Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has sought to motivate his players by making two promises to the Magpies’ stars: to take them on holiday if they avoid relegation and that he will not sell the club this season.
A report from the Daily Mail claims that Ashley made the commitments to Newcastle’s squad during a team dinner outing that Ashley organised and paid for on Wednesday evening.
After the meal, during which Ashley promised his side a trip away on him and vowed not to sell the club this term, the controversial club owner was met outside by a group pf protesters who took to the streets outside the restaurant in which the Newcastle gathering dined.
Photos suggest Ashley gave the protesters a V-sign from his car, something a spokesperson has since denied.
The bill, which Ashley picked up, apparently came to £2,500, as the Newcastle owner is said to have dined on the cheaper option of spaghetti whilst Rafa Benitez’s stars took advantage of the opportunity to dine on the pricier fillet steak.
With Newcastle currently loitering in the bottom three of the Premier League and yet to record a win from their first seven matches in the league this season, it is said that one of the key developments to emerge from the evening was Ashley’s attempts to encourage an upturn in form from his players.
Ashley is also said to have been keen to reassure influential stars in particular, such as club captain Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie, that they should not let off-field speculation over his potential sale of the club affect the team’s performances on the pitch.
Saturday’s trip to face a struggling Manchester United side at Old Trafford on Saturday does not promise an easy task as Newcastle seek to kickstart their league campaign, though it is an encounter between two sides which are low on confidence and struggling with matters both on and off the pitch.
Ashley will be hoping that his latest intervention can inspire a much-needed result this weekend, having seen his side pull off an upset with a 1-0 win at home to Jose Mourinho’s side last season.