The skippers development under the Spaniard has been incredible, seeing him rise from a raw talent to the club captain, our most consistent performer and a player worthy of an England call-up.
Benitez’s influence on the club extends far beyond the development of certain individuals, however, and this is something Lascelles clearly recognises.
Here’s what he’s had to say in an open interview with the Telegraph today, urging Mike Ashley to keep Benitez at the club beyond this summer:
“I think for a while now that the best thing that this club has done is brought the manager in. Since he has been here things have been on the up.
“He has brought the club together and the city together. I think it’s important that the club keeps him happy and holds on to him for as long as possible.
“He is an excellent manager, he has won trophies, he has worked in many different leagues and he knows what it takes to be successful. It has only been positive since he arrived.”
Lascelles then explains how we have a lot going for us at the minute, pleading with Ashley to pull his finger out given we have a manager, a group of players and a set of supporters all pulling in the right direction:
“It does feel like a stable club at the minute,”
“We’ve got a manager who trusts us and he wants to be here, the fans are with him, so that’s really important for the players.
“Now that the stuff with the owner and the takeover has died down, that helps. Whether it was going to happen or it wasn’t going to happen, it is less to think about as a player.
“We now know we are in a stable environment at a stable club. You might not really think about it much, but it (the takeover talk) probably did have an effect on some individuals.
“Of course, as a player you don’t want to be in a team where there is loads of paper talk about stuff not related to us. You don’t want anything negative coming out. Everything is running smooth now, everything is positive and I think it’s just down to us to make sure we keep the fans happy.
Interesting that Lascelles suggests a few players were distracted by the takeover talk earlier in the season, however he now feels things are ‘running smoothly’ now.
They are, and we’ll be a huge step closer to safety if we beat Huddersfield on Saturday, but there’s still one huge issue to iron out even if we do stay up – and that’s Rafa’s future.
He’s the most important person at this club right now. Let’s just hope Ashley can realise this over the summer.
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