Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson heaped praise on Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles after the Magpies' crucial win over Huddersfield on Saturday, but annoyed some of the club's supporters with what he said about the Englishman's future.
Lascelles produced a commanding performance to keep Huddersfield quiet before Ayoze Perez's second half winner, as Rafa Benitez's team took a huge stride towards Premier League safety.
Merson's suggestion that Lascelles may end up at a better team is not a controversial statement, but he appeared to insinuate that Newcastle are not 'a big team'.
“I like the centre-half, Lascelles, he’s a good player," said Merson. "For me, I think he goes somewhere and plays for a big team.
“I really do like him. He got a silly booking [after 10 minutes] but after that he was absolutely outstanding throughout the game."
Newcastle fans have often had to defend their status as one of the big guns of English football. They have a large and passionate fanbase, but have struggled for success on the pitch, finishing in the top half of the Premier League only twice in the last 11 years.
Huge win yesterday. Difficult game but we remained patient and got the job done ✅ we go again ⚫️⚪️— Jamaal Lascelles (@Lascelles16) April 1, 2018
Merson went on to say that Newcastle were well worth their victory over the Terriers.
“It is very rare Newcastle come off the football pitch and you think ‘They didn’t play well but they won’," Merson added. “They should have been out of sight but kept on going."
Newcastle are now up to 12th, seven points clear of the relegation zone. Benitez insisted after the game that the Magpies are not yet safe, but one more win from their remaining seven games would probably guarantee their survival.