Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Despite the Rumours, There Are No Massive Bust-Ups at St James' Park - Just Players with a Burning Desire to Succeed

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Despite the Rumours, There Are No Massive Bust-Ups at St James' Park - Just Players with a Burning Desire to Succeed

Article excerpt

Byline: LEE RYDER Chief Newcastle United Writer lee.ryder@reachplc.com @lee_ryder

NEWCASTLE United players are believed to be deeply disappointed that fresh talk of a training ground bust-up has emerged following a discussion about tactics last week.

Toon insiders have indicated to the Chronicle that the situation has been blown out of proportion and the current squad have never been more united ahead of a tough season.

It's true that Jamaal Lascelles and Rafa Benitez exchanged opinions about a five-man defence but both the manager and the club captain have played down talk of a bust-up.

Matt Ritchie also offered his viewpoint on the situation but while his exchange with Lascelles was understood to be a little heated, it was deemed as nothing unusual within the working environment of the club's Benton base.

Benitez, Ritchie and Lascelles all went into the game against Chelsea having aired their views before getting on with the tough Premier League clash.

Ritchie is a competitive and vocal member of the United squad and anybody who has observed training sessions will tell you he "trains like he plays".

Speaking personally, I was in Portugal and Ireland and can vouch for Ritchie's competitive manner with the winger having no issue booming around the orders or getting into the faces of players on the other side.

When Newcastle were relegated in 2009 and 2016, before Benitez arrived, players looked lax in training and approached life at United as being a chore.

Sadly Benitez's arrival came too late in 2016 and the damage was already done.

But promotion in 2017 and a top 10 finish came because of the spirit the Spaniard has instilled within the squad.

This lot don't have a discipline issue - they have a burning desire to succeed.

Indeed, in Portugal both Lascelles and Ritchie were also quite vocal and sparky before journalists spotted the pair having a coffee together at the team hotel an hour later.

However, there has been no subsequent rift between Ritchie and Lascelles and both players have been on speaking terms ever since. …

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