Jamaal Lascelles has been a leader at Newcastle since the turbulent days of our relegation season where he famously bellowed about his teammates’ apathy during a loss to Everton. Jamaal had been given a red card, and as he left the pitch, he let Steve McClaren know just how he felt.
It was a rare sign of passion during that horrible season before Rafa Benitez shockingly took up the reigns at the club. That summer, Lascelles was appointed captain and has been a fixture on the pitch and in the dressing room ever since.
After the 5-0 drubbing at Leicester City, it was Lascelles who boldly faced the fans to give a mea culpa for their pathetic performance. Time and again, Jamaal has stepped up in his role as a spokesman for the squad.
The 25-year-old has given a lengthy interview in the Chronicle as he tries to take a positive angle with the current situation at Newcastle:
“Every single game is tough but we have to approach it the right way.
“We’ve had a really tough start to the season, Man United, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea, Leicester and Arsenal in our opening nine games.
“That’s a really tough start. When you consider we have eight points out of that, it’s positive.
“We have been in a lot worse positions. I am just pleased with our performances at the minute, and I know we can build on this.”
It’s certainly a better start than it could have been. However, there have been significant opportunities missed at the beginning of this campaign.
While we were able to salvage points in both matches, the home draws against Watford and Brighton were very disappointing. We deserved nothing from Brighton as it was a dreadful display in front of the home fans. These were matches we needed to be winning.
Also, the Tottenham and Manchester United wins are somewhat misleading. While they are good wins by any measure, both sides have struggled more than usual this season.
However, it was looking very dim after the Leicester loss, and to rebound from that performance shows some character in the team.
Jamaal went on to point that out in his interview:
“We don’t look too much into what is said in the media. We just concentrate on the team. We do have a lot of character and heart in this team.
“We played Leicester and lost 5-0 but bounced back a week later and beat Man United at home. That shows what character we have got here.
“We have been in worse situations than this. I have a lot of trust in this team, and I am confident we will pick up results now.
“What is positive for me is that our form is starting to pick up. We put in a really good show against Man United and similar at Chelsea.
“Form-wise, we are OK. It’s not like the Norwich or Leicester game anymore so there are good signs. Hopefully, now we can start getting results.
“We have set a benchmark in terms of intensity and defending. Now we just need to be more clinical with our finishing. We’ll work on other things that can win us games.”
The last two performances were definite improvements from the two before that. After the Manchester United win, Jamaal said that the club had set their standard. They did keep that standard against Chelsea despite the defeat.
If the defense can continue in this vein for the rest of the season, that should keep us in games where we can hopefully avoid outcomes like Norwich City and Leicester City going forward.
However, the forwards are going to have to start getting goals. It was a glaring problem with the squad when the transfer window closed, and it has proven to be the Achilles heel so far.
Five goals in nine games is just not going to get the job done. It’s hard to win when you can’t score goals, and three points are what matters in this league. Failing to sort out the problems in front of goal is going to keep Newcastle in a relegation battle this season.