Newcastle skipper Jamaal Lascelles has called for a united front after Steve Bruce was announced as the club’s new head coach.
Bruce’s appointment has not gone down well with fans who were desperate for Rafael Benitez to extend his stay at St James’ Park and some have called for a boycott of the opening Premier League fixture against Arsenal on August 11 in protest at owner Mike Ashley’s running of the club.
However, speaking ahead of the club’s opening pre-season fixture against Wolves in the Premier League Asia Trophy in Nanjing, Lascelles urged players, staff and fans to pull together.
The defender told Sky Sports: “I’ve always said it, we’ve just got to stick together as one, that’s the best thing we can do.
“We can’t go pointing a finger or having a go at anyone, we’ve just got to stick together, that’s the best way.”
Academy coaches Ben Dawson and Neil Redfearn have taken charge of training since the players returned from their summer breaks and while Lascelles has been impressed by their work, he is happy Bruce is now in post.
He said: “We’re all looking forward to it. We’ve been waiting for him to come in. There’s been speculation and now it’s confirmed, we’re pleased and we’re looking forward to it.
“He’s a very well-known manager who’s done well in the Premier League and the Championship.
“We’ve been working hard with Ben and Neil – they’ve done a great job and the rest of the staff have helped us out as well.
“Now the manager has come in, we’re really looking forward to it.”
Former Magpies striker Shola Ameobi also welcomed the appointment as an antidote to the uncertainty which has engulfed the club in recent weeks.
However, he admitted recruitment during what remains of the transfer window will be key with Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez, who scored 23 league goals between them last season, no longer on the books.
Ameobi said: “Ultimately, they were our goals last year and we all know, especially in the Premier League, goalscorers come at a premium. I know Steve will be coming in, that will be his priority.
“In terms of the squad, we’ve got a decent squad and that is the void we need to fill straight away.
“It’s very hard to make signings without a manager and ultimately, the manager has to make those decisions.
“Hopefully Steve will be coming in knowing what he needs to do. Whether or not we can get that over the line is another question because the time frame is very short.
“He has got all the experience in the world, he’s been doing this a long time and he’s got broad shoulders. I think he’ll be able to cope with the demands of this job.”
However, a statement issued on behalf of nine fans’ groups left the new man in little doubt as to their feelings over his appointment.
It said: “Steve Bruce is an unambitious appointment by an unambitious owner. To go from a world-class manager in Rafa Benitez, who brought stability and unity to the club to Steve Bruce – who frankly wouldn’t get a job at any other Premier League side right now – in the space of six weeks is beyond disappointing.
“Most Premier League clubs look to the continent or lower divisions for young, promising, forward-thinking managers in the mould of Pochettino, Gracia and Santo – who bring a new brand of football to a highly-competitive league.
“In Bruce, Mike Ashley has opted for a manager who has been relegated from the league numerous times – he isn’t even a safe pair of hands.
“Bruce’s appointment is testament to Ashley’s continued mismanagement of Newcastle United football Club, which has been the hallmark of his tenure. It’s now time for him to sell the club to a party that genuinely wants to take the club forward.”
Copy provided by Press Association Sport
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