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Topics Rafael Benítez has revealed that Jamaal Lascelles was surprised by the vitriol he attracted on social media after Newcastle United’s captain described the club’s owner, Mike Ashley as “a nice guy”.During a series of interviews on Thursday Lascelles urged fans to desist protesting against Ashley’s regime. That message has not gone down at all well on Tyneside but Benítez has asked supporters not to abuse the defender as Newcastle seek their first win of the season, at home to Watford on Saturday afternoon. news “Jamaal was being natural, normal and honest,” said the manager. “He did not expect that reaction. He was a bit surprised. I told him to concentrate on scoring the winning goal against Watford.“You have to understand Jamaal is a young player and he has a first impression of one person he has met for the first time at a dinner. It’s not that he’s having an opinion about what’s happened in the last 11 years. This is the only time Jamaal has met him [Ashley]. A lot of people are fine when you first talk to them and then, after, you don’t like them too much – or (you think) he’s nice. Jamaal’s 24 and he’s going to have opinions about things where he doesn’t know all the details.”The irony is that Lascelles is one of Newcastle’s most committed players. “He cares,” said Benítez. “He was trying to be positive, trying to send the right message. Now it’s about us doing what we have to do to win against Watford and if Jamaal is mentally ready for it. That’s what I’m expecting from him. If we get three points it won’t matter if he said this or that. Everybody will be happy.” Share on Pinterest Mike Ashley Share on Facebook Although Benítez carefully dodged an invitation to offer his opinion of Ashley he would prefer it if there were no protests. “Fans being behind the team does make a difference,” he said. “Players feel it and, physically, can find five or 10% more. It can help in things like winning second balls. It’s really important. We have to be united or it’ll be very difficult to survive.” Rafael Benítez Share on WhatsApp The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. Share via Email Read more Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Reuse this content Newcastle United Share on Messenger Newcastle v Watford: match preview