Being stuck in a mid-table mentality in the Premier League can be a perilous game. Securing safety reasonably comfortably season after season, without really threatening the European spots, can lead to a situation where when clubs do have to do battle at the bottom, they get caught out. Stoke City is perhaps the best recent example, finishing either ninth or 13th for five consecutive seasons before succumbing to the drop in 2018.
It appears the Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles may be wary a similar scenario could occur at St James’ Park after all the Magpies have finished either tenth or 13th in all of their Premier League seasons since the 2017 Championship promotion. Undoubtedly, the Magpies skipper will not want to make a return to the second tier anytime soon, and he has called out his teammates to improve the mindset on Tyneside.
What did he say?
Writing in the final matchday programme for the 3-1 defeat against Liverpool, via the Chronicle, Lascelles said: “I just think we need to change our mentality. We’ve been in the Prem for a few years now. We’ve done decent, finished off in good positions.”
“I think now there’s no excuses. We need to try and change our mentality and have a bit more of a go.
“On paper, I think we’ve got a really good team – I really do. I see the boys train every day and we’ve got a lot of quality. We’re young, energetic and in good shape and we’ve got a good balance of experience and young players. I think it is about believing in ourselves – that we can go and beat teams,” added the club captain.
There tends to be two ways of living in the Premier League. There are those teams continually looking down at the looming threat of dropping into the Championship, and the other upwardly mobile sides such as Leicester City or Wolverhampton Wanderers, ambitiously aiming to break the established order. At present Newcastle certainly fall into the first category, which was highlighted by the emotion Steve Bruce displayed when the Magpies secured their Premier League status.
Lascelles has called for Newcastle to be ambitious, both in-game and in their aims for the next campaign. There is nothing wrong with sitting back and soaking up pressure, Leicester City were experts at hitting teams on the break this season, scoring nine goals from counter-attacks, behind only Liverpool. However, the Foxes admitted they would be disappointed ahead of missing out on the Champions League on the final day. At the same time, Newcastle were only focused on surviving, and the centre back has called for the Magpies to emulate a similarly ambitious mentality.