If Ashley can score a couple of goals it would be good! – Benitez

The Spaniard denied contact with the controversial Newcastle owner after a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has joked that it would be good if club owner Mike Ashley could score a couple of goals, following his side’s goalless draw against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The club’s under-fire owner was present at the game, but Benitez demurred when asked if he had spoken to the controversial businessman.

“Not really, I was talking with the media at the time,” said the Spaniard.

“If the owner wants to support the team, that’s okay. If the owner can be on the pitch and score a couple of goals it would be better!”

Newcastle fans have regularly protested against Ashley’s ownership over a perceived lack of investment in the club. The Sports Direct owner incurred the wrath of the Toon faithful after purchasing department store group House of Fraser just days after the end of a transfer window characterised by a lack of investment in players.

The majority of the club’s major signings were loan deals or free transfers, with Federico Fernandez and Salomon Rondon joining on temporary deals, while Ki Sung-yeung joined on a Bosman transfer. 

Benitez has previously spoken out regarding a lack of budget for signings. Furthermore, Aleksandar Mitrovic was sold to potential relegation rivals Fulham, and has scored five goals in six games so far.

And Newcastle were lacking a tangible goal threat Saturday as the Magpies failed to score at Selhurst Park, with Rondon replaced at half-time by Joselu.

“We are missing this kind of situation when we have a couple of chances, we have to do a little better. If you score, then the game changes totally,” Benitez said. 

The free-spending nature of promoted clubs like Fulham and Wolves has further compounded the frustration of Newcastle fans.

The afternoon was marred when Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka was struck by a bottle thrown from the Newcastle section of the crowd.

Benitez played down the incident, saying the great majority of Newcastle fans behaved themselves. 

“We had 3,000 fans and they were fantastic, maybe one made a mistake,” the Spaniard said. 

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