle captain faced the media following his side’s 1-0 win over Jose Mourinho’s men at St James’ Park on Sunday and didn’t hold back with his withering appraisal of United’s performance.

Channeling his inner-Troy Deeney, Lascelles told Sky Sports“They have got some great players, but I don’t think United turned up,” the Newcastle captain said. We have played against Arsenal and Man City and you can really see the quality and one mistake or a lack of concentration and a goal will go in.

“I don’t think they were at it from the start of the game – a lot of their players went missing. It was probably the way we were playing, we made them play like that. In the first half they were making a lot of mistakes, passing the ball around but it was down to our pressing.

“We were aggressive, and they didn’t like it. You could see their centre-halves on the ball and they didn’t really know what to do with it. We set up really well and we matched up really well against them. The manager got it spot on.”

Lascelles was bang-on too. United were terrible from the outset and the Magpies were good credit for their 1-0 win, with Matt Ritchie netting the winner to give Rafael Benitez’s team a much-needed boost in their bid for survival.

The defensive pairing of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones – a vastly experienced Premier League one at that – were seriously unsettled by Newcastle’s verve and organised pressing.

For Lascelles to not mince his words and say it exactly like he saw it on the pitch is refreshingly honest. Not only did he portray himself as a man unmoved by the prospect of creating a few headlines by laying bare United’s utter inferiority, he has probably prompted a few of Mourinho’s players into a difficult spell of introspection.

The fact that Lascelles said United simply didn’t incite the same level of fear in the Newcastle players as Arsenal and Manchester City did will definitely stick in the Red Devils’ craw.

But the United players will not disagree with Lascelles’ words. Speaking after the game, Phil Jones was similarly blunt.

“We weren’t at the races,” he said. “We weren’t good enough, it’s as simple as that.” 

United were rightly beaten after one of the more lethargic performances under Mourinho – and it’s most-welcome to hear players from both sides of the divide speaking plainly about it.

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